Netflix has said it will temporarily reduce the quality of videos on its platform to ease pressure on internet service providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The platform, which is home to shows including Stranger Things and The Crown, will drop the video bit rate for 30 days, following calls from the EU’s European Commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton.
It comes as people in the UK resort to working from home and self-isolation, while other parts of Europe are subject to lockdowns.
The streaming service confirmed to the PA news agency that the measures include the UK.
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”.
Important phone conversation with @ReedHastings, CEO of @Netflix— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) March 18, 2020
To beat #COVID19, we #StayAtHome
Teleworking & streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain.
To secure Internet access for all, letâs #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.
“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokeswoman 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.”
Mr Breton praised Netflix boss Reed Hastings for showing a “strong sense of responsibility and solidarity” on the issue.
“Social distancing measures to fight the Coronavirus lead to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes,” he said.
“I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users.
“Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity.
“We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together.”
Internet service providers in the UK have insisted they are “ready” to handle extra broadband demand from people at home during the pandemic.
Last week, Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), which represents the industry, said: “ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks.”