In case you don’t already know, Google syncs all your Play Movies & TV (now Google TV) purchases with YouTube, making the latter a neat way to stream your rentals on the web. On a normal day, you’re able to watch your movies at full resolution (depending on what you paid for) across all your devices, but it seems that YouTube’s been restricting the video quality to 480p on the web since last week — even for HD purchases.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed how we all do business, take classes, and meet our family members. Many of our streaming apps have had to lower the video quality to spare some bandwidth for the more important stuff. Following Netflix’s lead, YouTube also began capping the video resolution to standard definition on mobile phones. What was supposed to be a temporary restriction for Indian users has now been in place for three months, affecting hundreds of millions, and there's no sign that Google will ease it anytime soon.
According to a report by Bloomberg published earlier today, YouTube will start limiting its streaming video quality by default, bumping everyone in the world down to "standard definition" quality — or 480p. However, higher resolutions/definitions will still be available for manual selection.
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.