Home Entertainment

Streaming services reduce quality to keep the internet functioning

Streaming services reduce qual...
Streaming services are reducing bitrates and quality to keep the internet functioning
Streaming services are reducing bitrates and quality to keep the internet functioning
View 1 Image
Streaming services are reducing bitrates and quality to keep the internet functioning
1/1
Streaming services are reducing bitrates and quality to keep the internet functioning

With millions of people now self-isolating in their homes worldwide, the world's internet infrastructure is being pushed to its limits. In order to ease the strain, major streaming services are finding ways to reduce bandwidth.

YouTube began five days ago by making all videos default to "standard definition" or 480p. The program started in Europe but is now being rolled out globally. You can still choose to watch high-resolution versions by going into the settings and manually changing them, but for many video types and mobile users, the difference might not even be noticeable.

Netflix is in a different position, having priced some of its subscriptions based on streaming qualities of UltraHD, HD and standard definition. But each of these resolutions have multiple streams, sometimes dozens, which use different compression settings to balance quality with network loads. By shutting down the top quality, highest bandwidth streams for each resolution, the company says it's managed to reduce total Netflix traffic by 25 percent, while still delivering the resolutions people have paid for.

"If you are particularly tuned into video quality," says a Netflix press release, "you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution. But you will still get the video quality you paid for."

Disney+, for its part, has pledged to reduce its streaming bandwidth by 25 percent as well, but it's in an awkward position, having just launched its service in the UK and EU yesterday. So it's not using as much bandwidth as it would've in the pre-COVID-19 world, but it's adding another hugely popular streaming service to the pile.

Other major services like Amazon Prime, Facebook, Instagram and AppleTV have also made similar moves to reduce bandwidth usage by throttling streaming quality.

Considering the massive influx of videoconferencing that's flooded networks as huge numbers of people switch to working from home offices, measures like these are an important contribution to keeping everything moving as smoothly as possible.

Source: Youtube, Netflix, Disney+

4 comments
Captain Danger
"you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution. But you will still get the video quality you paid for"
If the video quality is decreased then you are not getting what you paid for.
paul314
It's a good thing all those data centers, server farms and backbone nodes have been designed to operate with minimal human intervention. If the folks who maintain them start getting sick...
HarryTC
We all agree that online technologies need to continue and be protected. However, the internet providers and Source streaming providers need to do all they can to improve and not shrink speeds and capabilities which includes speed. Just being honest, many will discontinue services that due to throttled speed and bandwidth will, as I will, use alternative entertainment sources. My family is fortunate in that we are early adopters, and have DVD & Blu-ray videodiscs.
I recently commented to my wife, “why don’t we watch some blue rays, now that our regular TV series are discontinued due to the Coronavirus? We could watch three or four movies a week and it still would take six months to see a repeat.
The impact of the Coronavirus on Americans will have a lasting impact on our daily lives. That impact will also extend to business and government. The connection between the creation and purchase is called “logistics”, and as we all are seeing is evolving. Traditional Small businesses were impacted by Big Box stores, and both were impacted by Online sales. We saw a supply shortage in all due to the freak response to over purchasing, and the logistics between all the suppliers and delivery systems must evolve, and it will. This evolving can make America stronger, put more Americans to work, and compel Americans to purchase American manufacturing. How can we NOT end up stronger, what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger.
Signguy
HarryTC. I have over 400 movies on DVD, so I could watch 1 per day for a while before starting over; as long as there's electricity...