back to article Hypochondriacs – are your eyes all blurry? It's just YouTube trying to cut video-stream quality worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic

If you start noticing a slightly blurrier quality to YouTube videos, no, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. The Google-owned streaming platform is gradually reducing the default quality of its streamed content for all users across the world in an attempt to not overwhelm networks as everyone stays at home amid the …

  1. bombastic bob Silver badge

    possibly avoiding network congestion issues

    the problems may be in the middle, not at the ends...

    but yeah in a "this is what would happen if EVERYBODY did" moment, just like missing products on otherwise crammed-full-o-stuff store shelves, when you count on a certain level of utilization, and it SUDDENLY increases beyond expectations, THIS is what you get. (fortunately, with capitalism, bread lines up for people, so it's just a matter of time for production to ramp up to meet demand).

    At least it's not sociopathic to stream a lot of videos, like hoarding toilet paper would be...

  2. JimBob01


    “Broadband ISPs have been quick to claim they have the capacity to handle everyone's video streams”

    But wait, I thought that Netflix et al were overloading the Internet and should be paying a premium because of that?

    Come on ISPs, make up your mind!

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      Or maybe content providers could cut back on the ads. If there is actual concern about bandwidth, declaring an ad holiday would go a long way toward opening things up.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        Oh don't get me started on the waste of bandwidth and sheer annoyance of having to watch adverts before each and every stream I play on Amazon Prime. Can't even switch it off. At least Netflix have finally had the decency to allow you to switch off their shocking auto previews when scrolling through content. I suspect though that was more to do with competition coming along than listening to customers.

  3. Totally not a Cylon
    Paris Hilton

    Virtue signalling.

    It's just these companies being seen to be 'doing something', which actually costs them little.

    If they really wanted to help people they could offer newer films to stream, reduce fees etc........

    or open the back catalog of 80s & 90s TV shows, nice old VHS or DVD quality.......

    What the game networks are doing makes more sense; reducing the bandwidth on an 110GB game download will help.

    1. AVee

      Re: Virtue signalling.

      It probably isn't costing very little, more likely it's actually saving them money on bandwidth and processing costs...

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Virtue signalling.

      reducing the bandwidth on an 110GB game FORCED WINDOWS UPDATE downloads will help

      Now that I think about it, 110GB game images and kid/pet/selfy videos probably NOT the cause of any REAL bandwidth shortages... [and that could make what youtube as done a reaction to a problem NOT caused by them]

  4. Andy Non Silver badge

    YouTube is often un-watchable anyway on my TV

    YouTube has been very poor quality on my TV (via the Humax box) for months. The resolution often looks more suitable for a tiny phone sized screen than a TV screen. We've got high speed internet and the Humax box is connected directly to the router. iPlayer and the ITV hub all play fine in high resolution. It's just YouTube, the video quality is usually so poor I can't watch it; subtitles and scrolling text are totally illegible. So if YouTube are going to degrade the quality further...

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: YouTube is often un-watchable anyway on my TV

      It's just YouTube, the video quality is usually so poor I can't watch it; subtitles and scrolling text are totally illegible.

      Reading YT's autogenerated subtitles can sometimes be the best thing about watching videos. Luckily my hearing isn't yet bad enough to have to rely on them, otherwise many things would be lost in translation.

      But something to add to my list of things to gen up on during our splendid isolation. I thought modern video formats had subtitling data embedded, ie as text/hypertext so it's generated locally & overlayed rather than being part of the video, and thus prone to any compression artefacts.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: YouTube is often un-watchable anyway on my TV

      I've been using things like youtube-dl for a long time (rarely though, youtube is a time eating monster). When I download first, I get the best resolution possible and just wait for it to finish downloading before watching. [and I can keep it locally if I like it]

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: YouTube is often un-watchable anyway on my TV

        The advantage to youtube-dl is that xine doesn't care if you pause for 12 hours while you take care of life, unlike the online player. Fast-forward and reverse also work, again unlike the online player. Plus, what are ads, again?

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    It would perhaps be interesting

    To see what Porhbub's usage statistics look like in the last couple of weeks...

    Obvs. -->

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Crystal balls

    If the video quality here is anything to go by, YouTube has known about the corona epidemic since the end of last summer.

    That's when video qualtiy began to drop acrossthe board, I usually leave the quality setting on auto and ove a period of about a week everything had dropped at least one level.

    My bandwidth hadn't changed so I assumed YouTube had.

    I wonder how they knew this was coming?

  7. phuzz Silver badge

    I've not noticed that here.

    Nope, just checked, Youtube is still defaulting to 1080 for me (in the UK).

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      I have an ancient extension that makes Firefox choose the highest possible quality offered.

      But am willing not to watch youtubes until the siren goes.


  8. stiine Silver badge

    YouTube - video resolution vs AD resolution

    When I want to just listen to a video on YouTube, I manually set it to 144p, and when I full-screen the window, I CAN TELL that its 144p..until the ad rolls, and the ad rolls at 1080p. Of course, I also only skip the ads of companies that I would actually purchase from, while muting the computer for the rest...

  9. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

    Bread and Games...

    Streaming video already made up 60% of internet traffic before the pandamic, although this doesn't necessarily mean the capacity is now in jeopardy. On a side note, you never hear the environmentalists bring up the additional burden streaming video and social media pose on our beloved planet. Maybe because it would cause people to riot against the cause?

    The Romans already knew that the people would be manageable if you offered them Bread and Games...

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