Amazon, whose originals include The Grand Tour, has also reduced bitrate speeds in Europe for its Amazon Prime video service. Following a similar move by Netflix, Amazon has removed the option to stream series and films in the bandwidth-heavy high-definition (HD) format.
Google-owned YouTube, Europe's largest video streaming site, set the default option for all of its videos to standard definition across Europe, but users still have the option to toggle viewing quality to HD.
Over the weekend, Disney announced it would put in place measures to lower the overall bandwidth utilization of its Disney+ service when it launches across much of Europe on Tuesday. Disney said the measures should “lower our overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25 percent” in all European territories where Disney+ is launching March 24, including the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Disney has pushed back the launch of Disney+ in France to April 7 at the request of the French government.
Apple, which bowed its Apple TV+ online service last November, has also voluntarily throttled its video bitrate in Europe to avoid straining the continent's network.
The moves come after the European Union's Internal Market and Services Commissioner Thierry Breton called on online video companies to do their part in reducing bandwidth demand. Breton expressed concerns that as millions of Europeans remain indoors amid stay-at-home orders, increased demand could tax online networks.
Netflix on Thursday said it was reducing bitrates across Europe, initially for 30 days, a move expected to reduce bandwidth demand for Netflix traffic by around 25 percent.
On Friday, Europe's government and regulatory bodies have authorized the European Union's telecom operators and internet service providers to apply exceptional measures, including the throttling of online speeds, to prevent network congestion.
With most of Europe's citizens under stay-at-home orders, demand for online services, from teleworking tools and online classes to video and gaming streaming sites, has shot up. So far, however, there have been no reports of major network disruption.
Other countries appear to be copying Europe's preemptive throttling approach. In India, the association of cellular operators, COAI, has written to streaming platforms and the government's department of telecommunications to take measures, including temporarily moving to standard definition streaming, to ease the pressure on the nation's online infrastructure
Meanwhile, in Israel, the communications ministry on Monday said Netflix will comply with a government request to reduce streaming quality in the country to help ease data congestion. Israeli Internet service providers have reported an average increase of as much as 30 percent since the coronavirus outbreak.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.