Coronavirus: YouTube Sets Videos at SD Quality by Default to Help Save Bandwidth Amid Social Distancing

With fears about bandwidth getting choked up during the current work from home measures that have been instituted around the world, many tech companies are taking steps to ensure that their usage does not get in the way on critical infrastructure. The latest to do so is Google-owned YouTube, which has announced that it will set the default quality of videos as Standard Definition (SD), in order to save bandwidth. Earlier, other streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar had taken measures to make sure they don’t stress networks during this period.

In India, YouTube said it will temporarily default HD and ultra-HD streaming to SD content at bitrates no higher than 480p on mobile networks, until April 14. In addition On YouTube in India, the company has created a promo card on the Homepage that links out to the MoHFW website for up-to-date information. Search results and videos about coronavirus also appear alongside information from reliable sources like the WHO, and it said it will also display curated playlists on topics from tips for preventing spread of the virus, to working from home more effectively.

A Google spokesperson released the following statement: “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. 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.”

According to YouTube, these measures will be rolling out globally over the next few days, and will be in action for around 30 days.

A lot of streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and more are all taking measures to avoid stressing of networks.

Even Disney+ is reportedly set to launch with reduced quality in Europe, in order to reduce network stress as millions turn to streaming services to spend time indoors.

Netflix has, in fact, lowered the video quality in India for the next 30 days in order to ease internet traffic. Hotstar has locked users at SD video quality.

The concerns about internet bandwidth have grown in the past few days as people across the world are confined within their homes and the coronavirus outbreak has given birth to a significant shift in the way internet is being used. People are working from home, streaming more videos and playimg more video games. Apart from that, everything else has also been taken online. Even schools and colleges have turned to videoconferencing.

However, YouTube noted that for the most part, the company has seen little change in the peaks, and has mostly seen changes in usage patterns from more people at home-expanding across additional hours and lower usage peaks. Despite that, it said it is taking this action globally to do its part to minimise stress on the system.

Health Warning: Please be responsible and safe, wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing

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