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COVID-19 – Disney+ to Reduce Video Streaming Quality by 25%

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 (8:05 am) - Score 3,007

The new Disney+ streaming service, which is due to launch on Tuesday 24th March 2020 next week, has perhaps unsurprisingly become the latest online video platform to confirm they will reduce their bitrates (image quality) in order to help UK and EU broadband ISPs cope with demand during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The company, which intends to charge £5.99 per month for access (a special launch offer of £49 per year is currently running – equivalent to £4.08 per month), appears to be copying Netflix’s approach by “proactively instituting measures to lower our overall bandwidth utilisation by at least 25% in all of the markets.”

In other words, additional compression will be applied to their video streams and so you may notice more distortion in the image quality. But one point to make here is that all of those taking the service will be new customers and so there’s no real established base of comparison among consumers.

As we’ve said before, broadband ISPs in the United Kingdom currently appear to be managing their capacity quite well and the rising levels of data traffic from residential connections has been manageable (covered here). Indeed ISPs are able to cope with way above normal levels and many of them also cache video content much closer to their end-users (helps to significantly ease the burden on their networks and external links).

Kevin A. Mayer, Disney Chair of Direct-to-Consumer, said:

“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. 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.”

So far Disney+, Amazon, YouTube and Netflix have all made changes to reduce their streaming quality (the BBC’s iPlayer service may follow). But the real impact test is likely to come next week when more children than usual (schools are now closed) suddenly join their parents in working, playing and streaming from home. We note that there are at least no big sporting events taking place to help suck away bandwidth from other tasks.

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar James

    Does all this apply to the UK?
    Netflix, Amazon, YouTube & Disney+

  2. Avatar Andy

    I’ve cancelled my subs to all of these, was going to try Disney+ but no way paying substandard services, IMO we all should UK IPS’s have said multiple time they is NO reason for this in UK. EU need to keep there nose OUT, so glad we are leaving at end of December, it can’t come soon enough.

    • Avatar Seppi Evans

      Likewise I was about to Subscribe to Disney+ but with a large TV a low bitrate stream just is not worth it at the moment.

    • Avatar Name

      It’s not needed in the EU either. Some f*cking idiot (EU Commissioner) who doesn’t even know that is the IP address asked for that and another idiots (Netflix, Amazon, YT, Disney-) followed.

  3. Avatar Danny

    For God’s sake the UK does not require the bitstream downgrade!

  4. Avatar James

    Use VPN oitside europe boom 4k streams

  5. Avatar Tom

    I feel that people need to get a little sense of perspective. We are in a very uncertain time at the moment, over the next few weeks more and more people will be working from home. While at the moment the UK network is coping well, we don’t know how well it will be in say 3-4 weeks.

    Does it really matter that your stream is now in 720p instead of 4K? It wasn’t that long ago we were just playing movies on DVDs.

    If all you have to worry about is the quality of stream then consider yourself lucky.

    Seriously people wake up to the current crisis and go help others that are currently in isolation and can’t get out!

    • Avatar Andrew Gambini

      You are wrong.. all these people commenting about the nitrate drop are right..

      Let them cancel their subscriptions, it’ll leave more bandwidth for the rest of us.

    • Avatar Mike


      Not necessarily, people can get full resolution copies from file sharing sites.

  6. Avatar Andrew Gambini


  7. Avatar Toby Adams

    This should be on an ISP basis. I doubt VM would have any issue.

  8. Avatar Julian

    Disney+ quality is noticeably degraded compared to Netflix – far too heavy-handed. Amazon needed to optimise bit rates anyway as they’re using more bandwidth than any other service even in normal times. YouTube’s settings can be overridden, but by default is using 1080p instead of 4K.

    As for NowTV and Britbox, both services have other issues. NowTV has nothing worthwhile to watch and in any case only used 720p. Britbox is not a service worth paying for in lieu of the TV licence. So no one is watching them anyway to verify.

  9. Avatar Ant

    Does anybody know when Disney plus will be back to normal? (Atmos ) UK.
    I here 30 days from 24th March .
    Stay safe though guys it’s not that important in perspective.

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