YouTube to Reduce Automatic Video Quality to 480p Standard Definition for One Month

It’s not unusual for YouTube, like other streaming leaders, to see increased traffic during evening hours when people are off work. With shelter in place orders now in effect across several communities around the globe, however, the Google-owned streaming giant is seeing a steadier flow of consumption throughout the day.

As such, YouTube announced today that it will reduce its automatic video quality to standard definition (480p) for the next month to reduce the pressure on internet infrastructure brought on by COVID-19 self-isolation measures.

After European Commissioner Thierry Breton made a public plea for video-streaming companies to reduce their internet footprint, some of the market’s biggest players stepped up and complied. Netflix said soon after that it would reduce its European traffic by 25 percent, and YouTube and Amazon Prime Video soon followed suit.

The company told Bloomberg that it is changing its default settings because it recognizes that video streams take a toll on networks, many of which are shared with people working from home. With millions more working at home due to the coronavirus, the networks owned by private ISPs are stressed far more than they would be if those workers were using their corporate networks.

“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 to Bloomberg.

Among other steps Google and YouTube are taking to provide information and support during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve encouraging YouTube creators to “spread the word to stop the spread.”

“If you choose to use YouTube to share content urging people to #StayHome, consider videos that are helpful, fun and informational and tag #StayHome and ___ #WithMe (e.g. #StayHome and cook #WithMe),” Google said in message to creators last week.

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