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YouTube cuts video quality worldwide

After making a similar move in Europe, YouTube announced today it is defaulting video streaming to standard-definition for 30 days to help network operators manage the data load as millions of people work and school from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, YouTube temporarily defaulted all YouTube videos to SD in the European Union, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Disney+ have also reduced bit rates in Europe to help reduce the stress on networks in the region. Netflix has also cut back on bit rates in India, but YouTube is the first in this group to extend this temporary policy worldwide.

"Given the global nature of this crisis, we are expanding that change globally starting today," YouTube announced today in an updated post first spotted by Bloomberg.

YouTube noted that the update is rolling out across the globe slowly, and that users still have the option to manually update their video quality.

According to info released last week by bandwidth management tech company Sandvine, overall YouTube has extended its traffic lead on Netflix during the COVID-19 crisis, "and sometimes by as much as twice the volume." YouTube crossed 2 billion monthly users last year.

Also tied to COVID-19 and Google's policy to have its people work from home, YouTube has warned that there will be a temporary increase of video removals and a longer turn-around on reviews and appeals on videos that are taken down due to possible policy violations.

YouTube, which estimates that 500 hours of video is uploaded to the service every minute, noted that it is currently more dependent on automated removals and that human-led reviews will take longer because some employees might live in remote areas or don't have the required technical infrastructure to conduct reviews from home.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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