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Coronavirus: Why quality of YouTube videos has gone down

YouTube on Tuesday announced that it will be lowering the video quality as a precautionary measure in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing one billion people to stay at home and creating a surge in internet use.

Internet usage has spiked as many people are forced to stay at home in response to the on-going coronavirus outbreak.

The change means YouTube videos will default to standard definition, which displays the content at 720-by-480 resolution.

To improve the quality, you’ll have to manually change the settings on the video from 480p to 720p or 1080p for high-definition streaming. The change will last for a month.

“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,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Last week, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and also YouTube announced that they would be reducing the video streaming quality in the EU to ease on bandwidth strain due to increased number of users.

“Last week, we announced that we were temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU. Given the global nature of this crisis, we will expand that change globally starting today.”

YouTube viewing has historically spiked in the evening when people are off work; consumption is now more steady across the day, the company said.

Streaming video requires more internet bandwidth than music, messaging or maps because of the size of the files transmitted.

Google was the largest consumer of traffic volume on the internet last year, just ahead of Netflix, according to a study by Sandvine, a network analysis firm.