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Netflix to temporarily reduce bit rate in Europe to ease internet pressure during coronavirus social distancing

The streaming giant will drop the video bit rate for a period of 30 days. Credit: PA

Netflix has said it will temporarily reduce the bit rate of videos on its platform to ease pressure on internet service providers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The platform - home to hit shows including Stranger Things and The Crown - will drop the video bit rate for 30 days.

People will continue to getthe level of service they have paid for (4K, SD, UHD) - but at the lowest bitrate possible.

It comes as people in the UK and around Europe resort to working from home and self-isolation, while some parts of the continent are subject to lockdowns.

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The move from the streaming giant follows calls from the EU's European Commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton.

The streaming service has said the measures will apply to Europe and the UK.

Netflix says it expects the move to cut its European traffic by about 25% but assured users they will still receive a "good quality service".

Exercisers adhere to social distancing measures during a group fitness session. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for Netflix said: "Given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus - Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days."

The Mr Breton praised Netflix boss Reed Hastings for showing a "strong sense of responsibility and solidarity" on the issue, adding: "I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users."

Sports are on hold, movie theaters are closed and so are amusement parks - but streaming services are going strong. Credit: AP

Internet service providers in the UK have insisted they are "ready" to handle extra broadband demand from people following Government guidelines and staying at home during the pandemic.

Last week, Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA), which represents the industry, said: "ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks."

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