Disney+ is cutting back on its bandwidth utilization by 25 percent in the markets where its debuting on March 24. The company also announced that it is delaying its launch in France until April 7.
Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International at the Walt Disney Co. said in a statement that it was responding to a European Union government request.
The Disney decision follows a similar effort announced by Netflix. That company said Thursday it will limit the streaming quality of its content for the next 30 days for users in Europe to relax the strain on communications networks caused by the coronavirus lockdown.
“In line with Disney’s longstanding commitment to act responsibly, we are responding to the request of European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to work together to ensure the smooth functioning of the broadband infrastructure,” said Mayer’s statement. “In anticipation of high consumer demand for Disney+, we are proactively instituting measures to lower our overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25% in all of the markets launching Disney+ on March 24th.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
As with Netflix, at present the restrictions on quality apply only to European users.
The European Union’s Internal Market and Services Commissioner, Thierry Breton, has called on streaming platforms such as Netflix and YouTube to take measures to prevent internet gridlock as the response to the coronavirus places additional strain on communications networks.
In a call placed Wednesday, he urged Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to serve only standard definition content to users in times of peak demand. With vast numbers of people now working from home, and using video chat and digital messages to stay in touch with friends and family, and as users increase their time spent on streaming platforms, Breton said streamers’ had a role to play in ensuring telecom operators weren’t overwhelmed.
“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation,” Breton said, in a statement released after his call.
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