YouTube to limit streaming quality over coronavirus

YouTube has confirmed plans to limit the quality of its video streams around the world from today (March 25) as more people work from home and self-isolate over COVID-19 concerns.

As many countries, including China, the United Kingdom, India and some parts of the United States go into “lockdown mode” with citizens unable to leave their homes except for essential supplies, YouTube is limiting streaming quality to reduce the burden on its servers and indeed on internet service providers around the world, following a peak in demand.

The change was introduced in Europe last week, as European governments asked streaming giants like Netflix and YouTube to limit quality to reduce the burden on servers.

Now, Bloomberg has confirmed that the changes will be rolled out around the world.

As standard, videos will now load in standard definition, and users will have to request to change to high definition on a video-by-video basis. During a test, 4K video did still play, but it was much slower than before, perhaps due to increased demand for internet services.

Speaking of the changes, the company said: “YouTube already limits the quality of video based on the strength of a user’s internet connection. YouTube doesn’t believe the world will run out of internet bandwidth any time soon, but is taking a preemptive measure given growing concerns at the government level.”

“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,” Google added in a statement.

YouTube is not alone in limiting its streaming quality. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ and Disney+ have all agreed to limit the quality of their streams for the foreseeable future.

Have you noticed a difference in streaming quality yet? Let us know on social media and check back soon for more news and rumors on everything YouTube and COVID-19.

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