YouTube videos will default to standard definition worldwide for the next month

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,186   +120
Staff member

YouTube starting today will stream videos at standard definition (480p) quality by default for users worldwide in an effort to ease Internet traffic according to a report from Bloomberg.

The move is an expansion of measures taken in Europe last week for the same reason. YouTube told the publication that users will still be able to watch content at a higher quality setting but they’ll have to manually choose to do so as clips will start out in SD quality by default.

To change the quality of a YouTube video, simply click the gear icon then select quality to choose from whichever options are available for the particular clip you are viewing.

According to a report last summer from networking equipment company Sandvine, Google was the top consumer of bandwidth on the Internet with 12 percent of all traffic volume. Netflix finished second at 11.44 percent followed by Facebook at 7.79 percent.

YouTube told Bloomberg that it will continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the world to do their part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented period.

YouTube is the only major streaming provider to implement such measures in the US although now that a precedent has been set, it is almost a guarantee that others will follow suit in the coming days.

Masthead credit:, graphic by Sandvine

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Posts: 2,647   +2,267
We are just lucky that Youtube hasn't tried to force Red on us by limiting playback to 1080p.

For the most part, it wouldn't hurt my viewing experience, but as a content creator, it would be quite disappointing.

They do allow you to upload 8K video - which I don't see the point of for the time being, but I'm surprised they don't limit the 4K and 8K video quality to partners, advertisers and channels bringing in huge revenue.

Uncle Al

Posts: 6,925   +5,212
1080p has been just fine for me but I imagine that some of it is the huge influx of users during the day right now on top of the regular after hours crowd .....


Posts: 15   +24
1080p has been just fine for me but I imagine that some of it is the huge influx of users during the day right now on top of the regular after hours crowd .....
Because every post you make is circa 1980. I've been on 4k since 2014. This is dissapointing.


Posts: 203   +224
"Youtube enhancer" add-on (for Firefox - not sure about other browsers) allows you to set a preferred resolution for playback default which overrides Youtubes settings. You're welcome.


Posts: 15   +24
The lesson here is that it does not always pay to be an early adopter.
Don't see how, I've had it for six years now and have enjoyed gaming on it for just as long. But you are right it doesn't always pay off, it just did for me.


Posts: 1,292   +513
I often just leave it on 360P anyway and only go to 480 or HD when I'm looking for more detail. Funny thing is, I have unlimited data. But I'm still stuck on old habits when I didn't.