French Telecom Asks for Disney+ Launch Delay; Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Throttle Streaming Speed in Europe

With hundreds of millions of Europeans quarantined in their homes to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CEO of French telecom Orange has called on Disney to postpone the planned March 24 launch of branded subscription streaming video service Disney+.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, CEO Stephane Richard requested “a few weeks delay” for the Disney+ launch, citing heightened ISP demands throughout the country during the pandemic that has infected nearly 300,000 people globally, with the death toll around 5,000. Orange is one of four major ISPs in France.

Disney already canceled a major SVOD launch party slated for March 5 in London.

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Separately, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube have joined Netflix in Europe reducing streaming bit rates in an effort to not overwhelm  local networks during the crisis. The slowdown means subscribers with high-definition access, including 4K, could be throttled as low as 600kbps, limiting resolution to about 360p on mobile devices and 670p on TV.

The move follows Netflix’s decision to reduce streaming speeds by 25% after CEO Reed Hastings met with European Union commissioner Thierry Breton — the latter requesting all major streaming video services voluntarily throttle bit rates.

“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” YouTube said in a statement.

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