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Youtube joins Netflix in limit of streaming quality

YouTube has joined Netflix in agreeing to limit video stream quality in an effort to ease pressure on internet providers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Streaming giant, Netflix, will “begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson said.

“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members,” the statement said.

With wide-ranging lockdowns and quarantines, schools, shops, and borders closed, people across Europe are increasingly turning to the internet to stave off boredom.

But the huge file sizes of high definition offerings from web giants such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon are slowing the web, Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market and digital economy said.

“Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain,” he said in a tweet on Thursday, calling for online platforms to switch to streaming in standard definition instead of HD.

Netflix expects the move to cut its European traffic by about 25% but assured users they will still be able to deliver a “good quality service”.

The scheme to ease the strain on providers has come from the European commissioner for internal market and services, Thierry Breton, who urged platforms to help infrastructure handle any potential usage increase.

YouTube said its scheme will see video quality limited to standard definition, also for a period of 30 days.

The company said it had so far seen little change in the peaks for usage, instead mostly seeing changes in usage patterns with more people at home, with usage expanding across longer hours.

“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity."

We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators (including Ofcom), governments and network operators all over Europe, and are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the UK and the EU to standard definition.

“We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”

Google said its chief executive, Sundar Pichai, and YouTube boss, Susan Wojcicki, discussed how the technology giant could help further during the coronavirus pandemic with Mr Breton.