Netflix Lowers Video Quality in India to Reduce Network Stress Amid Pandemic

It will cut traffic by 25 percent for the next 30 days.

Netflix Lowers Video Quality in India to Reduce Network Stress Amid Pandemic

Photo Credit: Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360

  • Video resolution is not affected, only bitrate is
  • Most people in India stream in SD on phones anyway
  • Biggest contributor, YouTube, yet to make a move

Following a request from an industry body, Netflix has decided to lower video quality in India for the next 30 days, to reduce traffic on mobile and broadband networks in the country amid the increased need for Internet services, with more people at home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Mind you, this doesn't affect the video resolution — you'll still get access to HD and 4K, if you pay for it, but at lower bitrates than before. Netflix says it expects to cut traffic by 25 percent, in line with what it promised in Europe, where the move was made last Friday.

While most other players have joined Netflix in reducing video quality in Europe, the world's biggest streaming service remains the only one to do so in India, at the time of writing. For what it's worth, most Indians stream in standard-definition (SD) on phones, which makes it less of an issue. Netflix's most popular plan is the mobile one, which only offers SD. Hotstar said as much on Monday, noting that most of its users are locked to SD since they are on the ad-supported tier.

On top of that, Netflix is a miniscule portion of the streaming market in India. If anyone should be practising this move here, it's YouTube. Gadgets 360 has reached out to YouTube on multiple occasions, but the video giant hasn't commented. YouTube was one of the platforms alongside Netflix that agreed to lower video quality in Europe.

“Given the crisis, we've developed a way to reduce Netflix's traffic on telecommunications networks by 25 percent while also maintaining the quality of our service,” Netflix's VP of content delivery, Ken Florance, said in a prepared statement. “Consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan, whether it's ultra-high, high- or standard-definition. We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in India for the next 30 days”.

Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS. You can also download the episode or just hit the play button below.


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Akhil Arora
Akhil Arora covers entertainment for Gadgets 360, interviewing stars such as Christian Bale and Anurag Kashyap, covering series premieres, product and service launches across the globe, and looking at American blockbusters and Indian dramas from a global socio-political and feminist perspective. As a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, Akhil has reviewed over 150 movies and TV shows in over half a decade at Gadgets 360. When he is not completely caught up with new film and TV releases, Akhil ...More
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