With the shift to telecommuting en masse, home broadband connections are under a tremendous load following the surge in data needs for things like video conferencing. While the situation is similar around the world, Europe is hit particularly hard with entire countries under lockdown. To ease some of that network congestion, Netflix yesterday decided to lower its streaming quality in the region, and now, YouTube is following suit.
According to Reuters, YouTube will default its videos to standard definition, which is 480p on the service, across the European Union. It likely means the videos will automatically load at the said resolution, and users will still have the option to switch to HD, unlike on Netflix, where everything happens in the back end. The Google-owned streaming giant took the step reportedly after EU industry chief Thierry Breton spoke to Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Two of my colleagues in Europe tested YouTube’s Android app for this change, and the video quality did default to 480p, but that wasn’t the case on a desktop browser, where a 4K video started at the 1080p resolution. Chances are YouTube hasn’t rolled out the cap for everyone in the region just yet, considering the announcement was made only a few hours back. Given the fact that video streaming makes up for a huge chunk of internet traffic, limiting the video quality should have some positive effects at large.