Streaming: Why Does the Picture Quality Change?

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Q. I have four streaming services — Disney Plus, Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access — and I like them all. But there’s one thing I don’t understand. Sometimes the picture is absolutely perfect, and then it blurs up a bit for several seconds, and then it goes back to the perfect picture! It doesn’t happen all the time, but too often for my taste. Can this be fixed? — Jasmine, Reston, Virginia.

Jasmine, you are not alone in this frustration. Due to countless factors, your TV’s picture quality may vary regardless of which streaming service you are watching, including Netflix, Disney, CBS, Amazon Prime, Hulu or whatever.

Why?

The picture can go from crystal-clear to average to downright blurry in a just a matter of seconds, depending upon the strength of your Internet connection, or the service’s server and delivery system.

For example, you could be watching Narcos: Mexico, the superb drama about Mexican drug cartels on Netflix, and the high-def picture (or 4K picture; Narcos is available in 4K) will look fantastic. (By the way, season two of Narcos: Mexico premieres this Thursday.)

But then suddenly the picture will lose some detail and clarity, perhaps looking like something you might see on an old VHS tape. And then a few seconds later, it will revert back to a high-quality picture.

If this happens to you, it’s quite possible that your Internet signal strength experienced a slight dip during the change. This can happen with any Internet plan, which is why you want to subscribe to a plan that offers a very high speed, such as 100 Mbps or better.

With a high-speed plan, you will be less likely to notice a decrease in signal strength because, even with the dip, the signal will be strong enough to deliver a solid picture.

Jasmine, if you think your Netflix picture lacks consistency, and your Internet signal may be the cause, you can test your speed at various web sites, including SpeedTest.net and Fast.com. If the test indicates your Internet speed is lower than what your Internet Service Provider says it should be, give them a call.

Finally, it’s also possible that your streaming service is to blame. It may be experiencing some technical snafu that is causing your picture to buffer, or lose crispness. This happens from time to time, but usually doesn’t last long. If it does — and you eliminated your home Internet service as the cause — contact your streaming service to see if it’s having issues.

Hope that helps, Jasmine. Happy viewing.

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1 comments on “Streaming: Why Does the Picture Quality Change?”

  1. Another cause WILL be if you are USING Wifi.
    Wifi can cause LOTS of problems including Pixilating, to NO Picture.
    Wifi will also SLOW down your speed.
    Connect the TV DIRECTLY to your Modem or Router
    with a CAT 5 or 6, HARD WIRED CABLE

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