The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the world. Places like Italy have been on complete lockdown for the past week. Even people working are asked to work from home and make use of digital platforms like Google Hangouts, Skype or other proprietary business services. All this time at home, especially for students has led to an increase in the time spent online. This was quite expected as people turn to the internet during this complete lockdownlifeisgood32
All this increased usage is creating a huge load on the data centers for websites such as Netflix and Youtube. While it is true that these websites are made to accommodate everyone, it is set to handle these in clusters. Therefore, if everyone on the planet would start using Youtube at the same time, it would cause a complete shutdown. This is the case in Europe where the pandemic has caused heavy damage and has made its epicenter.
To handle this, Netflix recently decreased its default quality for streaming, for its European users. This was done so that less bandwidth is hogged and thus less strain on the data centers and the servers. 9to5Google comments that now Youtube has done something similar. As you may be aware, Youtube videos may load by default at 720p or so. This is HD. It is a norm for EU nations with the internet speeds there. Now though, Youtube has forced the videos to load in SD (Standard Definition) quality by default. One may choose to change that but according to the company, many people do not bother. According to the article, this would save the company about 25% of the network traffic.
Of course, this is temporary though. They plan to shift things back to normal when the COVID-19 situation is dealt with for good.