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Netflix, Coronavirus, Social Streaming, and the Bandwidth Battle

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With millions of people quarantined in their own homes around the globe due to coronavirus, streaming services are more popular than ever. Netflix just released a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party which allows viewers to chat with other viewers while they watch the same movie or same TV show at the same time. Users simply install Netflix Party, open a video in Netflix, create their party, and then share the party URL with friends or family (or join someone else’s party). Stuart Heritage of The Guardian has called it, “a genius invention at a difficult time.” Since many people have begun feeling the effects of isolation due to quarantine, not to mention paranoia over the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 (the CDC even released a guide on managing anxiety and stress), people are seeking connection with one another in various ways online different than before the pandemic. Now, “Netflix and chill” seems to have a whole different connotation.

A report released today, March 19, 2020, by CNN shows the European Union has urged Netflix and other streaming services to lower their video output from high definition to standard definition in an effort to curb bandwidth and prevent future problems with the internet crashing. European Commissioner Thierry Breton announced in a tweet that he had spoken with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about preventative measures and created the hashtag #SwitchToStandard to address users. Even with the sharp increase in internet usage and bandwidth consumption during the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission has reported that no outages or adverse effects have occurred yet. At this time, it has become increasingly apparent how important the internet is for keeping humans interconnected when being separated from one another ensures the most safety.

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