Netflix will reduce streaming quality in Europe for 30 days

Earlier today, we learned that EU Commissioner Thierry Breton had called for Netflix to reduce streaming quality in Europe — a move to limit its overall bandwidth usage as more users turn to streaming services for in-home entertainment during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Netflix has confirmed that it will comply with this request. In a statement first sent to Business Insider and confirmed to TechCrunch, a rep for Netflix says:

Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days. We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.

Netflix traffic has long accounted for a significant portion of the world’s bandwidth usage; a report at the end of 2019 said that Netflix streams made up about 13% of overall internet traffic. The company has had programs in place to minimize the impact of its traffic (and their own costs) for some time; one example of this is Open Connect, a content delivery network launched by Netflix in 2012 meant to put its content closer to the end user’s physical location, thus limiting how many network hops were required for delivery.