The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has changed the social fabric of the entire world almost overnight, and the ramifications of those changes are still coming to light. Now that so many people around the globe are on mandated quarantine inside their homes, there's been a massive uptick in the amount of video streaming that takes place each day. To meet that new demand for content, and keep the Internet up and running at a steady pace, streaming services are having to limit impose some strict new limits. Now YouTube is following Netflix's lead, by announcing limits on the quality of videos for at least one month.
Bloomberg News reports that as of today, Tuesday, March 24th (at the time of writing this), YouTube will "reduce the qulaity of videos around the world," in effort to "ease internet traffic during the coronavirus outbreak." Here are some of the initial changes to the service that viewers can expect:
"Over the coming days, viewers will at first see YouTube videos in standard definition, the company said. Users will still be able to watch in high definition if they want, but will have to choose to do so... While YouTube viewing has historically spiked in the evening when people are off work, consumption is now more steady across the day, the company said."0comments
As stated, the coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of civilization in so many ways that it will be years before the full ramifications are felt. Streaming is just one place that many people never considered as being directly effected by the pandemic, but it makes total sense. There was always a major percentage of the population that wasn't using streaming service during daytime hours, due to job and/or school restrictions. The biggest issue streaming services had was what to do with the surges in bandwith usage during the evening hours, when wave after wave of users returned home from school/work eager to catch up on popular videos of the day, or kick back for some leisure time viewings. Now, with so many around the world either temporarily or permanently out of work, there doesn't seem to be any measurable peak / trough flow of the bandwith - it's pretty much an all-day, everyday increase.
It might seem like a first-world problem to worry about a critical point in Internet bandwith usage, when so many other crucial elements of society (healthcare, the economy) are trying so hard to maintain. However, entertainment is also a key element of society, and if people can't get their usual release from streaming content, things get unruly quick. Hopefully everyone can just enjoy YouTube, Netflix and other services for what they are, during this unique time.