After Netflix and Youtube decided to lower streaming bitrates in Europe, where COVID-19 has become ubiquitous, Amazon too has announced similar steps for its streaming platform Prime Video. These steps are coming in on request made by Governments in Europe, with an aim to free up Internet bandwidth in the region and to avoid excessive strain on the already stressed network.
The platform, like others mentioned earlier, will now limit the streaming quality to standard definition, in an effort to reduce the bandwidth it takes up, thus allowing people to use other services. This decision comes at a time when more and more people have been resorting to working from home, students learning via online video classes and people generally using more Internet services as the area is shutting down in light of the coronavirus.
“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 whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers,” a Prime Video spokesperson said.
However, unlike Netflix and Youtube, Amazon Prime Video’s efforts look global. The company hasn’t issued a clarification on whether it is doing so only in Europe or elsewhere around the world as well. When reached out, 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.” Amazon Prime Video is available in 200 countries globally with over 150 million subscribers.
Previously, Netflix and Youtube had taken similar decisions after European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and Alphabet to take measures to ensure the safety of the Internet structure. Netflix complied, saying “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 move will stay in effect for 30 days, a number which is subject to changes.
Youtube followed shortly after, and promulgated that it will set standard definition as the default quality in Europe for a month. Users will get the option to make the change to HD or higher if they wish to. It’s unclear if Prime Video and Netflix will give similar options to their users.
Youtube has already given users the option to change quality as per their will, while Netflix changed it up according to the internet connection and bandwidth.