Given the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many folks – including us here in Malaysia – are either staying put at home or working remotely to stop the spread of the virus. To cope with the increase in internet traffic, many streaming sites have lowered their video quality to lessen broadband strain; YouTube is the latest platform to do so.
This bit of news comes from Bloomberg, and YouTube is the first video site to lower its streaming quality around the world instead of only one region. This decision comes just one week after the company implemented this limitation in Europe, one of the most affected regions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That being said, YouTube isn’t reducing its streaming quality for good; the platform is merely changing the default video quality to standard definition (480p). If you want YouTube videos to play at a higher resolution, you can still do so, though you’ll have to it manually now.
“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimise stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” YouTube said in a statement to Bloomberg.
Compared to other internet services, video streaming demands more internet bandwidth because of the sheer size of files that are being transmitted. YouTube’s decision to reduce its default video quality will definitely ease up internet traffic, given just how big of a platform it is.
Besides YouTube, Netflix has also reduced its streaming quality, but this is only limited to Europe at the moment. If the COVID-19 outbreak worsens in other parts of the world, there’s a good chance the company will limit its video quality in other markets as well; maybe even Malaysia will be affected.
Other companies that have implemented similar limitations (in Europe) to ease internet traffic include Apple, Amazon, and even PlayStation. Granted, PlayStation isn’t primarily a video streaming service, but it is currently slowing down the download speeds of games in Europe. The Japanese company assured gamers that the multiplayer experience will be unaffected by this.
A quick check on YouTube shows that it still default to 1080p video quality for us, though we expect this to change in the coming days. This limit in streaming quality on YouTube will be in effect for one whole month.