With a large portion of the world’s population isolating themselves in their homes to help with the coronavirus pandemic, global internet connections are starting to feel the strain. Following guidelines from the European Union and following the lead of several other streaming video services, YouTube is downgrading its default video streaming to standard definition starting today.
It’s a big shift for a service that previously pushed 1080p or better on any video that was uploaded at that quality. But with standard streams eating up a fraction of the bandwidth of HD, it should be a substantial ease on ISPs slammed by millions of customers streaming at once. Unlike other services, YouTube’s change is worldwide, and it’s planned to stay in place for a month at the moment.
It may be a day or two before the change reaches everyone. If you want your HD YouTube videos back, that’s an option: just click or tap the settings button and manually change the quality to whatever resolution is available.
Google and YouTube are far from the first companies to enact bandwidth-saving measures. After European Union executives called for measures to curb exploding bandwidth usage, Netflix, Facebook, Disney+, Amazon, and Sony’s PlayStation servers have downgraded their European services to help with the bandwidth crunch. 30 days—planned, but provisional—seems to be the standard period of the downgrade at the moment.