YouTube fails to clarify whether reduced streaming quality will hit live events

Businesses may want to reconsider using YouTube Live for streaming conferences

YouTube is yet to say whether the imposed low streaming quality across Europe will also carry over to its Live service, something which many businesses may come to rely on during increased demand for virtual conferencing.

The company announced today that it will lower the standard of its streaming quality in the UK and EU in order to prevent a much-feared internet-speed bottleneck, as thousands are confined to their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, when we asked whether the decision also applies to YouTube Live, parent company Google failed to provide an answer. 

“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity,” said a spokesperson for the Google. “Following the meeting between Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, and Commissioner Breton we are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition. We will continue working with member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”

YouTube Live seemed like a viable option for many companies looking to stream conferences and events that otherwise face cancellation or postponement, given that governments across the globe continue to advise against mass public gatherings.

The company added that the reduced quality of streaming in the EU and UK would last for around a month and was an action taken in cooperation with governments.

Europen commissioner for internal market and services Thierry Breton praised Pichai and Wojcicki for the move:

“Millions of Europeans are adapting to social distancing measures thanks to digital platforms, helping them to telework, e-learn and entertain themselves,” he said. “I warmly welcome the initiative that Google has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the COVID19 crisis by having YouTube switch all EU traffic to Standard Definition by default.

"I appreciate the strong responsibility that Mr Pichai and Mrs Wojcicki have demonstrated. We will closely follow the evolution of the situation together.”

YouTube is the second streaming service to announce that they are reducing their streaming quality due to the coronavirus outbreak, following Netflix’s decision on Thursday.

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