Most countries in Europe have introduced confinement measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, so folks cooped up at home will be seeking entertainment options. As such, EU industry czar Thierry Breton has asked streaming platforms to reduce video quality in order to keep the internet running smoothly. Breton personally spoke to both Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, according to Reuters.
Yesterday, Netflix became the first major streaming platform to reduce video stream bitrates. Over the next 30 days, it has promised to reduce its footprint by around 25 percent by “reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe,” the company told Engadget.
Meanwhile, France has asked Disney to delay the launch of Disney+, though you’d think folks at home would just stream something else and use up bandwidth anyway. In the UK, operator BT noted that many more folks are working from home due to the pandemic, so daytime traffic has increased up to 60 percent. However, it’s still “only around half the average evening peak, and nowhere near the 17.5 Tb/s we have proved the network can handle,” the company wrote.
YouTube has also launched a dedicated hub on its home page to promote “authoritative content” to users. ” We want everyone to have access to authoritative content during this trying time,” it tweeted.
The technology industry is working closely together in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world on COVID-19 response efforts. Read our full statement. pic.twitter.com/Xn0fhyJLXm
— Google Public Policy (@googlepubpolicy) March 17, 2020
Conspiracy theories and fearmongering are dangerous at any time, but during a pandemic, they can be fatal. Multiple coronavirus hoax videos have already gone viral, including one calling the virus a Chinese bioweapon and another stating that 5G radiation somehow caused the pandemic. YouTube’s effort is part of a promise made by multiple tech giants, including Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, to quash misinformation and promote credible content during the pandemic.
So far in France, I’ve yet to see the reduced video speeds or the hub, but I expect they should come along soon. You should be able to see the dedicated hub in the US by now, though.