COVID-19: Streaming Services Doing Their Bit

COVID-19: Streaming Services Doing Their Bit

With so many around the world stuck at home due to the COVID-19 crisis, video streaming services are seeing more activity – and that’s a potential problem.

Video streaming and COVID-19 Image: mohamed_hassan

Netflix reportedly accounted for 12.60% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet and video streaming overall was more than 60% according to Sandvine’s 2019 Global Internet Phenomena Report.

The amount of streaming will have no doubt grown from then under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances; with so many millions of people at home either by choice or by decree and looking for ways to fill their time. Added to that is increased videoconferencing as many meetings aren’t being held face-to-face.

The situation is putting significant pressure on internet infrastructure.

Recently, the European Union requested companies such Netflix, Amazon and YouTube to take a look at their content delivery efficiency and make improvements where possible. Netflix wasted no time in taking steps to alleviate some of the pressure.  

“We immediately developed, tested and deployed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on these networks by 25% – starting with Italy and Spain, which were experiencing the biggest impact,” stated the company on Sunday. “Within 48 hours, we’d hit that goal and we’re now deploying this across the rest of Europe and the UK.”

It’s understood Netflix has since gone on to start rolling out a similar approach in Australia.

Among other major media outlets to take action is the BBC, which will reportedly stop streaming content in ultra high definition. The BBC says it will continue reviewing the situation and take further action if required.

Last week, YouTube owner Google announced the company was temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU, a move that was to be expanded globally this week.

These actions are probably in the nick of time.

Internet analysis company Ookla reported early this week it had started to see a degradation of speeds week-over-week globally, with some regions/service providers of course more heavily impacted than others. Ookla is well-positioned to make this call given it operates the world’s most widely used internet speed test application (which we use here on Lightning Broadband).

While somewhat decreased video quality may be annoying to some, at this stage of what has become a very serious situation that is far better than risking perhaps an even more degraded viewing experience.

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