Amazon follows Netflix’s lead, reducing streaming quality in Europe

Brian Heater

Following moves by Netflix and YouTube, Amazon announced today that it, too, will be throttling streaming bitrates in Europe in an effort to conserve bandwidth. The online giant confirmed the move in a statement to TechCrunch, writing:

We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand with so many people now at home full-time due to COVID-19. Prime Video is working with local authorities and Internet Service Providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.

The European Union yesterday called on streaming services — Netflix in particular — to switch to SD streaming during peak hours. The request comes as sheltering in place populations have begun taxing internet bandwidth on the continent. Increasingly, users are turning to teleconferencing and other remote interfaces in order to maintain social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Switching from HD and higher streaming rates could help alleviate some of the stress on infrastructure. YouTube made a similar announcement earlier today, noting “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” in a statement provided to the press.