In March, Netflix had to reduce streaming quality in many markets, including South Africa. The massive increase in demand due to stay-at-home orders and quarantines around the world forced Netflix to temporarily lower bitrates in order to give them time to upgrade their servers.
With millions more subscribers around the world, they have now sufficiently increased their streaming capacity and are ready to return to full quality. Another reason for the lowering of bitrates was to lower Netflix’s impact on worldwide internet speeds when getting information to people quickly was paramount.
According to Netflix, they are “working with ISPs to help increase capacity.” This comes as many countries around the world start reopening from restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. “In the last month alone we have added four times the normal capacity. As conditions improve we will lift these limitations,” they added.
The rollback has already started in Europe, according to FlatPanelsHD. They have been running some tests through user accounts and note that “In mid-March Netflix lowered its streaming quality in Europe in response to a request from the EU to help ease strain on the internet infrastructure in these times of nationwide lockdowns. Netflix subscribers in Denmark, Norway, Germany, and other European countries have contacted FlatpanelsHD or taken to forums to report that streaming quality has been restored, meaning 4K HDR streaming at up to 15 Mb/s bitrate. HD bitrates are also reverting back to normal.”
The streaming capacity hasn’t been restored everywhere, but this should follow soon in most markets around the world.