European Union urges Netflix and streamers to use SD quality to save the internet

Netflix TV
Netflix TV (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • European Union Commissioner Thiery Breton is urging people to switch to SD quality when streaming Netflix to save the internet
  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Breton have already spoken once on the matter and will discuss it again today.
  • During the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people are sheltering in place, putting a strain on the internet while they work remotely, stream content, or stay in touch with friends and family.

If you're like many of us around the world right now, you're staying at home as much as possible due to the coronavirus. Whether you're practicing social distancing or self quarantining, it's just the smart thing to do. As a result, we're finding a lot of hours in the day and night we need filled with something to do.

Enter streaming services, many of which have free trials to take advantage of, in case you don't already subscribe. Without a doubt, Netflix is the most popular of the group. So much so, that the European Union is urging Netflix to throttle streaming to SD quality to lessen the strain on the internet.

On March 18, 2020, EU Commissioner Thiery Breton spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about the issue. He also sent out a tweet urging people to "#SwitchtoStandard definition when HD is not necessary." A spokesperson from Netflix agreed with Commissioner Breton's concerns, and said that the two would speak again today on the matter.

Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time.

With millions of people across the globe working from home and streaming video during the pandemic, the internet is about to undergo a stress test like never before. Netflix already adjusts streaming quality based on network capacity, but it is uncertain whether this current surge will have an effect on streaming quality. Could switching to HD or SD quality down from UHD save the internet? I guess we're about to find out over the next few months.

CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg also told reporters this week that Facebook and its services have been experiencing "big surges." He continued by saying it was "well beyond" the spike they usually see around New Year's Eve. In fact, voice and video calls using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have been more than double their normal levels.

Update: Netflix will throttle streaming in Europe for 30 days

Netflix has responded to the EU's plea and will be throttling streaming in the region for a period of 30 days. The company hopes that quality will remain acceptable for the majority of affected consumers.

Jason England