The situation is spreading into different geographies: to beat COVID-19, governments are taking extreme measures to impose social distancing. Securing more and more people at home has resulted in a significant and reasonable increase of content consumption via streaming.
However, bandwidth is finite and essential for other activities such as communications between families that are physically distant, supporting the growing universe of home-office work, setting the foundation of the educational platforms schools are using to deliver online classes to their students or the growing number of telemedicine consultations from people who are too scared to go to a hospital emergency unit.
Consequences did not take long: several authorities asked streaming platforms to lower their broadcast quality from “high” to “standard”. In Europe, for example, transmission quality was slashed by 25% and involved major companies in the industry, from Netflix and Amazon to YouTube, including Disney, which was forced to launch its operations at half-speed. In some countries, the platforms took the lead and made this reduction before they were even asked to do it as a way of showing their solidarity with the situation and to avoid large-scale internet congestion.
Broadcasting companies and platforms should be working on the day after, designing novel experiences so that users are reminded of this period of poor quality streaming when accessing content as a distant mirage and not as the reality of the service they receive.