A few days back, YouTube was rumoured to be planning to default all videos on its platform to SD quality (480p) in Europe. The main reason for this was to ensure networks could handle all the traffic as a result of people working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Fast forward a few days later and this is the expected video quality globally. YouTube plans to default videos to 480p quality globally over the next few days. This will be the case for a month and we may see an extension if the current pandemic and movement restrictions stay as they are. Let us hope things change within the next 30 days.
Defaulting to SD quality does not mean that you cannot watch videos on high quality, you will still be able to change the resolution of the video to a higher one manually. All these changes mean that every video that you open will be in 480p. If this is not an issue for you and if you have been watching videos at 480p or lower, the changes do not mean much for you.
For YouTube, it hopes that many people will not go ahead and change the resolution of the videos and this will relieve the pressure on the networks. With many people working from home, streaming platforms see an increase in activity on days they never see such activities.
We have seen other platforms including Netflix do a similar thing during this period and some people say it is not necessary as we have not seen any serious outages or slowdowns on these platforms since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.