Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus: Unlike Ralph, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video say they won't break the internet during Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The world's largest subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, Netflix, Google's YouTube and Amazon Prime Video agreed not to break the internet as the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic spreads and more people self-quarantine and stay and work from home -behaviour that is increasing pressure on internet broadband usage and service providers.

Netflix agreed to slow down the bitrate by 25% at which it delivers content for at least 30 days to its 51 million users in the United Kingdom and Europe as more people are home for longer binge-watching content, while others use the internet at home for work, to make online delivery orders, keep the kids busy and access information.

Google's YouTube also agreed to "minimise stress on the system".

Amazon Prime Video also said it would slow down its video streaming service.

Internet analytic reports - the latest available are from 2019 - found that video streaming gobbles up 60% of all data consumption between internet providers and users, with Netflix that is responsible for 12% of all video streaming usage and with YouTube grabbing another 12%.

Thierry Breton, the European Union's internal market and services commissioner, on Thursday asked Netflix to degrade its internet streaming video quality to preserve broadband during the Covid-19 crisis to prevent Netflix from breaking the internet.

"Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users - we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation," Thierry Breton said in a statement on Thursday.

A few hours later, late on Thursday night, Netflix in a statement announced that "Following the discussions between commissioner Thierry Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days".

"We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members." The reduced Netflix bitrate will mean a reduction in picture quality for certain subscribers.

After Netflix statement, Thierry Breton again issued a statement, saying: "Social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus have led to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes".

"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. Reed Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity. We'll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together."

Google's YouTube also issued a statement, also agreeing to slow down and limit bitrate traffic, saying: "We will continue working with member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience".

Amazon is now also reducing bitrate speeds across Europe and is monitor the situation in the United States and other countries around the world. Amazon says that the company is ready to take action in countries and territories if internet broadband problems occur.

"We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand, with so many people now at home full-time due to Covid-19," says Amazon Prime Video in a statement.

"Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe, where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers."