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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As one of the largest distributors of digital data across high-speed networks, Netflix has agreed to reduce its streaming bit rates in Europe over the next 30 days as the region grapples with the coronavirus pandemic that has now exceeded China in the number of infections and deaths.
The move comes after CEO Reed Hastings met with European Commissioner Thierry Breton about Netflix reducing its strain on European networks.
“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings — and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus — Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” Netflix said in an email. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
With mandatory at-home quarantine in some countries, people have turned to the Internet for work and school. At the same time, Netflix has more than 106 million subscribers outside the United States. Its standard definition videos reportedly consume about 1GB of data per hour, while HD videos eat up 3GB of data per hour. Video consumption accounts for about 70% of bandwidth used across European networks.
Akamai reports its networks are experiencing 50% more Web traffic than previously used during this time period. CEO Tom Leighton told Business Insider the company’s peak traffic load in Q1 is twice what it was during the same period last year.
“I think we’ll see more acceleration due to the fact that you have so many more people working from home and you have, kids out of school and spending more time at home,” Leighton said.