Amazon and Apple are the latest companies to throttle back streaming-video bit rates in Europe, joining an effort to reduce congestion on the region’s internet networks that have become stressed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, Netflix and YouTube said they were putting measures in place to lower bandwidth usage of their services across the continent. That came at the request of European Union officials concerned about networks getting swamped as millions of people are staying at home amid the virus crisis.
An Amazon rep confirmed to Variety that Prime Video has started to cut streaming quality for members in the U.K. and Europe but said the company was unable to share technical details.
“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,” the Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “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 bit rates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.”
For now, Amazon is not reducing Prime Video streaming bit rates in the U.S. or other areas outside of Europe and the U.K. but the company continues to monitor the issue worldwide.
Apple, meanwhile, is clamping down on video bit rates in Europe for Apple TV Plus, delivering streams at lower resolutions that “appear heavily compressed with visibly blocky artifacts,” according to a report from tech website 9to5Mac.
YouTube is switching default video playback in European countries to standard-definition quality (ordinarily the bit rate is automatically adjusted). Users have the option to select HD quality manually, a YouTube rep confirmed.
Netflix has not spelled out technical details of its bandwidth-reduction plan for Europe but estimated it can achieve a 25% reduction in usage by cutting video bit rates. It’s not clear if customers using Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV Plus users will have the option to override the video-delivery limits each of the providers is implementing.