Video streaming giant, Netflix and YouTube appear to be feeling the pinch of the novel coronavirus. The virus' outbreak has halted the movement of major economies and forced people indoors to protect themselves from the virus.
The effects of this have been seen mostly in Europe which has emerged as the new epicenter of the outbreak in the last few weeks. Depending on the country of their residence, citizens across Europe have either had to face mild, or severe restrictions on their movement and have largely seen themselves locked inside their own homes.
But even that may become a lot more difficult in the coming days, as Europe could face an unprecedented breakdown of the internet because of the increasing bandwidth requirements of users across the continent.
To tackle this tricky situation, giants of the video streaming game, Netflix and Youtube, have announced that they will reduce the quality of their streams in Europe to better manage the bandwidth load that servers are currently facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For this, Netflix will reduce the bit rate of all its video streams for 30 days. The company estimates that this move "will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members."
YouTube, on the other hand, has also promised a similar measure, with the company announcing that the move will extend to Britain and will initially be for 30 days, post which there will be a review of the situation to determine the future course of action.
The decision appears to have been taken after representatives from both Netflix and YouTube held conversations with the European Union (EU) Commissioner Thierry Breton who urged the companies to help bring the situation under control. The EU had previously also appealed to individual users to ditch high definition video to prevent the internet from breaking.
Responding to Netflix's move, Breton said that streaming platforms, telecom operators and users "all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation... 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."
The calls for better bandwidth management comes amid fears that a sustained period of millions of citizens working from home could actually bottleneck the existing infrastructure that ISPs have in place.
A recent report from Nielsen also hinted at the same, as it estimated the increase in load on bandwidth to increase by almost 60 per cent due to the increase in content people consume in the coming days.
To back its claims, the study by Nielsen has used existing data from areas that have been heavily impacted by Covid-19. Basing its claims on the data obtained from South Korea, it said that while there was a surge in the virus, "the analysis noted a 17 percent increase in TV viewing an increase of approximately 1.2 million viewers.
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