Did YouTube Reduce Video Quality?

YouTube is one of the most popular video-sharing platforms that has revolutionized the way we consume digital content. It has over two billion monthly active users who watch over a billion hours of videos every day.

However, in March 2020, YouTube announced that it would reduce its video quality to cope with increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This action left many users wondering if their video quality had indeed been reduced and how it would affect their viewing experience.

What prompted YouTube to reduce its video quality?
According to YouTube, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant surge in online traffic as people started working from home and relying on online entertainment for leisure activities. This increase in demand put a strain on internet infrastructure globally, causing network congestion and slower speeds. To ease this burden, YouTube decided to reduce its video quality temporarily.

What does reduced video quality mean?
Reduced video quality means that videos on YouTube will be streamed at lower resolutions than usual. The standard resolution for most videos on YouTube is 1080p or higher, but during this period, they will be streamed at 480p or even lower.

How does this affect your viewing experience on YouTube?
The reduction in video quality may result in pixelated images and blurred details when watching videos on larger screens. However, if you’re watching videos on smaller screens such as mobile devices or laptops, you may not notice a significant difference in quality.

Can you still watch videos at higher resolutions?
Yes, you can still watch videos at higher resolutions if they are available. Some creators may choose to upload their videos at higher resolutions despite the temporary reduction in overall streaming quality.

Steps to change your streaming quality

If you want to change your streaming quality manually while watching a video on YouTube, follow these simple steps:

  • Click on the ‘Settings’ icon in the bottom right corner of the video player.
  • Select ‘Quality’ from the menu that appears.
  • Select a resolution that suits your preference from the list of available options.


In conclusion, YouTube’s decision to reduce video quality was a necessary step to ease network congestion and ensure smooth streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this may affect your viewing experience on larger screens, it is a temporary measure that will be reversed once internet traffic normalizes. In the meantime, you can still enjoy your favorite videos on YouTube at lower resolutions or opt for videos uploaded at higher resolutions.