Netflix cuts streaming quality for 30 days to free up bandwidth

The streaming giant is hoping to shrink users' data consumption by 25% amid the Coronavirus crisis

Stranger Things season 3

The bad news: Netflix is set to cut its streaming quality across Europe for the next 30 days. The good news: it’s for a very good reason.

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The streaming giant says it hopes the move will reduce users’ data consumption by up to 25%. This will ease pressure on internet service providers caused by the number of people confined to their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix says that although some users watching in Ultra High Definition (4K) may notice a slight reduction in quality – meaning some viewing may appear slightly pixelated – most will not see a difference.

According to Netflix, streaming titles on its service uses about 1 gigabyte of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, compared with up to 3GB per hour for each stream of High Definition video.

The move comes after a phone meeting between Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and European officials, including European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton.

“Social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus have led to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes,” said Breton. “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.”

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He also urged people to switch to standard viewing when HD (high definition) viewing “is not necessary”.