YouTube Making Major Change in Light of Coronavirus Quarantine Streaming

YouTube is making some changes to accomodate the global coronavirus pandemic, primarily by defaulting to standard definition (SD) formats for all videos. The site made an announcement this week about how it is dealing with the increase in web traffic as more and more people are out of work or working from home. In order to streamline browsing, high-definition (HD) videos must fall away.

"Given the global nature of this crisis, we are expanding that change [to default to SD video] globally starting today," YouTube said in a press release on Friday. "This update is slowly rolling out, and users can manually adjust the video quality."

In a follow-up statement published by Bloomberg, YouTube's parent company, Google, added: "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."

Users have likely already started to see the change to SD videos if they are looking closely at YouTube. The lower video quality became standard everywhere on Tuesday, though in some places it was already in effect. Europe has reportedly been operating on an SD standard for a while now, as it is still the pandemic's epicenter.

Regulators have reportedly asked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services to reduce their bandwidth usage as well. Areas effected by the COVID-19 pandemic have reported massive surges in Internet traffic, particularly on streaming services.

YouTube has reported that traffic has changed in timing as well. Whereas before things got busiest when the average person got out of work, now there is reportedly a more steady stream of consumption throughout the day. YouTube already had means of limiting video quality based on the strength of a user's Internet connection. The company said that it does not fear a shortage of Internet bandwidth any time soon, but that this is a preemptive measure.

New cases of coronavirus are still on the rise in many parts of the world. At the time of this writing, the total of confirmed global cases stands at over 417,000. Of those, over 108,000 people have been confirmed to have recovered, while there have been 18,605 confirmed deaths.


In the U.S., the total number of cases is over 53,000, with 371 confirmed recoveries. There have been 696 confirmed deaths so far.

For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.