YouTube started this week to lower the standard quality of all videos on its platform. The decision relates to the need to alleviate the impact of website traffic on networks around the world during the coronavirus pandemic, and is in line with that applied by other services, such as Netflix, Facebook and Instagram.
Over the next few days, all videos will be called 480p. Users can increase the quality of the video after it starts, but the adjustment has to be done manually.
It should be recalled that the European Commission asked the major streaming platforms to adapt their services to the increase in demand, in order to avoid internet congestion during the pandemic. Traffic generated by viewing content on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has increased exponentially in the past few weeks, as measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus require the isolation of millions of people at home.
Historically, visits to YouTube increase at the end of the day, when people leave work. However, in recent weeks, demand has remained constant throughout the day. Note that the use of Google services was responsible for most of the traffic generated in 2019, according to a study by Sandvine.
Video streaming requires more bandwidth than streaming music, texting or browsing applications, given the size of the files that are transmitted.
YouTube already limited the standard quality of the videos based on the quality of the user's connection, but in Europe, where the average speed of connections is sufficient to watch videos in at least 1080p, the impact of the platform is greater.
In a statement, Google clarifies that it continues to "work with governments and operators around the world" to conclude what else it can do to "minimize the burden of its services during this unprecedented situation".