After interventions requested by Indian telecom companies through Department of Telecommunications, Netflix today said that it will be reducing upto 25% of traffic on Indian ISPs, without compromising much on the streaming quality. This comes after Indian telecom operators had asked video platforms to reduce streaming bit rates in order to avoid over-stressing of the network infrastructure. Netflix, Youtube and Amazon’s Prime Video have already taken similar actions in Europe.
The decision was announced today and will be in effect till one month, at least for now. Vijay Venkataramanan, Director of Post-Production at Netflix India, tweeted that users will still get a good looking stream, and that the company’s excellent compression process enables it to provide UHD quality to its consumers while still reducing its bandwidth by 25%.
The stream switches dynamically based on your bandwidth and device support. As of now, UHD will still be available, at a lower bitrate. I don’t know the exact cut offs but if youre on UHD & connection is weak & it drops below a certain bitrate, itll switch to HD and so on.
— Vijay Venkataramanan (@7th_Samurai) March 24, 2020
“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service. So 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,” Ken Florance, VP Content Delivery of Netflix, said in a statement.
Amazon Prime, Hotstar, MX player, Zee5, and other streaming platforms aim to provide similar reliefs in the coming days, and lower bit rates for their services due to the huge influx of users who are now relying more than ever on Internet for a lot of their daily activities.
Netflix provides a multitude of plans in India, some of which cap out at SD at best. For example, the most popular plan in India, the mobile friendly Rs. 199/- month version, only offers streaming at Standard Definition.
Netflix, Amazon and Google announced similar instructions in Europe, which has become the new epicentre for the coronavirus outbreak after China. Even though Netflix initially planned to reduce its streaming quality to SD, it later decided to give people the quality they paid for, albeit with a slightly lower resolution, thus achieving the same 25% decrease in traffic that it promises in India. Netflix maintains multiple streaming qualities and resolutions for every title, hence giving it the flexibility to alter bit-rates as and when the need arises.
Given the increase in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Netflix has also decided to take away its free 1 month trial period away. Instead, people can now avail the same trial period at Rs. 5 for the first month.