Following Netflix’s decision to lower the quality of its streams in Europe and India over the past few days, YouTube has now announced plans to follow suit and reduce the default streaming quality on its own platform. In a statement to Bloomberg on Tuesday, the company said that it will stream its content in standard definition (SD) by default for the next 30 days to help ease internet traffic during the coronavirus outbreak.
The plan seems to have been implemented already, as the company has started offering SD streams by default on its website as well as on its Android app. Do note that the company is not taking away the HD option entirely, and users will still be able to manually switch to high-definition streaming if they want to. The company’s solution, however, differs from that of Netflix, which decided to retain the HD and 4K video resolutions, but at lower bitrates to reduce bandwidth consumption.
Either way, being the single largest streaming platform in India, YouTube’s decision will likely help telecom operators in the country reduce network load at a time when bandwidth consumption is at an all-time high worldwide because of increased video streaming and videoconferencing with most of the world staying indoors and working from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to German internet exchange company, DE-CIX, average data traffic at its main network node in Frankfurt recently hit a record 9.1 terabits per second throughput, largely due to a 50 percent increase in video-conferencing traffic and a 25 percent increase in cloud-gaming and social media use. One can only hope that the reduced video quality on major streaming platforms will help rectify this situation somewhat.