YouTube is reducing the quality of videos for the next month - and it's because increased traffic amid the coronavirus outbreak is straining internet bandwidth

youtube logo with laptops

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

YouTube is reducing the default streaming quality of videos for users across the globe beginning Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider.

It's an attempt to limit the strain on internet providers globally, which have seen a surge in traffic in recent weeks as millions of people stay home in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.Advertisement

YouTube videos that previously streamed in high definition by default will now default to standard definition for the coming month. Viewers will still be able to select high definition manually for the time being, Bloomberg first reported.

YouTube and Netflix, two of the most popular video sites in the world, had already announced that they would throttle video quality in Europe amid unprecedented demand. YouTube's latest announcement will expand the provision to users across the globe.

YouTube accounts for roughly 35% of all global internet traffic, while Netflix accounts for 15%, according to Sandvine. A Google spokesperson said that, in recent weeks, YouTube has seen more traffic throughout the day, whereas traffic was previously more concentrated around "usage peaks" in the evening.
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"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 to Business Insider. "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."

Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence
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