The entire continent of Europe has gone in a shutdown. The total number of coronavirus cases in Europe have surpassed China’s. Moreover, the death toll in Italy has skyrocketed. Considering about 700 million people are staying at home, internet usage has risen beyond capacity. And people are spending more hours staying connected than ever before. Since this traffic is utilized in watching Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, these companies have decided to step up to the problem.
Netflix, Amazon Prime & YouTube reduce stream quality
The European Union first brought the issue up last week. The internet usage had surged by 50%, well beyond its annual New Year’s Eve high. Even Mark Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp and Messenger calls had almost doubled. However, EU net neutrality laws forbid throttling of entertainment services like Netflix or Twitch. So the EU decided to reach out to companies to lower the burden on ISPs.
Netflix streaming quality depends on two factors: video res and bitrate. Video res means whether the video is standard HD or 4K. Bitrate how clear and smooth a video appears, lower bitrate video looks ‘pixelated’. Out of these two factors, Netflix will be reducing the bitrate by 25% for a month. YouTube and Amazon Prime soon followed suit of the streaming giant. Prime has also reduced video bitrates. Meanwhile, YouTube made the statement:
We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition by default.
Netflix sets up $100 million coronavirus fund
Netflix has tried time and time again to prove it’s not an ‘evil corporation’. The $100 million relief fund will be used to help people during the coronavirus pandemic. Particularly, most of it will be used to support laid-off crew members. The entertainment industry is facing mass unemployment with about 100,000 people laid off. Moreover, estimates suggest the industry will lose billions of dollars due to the shutdown. Netflix’s move is a positive step in the right direction. Chief Content Officer Sarandos said:
What’s happening is unprecedented. We are only as strong as the people we work with and Netflix is fortunate to be able to help those hardest hit in our industry through this challenging time.