YouTube drops video quality to standard def globally

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YouTube videos are going to look a bit worse the next month.
Photo: YouTube

YouTube viewers are set to see a big drop in video quality worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alphabet-owned streaming giant revealed that it will reduce the quality of all videos to standard definition starting today as a way to alleviate internet congestions due to more people having to shelter in place.

YouTube says that users will still be able to switch videos to HD and other high-quality options, but standard definition will be set to the default no matter how much bandwidth you have. The site already implemented the streaming quality measures in Europe last week and is rolling it out to other countries this week.

“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,” YouTube said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The new changes will stay in effect for one month. YouTube isn’t the only company to lower bit rates. Netflix, Apple and Amazon have taken similar moves to lower their strain on networks too. YouTube doesn’t think we’ll experience any bandwidth shortages soon but is taking preemptive matters now just in case.

To increase the bit rate of videos manually, click the settings gear in the bottom right corner of a video, select Quality and then tap on 1080p or higher.