Don’t adjust your television just yet. If you are in Europe, your favorite Netflix series might not be streaming in HD anymore. However, this isn’t because of a problem with your TV or PC media codecs.
The problem rests with the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Why are My Favorite Netflix Series Streaming in SD?
If you are using a VPN to watch Netflix, you may be starting to notice a difference in the streaming quality of your favorite shows.
When viewing shows in the U.S, Netflix series might stream in high-definition (HD) as usual. However, movies and TV series in the EU are now only streaming in standard definition (SD). The problem, though, isn’t with your VPN.
In Europe and the UK, millions of people are currently in Coronavirus lockdown. For many, their only source of entertainment is being provided by streaming services like Netflix.
As a result Internet traffic in the EU is starting to become congested.
- Major Internet traffic bottlenecks are starting to manifest in many rural areas.
- Millions of employees are beginning to work online. This is seeing rates of VPN use rise by as much as 112% in places like Italy .
- Stress on networks has already seen major crashes of remote working platforms like Microsoft Teams, and UK cellular networks like Virgin Mobile.
Netflix and Other Streaming Services are Limiting Bandwidth on Purpose
To help prevent Internet service outages, Netflix, Apple, Disney, and YouTube are purposefully reducing the streaming quality of on-demand media. This means that for now in the EU, most online media is only available in standard definition.
Can I Still Use a VPN to Stream Netflix?
Most agree that the Netflix March 2020 decision to only stream content in SD is a smart move. Like Covid-19 social distancing, this allows everyone to play a role in making sure that major Internet blackouts don’t occur.
Sadly, if you are in the EU, it is also the case that many Netflix series and movies aren’t available to you. At least, not unless you use a VPN to connect to Netflix from within the United States.
Are you using a VPN to access more Netflix content while in self-isolation? If so you might feel guilty about continuing to stream shows in high-definition. However, there is an easy way to remedy this.
- In Netflix, you can manually adjust media playback settings to reduce streaming quality.
- Go to ‘My Profile,’ and then select ‘Playback Settings.’
- Under the ‘Data Usage’ menu, select Standard Definition (SD).
In most cases, laptop and tablet users won't notice much of a drop in quality when streaming in SD. As a bonus, you will be able to free bandwidth that other home Internet users can use to play games, work, or stream their own content.
What is the Best VPN for Netflix During the Covid-19 Crisis?
Are you in Coronavirus self-isolation? If so, using a VPN is an easy way to (legally) get access to more top-quality streaming content. However, now isn’t the best time to be using popular VPN services like Nord.
A major rise in VPN usage is seeing many popular VPN providers start to struggle to maintain network speeds and 24/7 uptime. The best thing is to check out our recommended VPN and find the one that works best for you.
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.