These voluntary measures will be in effect until April 14
In an emergency measure in view of the coronavirus, the digital industry comprising the heads of streaming platforms in India will temporarily default high definition (HD) and ultra-HD streaming to standard definition (SD) content or offering only SD content, at bitrates no higher than 480p on cellular networks. These voluntary measures will be in effect until April 14.
The move came after the Prime Minister urged citizens to practice social distancing and initiated a total lockdown. Due to lockdown, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) had written to the government seeking an issuance of directive to video-streaming platforms such as Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video to formulate measures that will ease pressure on network infrastructure. Keeping this in mind, a virtual meeting organised by Uday Shankar, chairman, Star and Disney India and with the stakeholders of digital industry, unanimously agreed to take immediate measures to act immediately in the larger national and consumer interest. The meeting was attended by NP Singh, CEO, Sony Entertainment Network; Sanjay Gupta, country manager, Google India; Ajit Mohan, VP and MD, Facebook India; Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media Private Limited; Gaurav Gandhi, director and country manager, Amazon Prime Video; Punit Goenka, MD and CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises; Nikhil Gandhi, India head, Tiktok; Ambika Khurana, director, public policy, Netflix; Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player and Varun Narang, chief product officer, Hotstar.
According to a Google spokesperson, the firm will continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do their part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation. “Last week, we announced that we were temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU. Given the global nature of this crisis, we will expand that change globally starting today,” he added.
Interestingly, Netflix on Tuesday said it has developed a way to reduce traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while maintaining the quality of its service. The over-the-top (OTT) player will be deploying the technique in India for the next 30 days. Similarly, social networking giant Facebook said it will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in India.