Facebook, Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+ are among the group of streaming services and social media outlets making changes to video quality to be able to support more viewers. The large demand is coming from the net strain from the majority of people in quarantine and self-isolation in their homes across multiple countries. Personally, I know that I have watched more Netflix and Hulu in the last two weeks than I have in the last six months. So, I’m sure many people are using this time to binge the shows that they have been waiting for the right time to watch, or having movie nights with their family because everyone is home.
The interesting thing about these services and sites making these announcements is that it means almost nothing to the viewer. Lowering video quality could sound like a big deal, but most are lowering bitrate, which is the amount of data streamed per second. This means that the change in bitrates will make it so each video uses less data, but viewers are unlikely to see a major change in picture quality, but will be using 25% less data. Another thing that sites like Youtube are implementing is making users default quality 480p, but if they notice a difference in quality they have the power to change it. It is little changes like this that will allow everyone to keep using all the services they want at all times.