YouTube has announced that it will reduce the default image quality of streaming video in Europe to handle the internet pressure that will soar with millions staying at homes due to coronavirus fears.
The news came after EU commissioner for the digital economy Thierry Breton urged YouTube and Netflix to switch from high definition to the former standard definition that reduces the file sizes of the video that is being streamed.
“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity,” a Google spokesperson said.
“Following the discussion between Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki and Commissioner Thierry Breton we are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition by default.”
Separately, Netflix will “begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson for the streaming giant said in a statement. It is said that this move will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while compromising on the quality.
With wide-ranging lockdowns and quarantines, schools, shops and borders closed and gatherings banned, people across Europe are increasingly turning to the internet to stave off boredom.
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But the huge file sizes of high definition offerings from web giants like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon are slowing the web, Breton warned.
“Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain,” he said in a tweet Thursday, calling for online platforms to switch to streaming in standard definition instead of HD.
Gamers breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after the end of an hours-long network outage that affected Nintendo’s online games and prompted despair from users.