Disney+ to Reduce Bandwidth in Europe By 25 Percent

Disney+ is cutting back bandwidth utilization by 25 percent in all markets set to launch the streaming service on March 24. The cut is in response to a European Union request and comes just days after Netflix made a similar announcement that it would be limiting streaming bit rates around Europe to help ease strain on various communication networks currently seeing greater strain due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a statement, Disney will continue to monitor internet congestion and may further reduce bitrates so as not to overwhelm the system with consumer demand.

"In line with Disney's longstanding commitment to act responsibly, we are responding to the request of the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to work together to ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure," Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International at the Walt Disney Co. said in a statement (via Deadline).

"In the coming days, we will be monitoring Internet congestion and working closely with Internet service providers to further reduce bitrates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand," the statement continued. "We look forward to the launch of Disney+ and hope it will provide a much-needed respite for families in these challenging and trying times."

In addition to the bitrate reduction, Disney also announced that the rollout of the French Disney+ launch was being delayed to April 7 on request of the French government.

"To our French fans, the Disney+ service is coming, but at the request of the French government, we have agreed to postpone the launch until Tuesday, 7 April, 2020."

Generally speaking, slowing down bitrates will result in a slightly lower than normal picture quality, but it shouldn't be a major shift for users. What it will do, however, is allow the internet to continue functioning normally, which is important given the work-from-home situations many in Europe and across the globe are experiencing as efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 continue. Earlier this week, Netflix made a similar announcement, noting that they would reduce their bitrates in Europe for 30 days to reduce traffic but while also still ensuring quality service for users.

"Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days," a spokesperson for Netflix said in a statement to The Verge. "We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members."

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At this time, there has been no announcement of any reductions in the United States for either Disney+ or Netflix.