Netflix reduces the quality of movies and TV series so as not to break the Internet

Netflix has decided to reduce the resolution of its movies and TV series so as not to flood the network. Here's what's changing

Stay at home, watching Netflix. But at low resolution: the streaming giant has accepted the request of Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the internal market and services, who asked to reduce the load generated by streaming content in order not to clog the network.

A similar request, with identical result, was also made to Google to lower the amount of data transmitted by YouTube. As a consequence of these measures, there won't be limitations to the content that you can watch on Netflix or YouTube, but there will be a lowering of the bitrate. It is estimated that this measure can reduce the load on the Internet network generated by Netflix by about 25%. Similar data for YouTube. As empirical tests have shown, in fact, the difference between the impact on the network of a transmission in standard resolution and one in 4K is one to ten.

Why Netflix lowers the bitrate of movies and TV series

In this period of emergency coronavirus hashtags are not counted. The one chosen by Breton is #SwitchToStandard and perfectly sums up the EU's request to the streaming giants: continue to offer content, to entertain the growing number of Europeans confined to the home, but making a sacrifice to leave precious data bandwidth available to other users who do not watch movies and TV series, but who need the Internet. Even to work, given the substantial obligation to move all to smart working.

Netflix and YouTube respond

The proposal was formalized by Thierry Breton during two separate phone calls. The first with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, the second with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. Both CEOs agreed to the request, which will most likely now be extended to other similar services such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and Disney+ that will arrive in a few days (the debut in Italy has been brought forward to March 24).

How much streaming weighs

The load generated by streaming movies and TV series is really impressive. But (and here is the reason of #SwitchToStandard) it varies a lot according to the resolution adopted. A recent survey by, in fact, revealed that the average bitrate of a streaming at standard resolution is equal to 1.93 Bb/s, that of a transmission in HD (1080p) rises to 4.5 Mb/s while 4K consumes an average of 19.31 MB/s. As the Italian Prime Minister would say, "We can't afford it anymore."