Apple TV+ cuts streaming quality in Europe to lower stress on internet

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Following a request to streaming services to switch from high definition to standard in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet, indications were Friday that Apple has followed suit of other major services and slowed down its Apple TV+ streaming service.

Cult of Mac has confirmed through two Apple TV users – one in Great Britain and one in southern France – that the quality of content on Apple TV+ has been lowered. Subscribers described the differences as primarily fast-moving content that is slower to refresh, heavily compressed and more pixelated.

“It’s appreciable different,” said Eric Turner, an Apple TV user living in Southern France. Turner said on his 72-inch LCD television he is unable to stream 4K HDR content from Apple TV+ and that it appears to be a resolution less than 700 pixels.

“It’s not beautiful, I can say that,” Turner commented.

Various other news services are reporting similar findings, including 9to5Mac, who first broke the story Friday afternoon.

Apple has not replied to multiple requests from Cult of Mac for comment on these developments. It is unclear how long Apple plans to stream at reduced quality levels or if it plans to adjust those levels to improve picture quality.

EU asks streaming services to cut bitrates

On Thursday and Friday, various streaming content companies – from Netflix, to Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube – throttled back their bandwidth usage to customers after EU Commission internal markets chief Thierry Breton called on streaming platforms to cut their bitrates in Europe to prevent an overload.

Using the hashtag #SwitchToStandard, Breton asked consumers on Wednesday to stream content in standard instead of high definition so that the continent could “secure Internet access for all.”

“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” YouTube said a press statement Friday.

“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,” an Amazon statement read. “Prime Video [has] already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.”

Netflix said on Thursday that it will continue using a lower quality stream for the next 30 days.

Keeping the internet running smoothly

It is expected that the coronavirus crisis, which is forcing millions around the world to stay at home, will result in a significant increase in internet demand. More and more people will be going online for work and entertainment.

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