Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Coronavirus: YouTube to cut video quality to standard definition in attempt to limit impact on internet

Users will still be able to switch to higher definition if they need

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 24 March 2020 16:03 GMT
Comments
A young Wolves fan wears a Mexican wrestlers mask during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers
A young Wolves fan wears a Mexican wrestlers mask during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

YouTube will cut its default video quality to standard definition in attempt to protect the internet.

The move is just one of a range of dramatic measures taken by technology companies in an attempt to keep the web working amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Companies from Netflix to Disney+ have said they will reduce the quality of their videos in an attempt to preserve bandwidth, as internet users work and study from home in attempt to limit the spread of the disease.

The new YouTube change will go into effect globally. As such, it is the first major company to make the change internationally, with others limiting the changes to Europe for now.

Videos on YouTube will now start playing standard definition, or 480p quality, according to the new report from Bloomberg.

Usually, the YouTube player will attempt to detect the speed of a connection and show the highest quality video that can be displayed. If an internet connection is sufficiently fast, that could mean up to 4K video, which uses far more data than standard definition videos.

Users will still be able to switch to high definition videos if they want to. But they will have to choose to do so, rather than having the website do so automatically.

“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 told Bloomberg in a statement.

YouTube, Apple, Amazon and Netflix have all reduced bitrates in Europe already, which will limit the quality of videos but could cut internet usage by as much as 25 per cent. Those same companies could also opt to take similar measures across the rest of the world as people self-isolate in other countries including the US.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in