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Amazon and Apple are reducing streaming quality to lessen broadband strain in Europe

Amazon and Apple are reducing streaming quality to lessen broadband strain in Europe


Following in Netflix and YouTube’s footsteps

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Following in the footsteps of Netflix and YouTube, Amazon has announced that it will also reduce streaming quality in Europe in order to lessen the strain being put on broadband networks. Apple tells The Verge it too is reducing streaming quality in Europe for its TV Plus platform.

“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,” a spokesperson told The Guardian. “Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion.”

Apple is joining Amazon and Netflix in reducing streaming quality

Amazon is currently reducing bitrate speeds in Europe, but is continuing to monitor the situation in the US and other countries around the world. The company is ready to take action elsewhere if broadband problems call for it, The Verge has learned. Amazon Prime has more than 150 million subscribers around the world, and Prime Video is available in more than 200 countries. Amazon’s spokesperson told The Guardian that this includes Europe, “where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.”

Apple’s decision to reduce streaming quality on Apple TV Plus in Europe was first spotted by 9to5Mac. On its November 3rd launch, Apple’s streaming service was commended for its high bitrates, but today, 9to5Mac observed a degradation in video quality that was “very noticeable.”

Broadband strain will continue to be a concern as more people are required to stay at home to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Nielsen is estimating that people staying home “can lead to almost a 60 percent increase in the amount of content we watch in some cases and potentially more depending on the reasons.”

That means streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video, other video platforms like YouTube and Twitch, and online gaming will all affect broadband speeds. That’s on top of the strain that comes from people working from home and students using video conferencing tools like Zoom to participate in online classes.

Update March 20th, 8:39PM ET: Added that Apple is also reducing streaming quality for Apple TV Plus.