The company made the announcement today (March 24) following their decision implementing the shift in several European countries last week.
The downgrade in streaming quality is rolling out worldwide while the company says they will start doing so slowly over time.
Users will still be able to manually adjust their settings from standard definition to HD though. They released a statement which you can read below.
“Last week, we temporarily defaulted all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), and Switzerland (CH). Given the global nature of this crisis, we are expanding that change globally starting today. This update is slowly rolling out, and users can manually adjust the video quality.”
Several other companies have made similar moves across the globe as a way of ensuring people aren’t seeing an inability to use the internet while most everyone is self isolating.
“To help alleviate any potential network congestion during the #COVID19 crisis, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe,” a Facebook spokesperson tweeted.
To help alleviate any potential network congestion during the #COVID19 crisis, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe [1/2] #coronavirus https://t.co/I7BqRiepev
— Alexandru Voica (@alexvoica) March 22, 2020
According to The Wrap, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, David Clarke, says the U.S. won’t see nearly as many moves like this. Clarke told the publication that the U.S. isn’t at as much of a risk as Europe for internet crashes.
Use of streaming services has surged over the past few weeks due to self-isolation. Bloomberg notes a 20 percent increase globally for the weekend of March 14 to 15.
Last week, YouTube also released a statement for content creators using the platform about what they can do to help during the pandemic. Along with a statement, they also made a video discussing their changes.
“You’ve asked us how you can help with the evolving COVID-19 situation, and as a YouTube Creator, here’s something you can do now → 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).”
What do you think of YouTube adjusting to standard definition during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.