YouTube to reduce video quality worldwide to ease strain on internet networks

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos talks with Brian Stelter about how the company is responding to the coronavirus emergency. "Every one of our productions around the world has shut down. I believe that's unprecedented in history," Sarandos says. Affected employees will be paid for the next two weeks. Sarandos says streaming video hopefully makes people "feel a little less isolated while we are being physically isolated."

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 10:33 AM


Videos on YouTube will now default to standard definition for all users worldwide, a step down from the typical high definition that users normally see.

The move is aimed at easing the burden on internet infrastructure as lockdowns and other emergency policies have kept millions at home.

The global change, which was announced and began rolling out on Tuesday, is expected to last for approximately 30 days as millions of people around the globe stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, YouTube said the move is meant "to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation."

Users will still be able to manually change to a higher resolution on a per-video basis, YouTube told CNN.

YouTube and Netflix previously said they would reduce streaming quality in Europe for a limited time to prevent the internet collapsing under the strain of unprecedented usage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to more people working and studying from home, the internet's underlying infrastructure is expected to face "an enormous stress test," industry analysts have told CNN. Even some of the biggest tech platforms are now grappling with a greater challenge in keeping their services up and running amid surging demand.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that the company's platforms are facing "big surges" in engagement, with traffic patterns exceeding what the company ordinarily sees around the New Year's holiday.

On Tuesday, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said there is "a lot of usage, a lot of demand" on the service. During an Instagram livestream, Mosseri added that a new feature on Instagram dedicated to showing what users are doing from home — titled Stay Home — was so popular it "almost took down Instagram" in its opening hours.

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