YouTube videos will default to standard definition in an attempt to lessen the platform's impact on internet traffic. As increasing numbers of people are forced to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, the video site is hoping to reduce it bandwidth usage, along with a number of other major streamers.
Viewers will be able to opt-in to view videos in high definition, but they'll have to choose to do so. The scheme is being rolled out worldwide, having been introduced in Europe after EU regulators asked streaming services including Netflix and Amazon to help reduce stress on Internet Service Providers, who have seen major spikes in usage since the implementation of lockdowns and home-working procedures due to the virus.
According to Bloomberg, YouTube says that traffic, which usually surges in the evenings, is now remaining steady throughout the day, but is now even higher than normal. Video streaming uses far more bandwidth than both music and videogames, and while platform owner Google says that it believes global bandwidth is not at risk, it is working closely "with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimise stress on the system during this unprecedented situation."