YouTube will begin reducing the quality of its videos for users around the world starting today. With a growing percentage of people staying at home for the next few weeks and months, YouTube hopes this new streaming quality limit will keep the video sharing website running smoothly amid the increased traffic (via Bloomberg).
This change began in Europe last week, and will hit worldwide over the coming days. YouTube videos will default to standard definition, and if users want to watch in high definition, they will have to choose to do so from the settings menu on a video.
YouTube already limits the quality of video based on the strength of a user’s internet connection. YouTube doesn’t believe the world will run out of internet bandwidth any time soon, but is taking a preemptive measure given growing concerns at the government level.
“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” Google said in a statement.
Many streaming companies are taking similar precautions, with Netflix cutting streaming data bitrates last week, and Apple TV+ lowering streaming quality in Europe. Most of these changes began in Europe after the European Union asked these companies to temporarily reduce streaming quality to ease the strain on broadband networks, and now we're seeing similar policies spread to the United States and other countries.