Netflix will reduce its bitrate across Africa, but what does that mean?

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Before we begin, what the hell is Tiger King? That series is just a wave of hits you never see coming.

Something we did see coming locally, however, was a reduction in Netflix’s bitrate as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes many people around the world into their homes.

While working from home, many folks may be streaming content and that puts severe strain on internet exchanges and other infrastructure.

As such Netflix has been trying to reduce the amount of traffic its services make use of by limiting the bitrate of its content. The long and short of this means that Netflix traffic should drop by 25 percent.

“We will provide relief to ISPs who are dealing with large government-mandated “shelter in place” orders by providing the 25% traffic reduction we’ve started in Europe,” vice president of content delivery at Netflix, Ken Florance said earlier this month.

So what does this mean for the South African viewer? Not all that much to be frank.

Customers will still be able to view content in UHD, HD or SD without noticing too much of a drop in quality. How does Netflix do this?

For every piece of content on Netflix there is a stream for a particular resolution. Netflix has – for the next 30 days – removed the streams which use the most bandwidth.

This means that only the most vigilant subscribers will notice a slight dip in fidelity but for the most part you’ll still be able to stream at your resolution of choice.

This bitrate limitation came into effect this morning and will extend for the next 30 days.

Netflix is not alone in mitigating the effects of increased streaming. Last week YouTube announced it would limit videos to 480p by default though viewers are able to select different resolutions after opening a video.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.