UPDATE: they may do the same for Australian subscribers too.
Netflix has announced that they will reduce the video quality for customer in Europe to help ease the strain on European ISPs. As more and more people are working from home and many schools are closing, European ISPs are at risk of becoming overloaded due to the inevitable increase in streaming media use. Video quality will be reduced resulting in a 25% saving in data transfer but have stated that “viewers would still find the picture quality good”. The lowered bitrate will be used for the next 30 days.
UPDATE: The Guardian are reporting that the Australian government are asking Netflix, Stan and Disney+ to reduce the streaming bitrate to help relieve their internet infrastructure. Computer game companies, renowned for their multi-gigabyte update files, have also been asked to look into ways they can help reduce pressure on ISPs.
Netflix do a lot of work with their transcoding and make use of the most up to date video codecs available as well as working within the industry to help improve them – here’s one recent example. So it is highly likely that, with the constant improvements to codecs, most users won’t really notice much difference. If you pay for HD you will still get a HD feed but it may not be quite as sharp as normal – HD simply refers to the video size (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high) and not the image quality overall.
According to the BBC the announcement came after a call between Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, and Netflix.
Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings (Netflix Chief Executive), 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.
Oh, and no. You won’t get a discount – don’t be so selfish!