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Netflix will lower streaming bitrates in Europe but won’t cap resolution

Due to the spread of Coronavirus, a lot of people are staying at home and self-isolating to avoid catching, or spreading the illness. As a result, there has been increased stress placed on internet infrastructure throughout Europe, so Netflix and a few other video streaming services are temporarily lowering quality to avoid internet outages. Now, Netflix has explained how it plans to tackle the issue in a bit more detail.

Due to its popularity, Netflix dropping quality can reduce internet traffic by a significant margin. In total, Netflix is aiming to reduce bandwidth consumption by 25 percent, but this won’t be achieved by blocking off resolution options like Ultra-HD or HD. Instead, Netflix will be dropping the bitrate used for streams at those resolutions.

As part of a blog post, Netflix’s VP of content delivery, Ken Florance, explained: “The action we’ve taken maintains the full range of video resolutions. So whether you paid for Ultra-High Definition (UHD), High Definition (HD), or Standard Definition (SD), that is what you should continue to get (depending on the device you are using)”.

“If you are particularly tuned into video quality you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution”, meaning you will be streaming content at a lower bitrate than previously allowed.

Netflix isn’t alone in this temporary endeavour, which will see bitrates across the likes of YouTube, Amazon, Apple TV and Disney+ will also be lowering the default quality of streams in an effort to reduce load on internet infrastructure during the next few weeks.

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KitGuru Says: When you sign up for a Netflix account, you pay for a maximum resolution and not a maximum bitrate, so those paying for the UHD package are still technically getting what they paid for. However, lower bitrate can be just as noticeable due to compression artefacts and other forms of degradation.

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