The Walt Disney Company confirmed today that it will reduce the streaming quality of Disney+ when it launches in the EU market on March 24. The move is in response to a request by European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton to help minimize strain on internet networks in the region amid growing demand due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, Disney has also delayed the launch of Disney+ in France until April 7. The move was taken at the request of the French government.
The streaming service will be offered in only one tier that's available to all members of a family, with support for streaming content in 4K. Customers in the EU will be paying £5.99/€6.99 per month or £59.99/€69.99 annually for that; however, they will no longer be able to watch their favorite shows in high resolutions.
Disney Chairman Kevin Mayer said in a statement:
"In anticipation of high consumer demand for Disney+, we are proactively instituting measures to lower our overall bandwidth utilisation 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."
It's not clear, though, whether pricing for the service will also be lowered as part of this move. Disney+ joins other streaming platforms in reducing its streaming bit rate in Europe, where internet usage saw a dramatic spike as people stay or work from home as per government advice. Vodafone, for example, reported a 50% increase in data usage in some European countries due to the virus fallout.