March 19, 2020
With much of Europe under quarantine due to widespread outbreaks of the coronavirus, the European Union is calling on streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to curtail offering content in high definition.
The EU encompasses more than 450 million people, many of whom are home-bound as local governments and health officials battle to contain further spread of COVID-19, which has seen Europe surpass China in the number of infections and deaths.
With people turning to over-the-top video, demands on local ISPs and networks could exceed capacity, according to European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who tweeted “#SwitchtoStandard definition when HD is not necessary.”
Breton reportedly met Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on March 18 about the issue and is scheduled to do the same today. Netflix, in a statement to CNN Business, said the service already limits streaming to network capacities, including housing content closer to subs in each country.
“Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “We’ve been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies.”
By 2024, about 63 million Europeans are projected to have a Netflix subscription — up from 40 million in 2018. Netflix had 106 million international subs at the end of 2019, in addition to 61 million in the United States.