YouTube is lowering the video quality for all users, not just for Europe, in order to prevent a strain on internet networks across the globe.
The change means YouTube videos will default to standard definition, which displays the content at 720-by-480 resolution. To improve the quality, you’ll have to manually change the settings on the video from 480p to 720p or 1080p for high-definition streaming. The change will last for a month.
YouTube is lowering the video quality in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing millions of people to stay at home, resulting in a surge of internet use.
“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,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “Last week, we announced that we were temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU. Given the global nature of this crisis, we will expand that change globally starting today.”
The change to SD should roll out gradually starting today and last for 30 days. Users have the option to manually change the setting, though. Thus far, the Google-owned site hasn’t seen any particular spikes in activity; instead activity has been spread out throughout the day as more people shift to working from home, according to YouTube. But the switch to SD is intended to ease any stress on the system as a whole.
The European Union kicked things off by requesting that the major streaming platforms reduce their video quality during the pandemic. In YouTube’s case, the service last week complied with that request for European users. Now it’s expanding the approach globally as more countries, including the US, also urge their citizens to stay inside. On Tuesday, India’s prime minister went as far to order a 21-day lockdown for the entire country.
Fortunately, the surge in streaming hasn’t disrupted the internet. Ookla Speedtest has only noticed small speed degradations in countries including India, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the US and Canada. But overall, the networks remain in operation.
Netflix also decided to lower its streaming quality due to the coronavirus outbreak, but only for users in Europe, India, and Israel.