After Netflix, YouTube will now be reducing its streaming quality in the European Union to reduce the load on the internet and minimize network congestion. The move comes as all offices, schools, and other institutions in the EU have shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of people are working from home.
EU Internal Market Commission Thierry Breton had asked everyone to reduce their internet consumption by switching to SD streaming. YouTube's decision to temporarily switch the default streaming quality to SD in the EU comes after Breton spoke to Alphabet's CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki. YouTube noted that it had noticed only a few usage peaks but still decided to act so as to reduce the stress on the system. Below is the company's statement on this move:
“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”
Netflix had estimated that by reducing bit rates across all its streams in Europe, it would reduce the traffic on European networks by around 25%. YouTube switching to SD streaming for EU users should also lead to a notable reduction in the internet load in Europe. Major internet providers in the region have already seen a spike in traffic but none of them have faced an outage or complained of excess load. However, Breton took this preventive measure to ensure the internet does not break down in the EU due to excessive load during the COVID-19 pandemic.