YouTube to Default to SD to Preserve Bandwidth

(Image credit: YouTube)

SAN BRUNO, Calif.—A week after Google announced that it was downgrading its YouTube streaming service to standard definition in Europe to reduce bandwidth during the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced today that it will extend the policy worldwide, according to Bloomberg (opens in new tab)

The transition will take place over the “coming days.” Viewers will have the option to watch in HD, however the default will be SD. It instituted the policy last week in Europe (opens in new tab), in response to a request by European regulators to Netflix and Amazon Prime to reduce bandwidth usage. 

As millions of citizens worldwide take shelter at home in response to the pandemic, this has greatly increased bandwidth usage throughout the day, instead of traditionally peaking in the evening, according to Google. According to researcher Sandvine, Google was the largest consumer of traffic volume on the internet in 2019, with Netflix in second. 

“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” Google said in a statement.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.