YouTube Will Temporarily Limit Video Streaming Quality Worldwide Starting Today

YouTube will begin reducing the quality of its videos for users around the world starting today. With a growing percentage of people staying at home for the next few weeks and months, YouTube hopes this new streaming quality limit will keep the video sharing website running smoothly amid the increased traffic (via Bloomberg).


This change began in Europe last week, and will hit worldwide over the coming days. YouTube videos will default to standard definition, and if users want to watch in high definition, they will have to choose to do so from the settings menu on a video.
YouTube already limits the quality of video based on the strength of a user’s internet connection. YouTube doesn’t believe the world will run out of internet bandwidth any time soon, but is taking a preemptive measure given growing concerns at the government level.

“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” Google said in a statement.
Many streaming companies are taking similar precautions, with Netflix cutting streaming data bitrates last week, and Apple TV+ lowering streaming quality in Europe. Most of these changes began in Europe after the European Union asked these companies to temporarily reduce streaming quality to ease the strain on broadband networks, and now we're seeing similar policies spread to the United States and other countries.
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YouTube to Follow Netflix’s Lead and Reduce Stream Quality in Europe to Ease Strain on Broadband Networks

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, YouTube is reducing the quality of its videos in Europe to reduce the strain on broadband networks caused by an upsurge in home usage following the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.
"We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default," the company said in a statement.

Standard definition videos are more pixellated and not as sharp as high definition videos, but require less data transmission as a result.

The decision follows news on Thursday that Netflix will comply with a request from the European Union to lower its streaming video quality in Europe to ease network strain from the millions of people working from home. Netflix said it would reduce the bitrate of its streams for 30 days.

Internet traffic has increased with more adults switching to remote working to comply with social distancing measures. With schools closing in many countries, working adults also face the prospect of having to compete for bandwidth with children playing games and watching videos or logging in to e-learning sessions. The launch of Disney+ in Europe next Tuesday, which will offer 4K-resolution content, is unlikely to help matters.

U.K. internet service provider BT told BBC News that its broadband infrastructure has plenty of "headroom" to cope with increased demand as more people stay home due to coronavirus. The company said that since Tuesday, daytime traffic on its network had increased by between 35-60 percent, daytime and evening usage was still much lower than the highest levels it had ever recorded. "The additional load... is well within manageable limits and we have plenty of headroom for it to grow still further," said a BT spokesperson.

Vodafone and TalkTalk, which also provide mobile and broadband services to UK households, gave similar assurances to the BBC despite also seeing increases in web traffic. However, on Tuesday, all U.K. mobile networks suffered severe outages after the number of voice calls rose by 30 per cent and overloaded the system, leaving hundreds of thousands of customers unable to connect calls to people on other mobile networks.

Like Netflix, YouTube has not said whether the bitrate reduction will be implemented in other countries like the United States, but it does not appear that U.S. internet providers have called for such measures at this time.
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YouTube Rolls Out New ‘Explore’ Tab to All Users on Mobile

Google is rolling out a new "Explore" tab in its official YouTube mobile app after several months of experiments and testing.


The new tab replaces the "Trending" tab, and includes the same trending content but also links to destination pages of YouTube's existing video categories, including Gaming, Music, News, and more. As Google explains:
With Explore, you not only have access to Trending videos, but also to destination pages for some popular content categories like Gaming, Music, Fashion & Beauty, Learning and more – all from one place.
Below the category links is a carousel of videos from the latest "Creator on the Rise" or "Artist on the Rise." The carousel is updated daily, providing additional exposure for the platform's content creators.

Below that is the typical scrolling vertical list of trending videos, which can also be accessed from the top of the page using the Trending button, which is foremost in the new links. According to Google, Trending displays the same list of trending videos to all users, wherever they are in the world.

As it stands, there's no way to create custom destination pages or personalized category links, and the list of pre-made categories isn't particularly comprehensive, so hopefully that's something Google plans to add in time.

YouTube is a free download for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]
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YouTube TV Ending Support for App Store Subscriptions in March

YouTube today sent out emails to customers who are subscribed to its YouTube TV service through Apple's App Store, letting them know that ‌App Store‌ subscriptions are going to be discontinued in March.


From the emails:
You're currently subscribed to YouTube TV through Apple in-app purchases, so we're writing to let you know that, starting March 13, 2020, YouTube TV will no longer accept payment through Apple in-app purchases.

YouTube TV members will still be able to watch YouTube TV content on Apple devices.

You'll be billed for one final month of service and then your in-app purchase subscription will be canceled automatically on your billing date after March, 13, 2020.
There's no word on why YouTube is ending YouTube TV subscriptions through the ‌App Store‌, but Apple does take a cut of all subscription purchases, so avoiding in-app purchases will allow YouTube to skirt that fee.

When it comes to subscriptions, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of the subscription price paid by each subscriber for the first 12 months, and then if a subscriber remains subscribed, Apple's cut drops to 15 percent.

The YouTube TV app will need to remove all references to subscribing and signing up from its app when in-app purchases disappear, as Apple does not allow apps to link out to third-party subscription purchase options.

Apps that offer subscriptions on Apple's platform have complained about Apple's cut for years. Some apps raise their subscription prices through the ‌App Store‌ to compensate for the fee, while others choose not to offer subscriptions in Apple's apps.

YouTube TV users will be able to continue using the YouTube TV app on Apple's platforms, but will need to sign up for a subscription on the website.

(Thanks, Kyle!)


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YouTube Working on Apple TV Channels-Like Feature for Third-Party Video Subscriptions

YouTube is considering offering a feature that would let people sign up for subscription services from third-party entertainment companies through YouTube, reports The Information.

Such a feature would be similar to Apple TV Channels and the Amazon Channels option from Amazon, both of which allow users to sign up for paid video services through their Apple ID and Amazon accounts, respectively.


Apple in March 2019 unveiled a revamped Apple TV app with the ‌Apple TV‌ Channels option, which lets ‌Apple TV‌ owners sign up for services like CBS All Access, Starz, Showtime, Comedy Central Now, HBO, and more right in the TV app without having to open up another app. Amazon has offered a similar feature since 2015.


YouTube is said to be in talks with "several entertainment companies" about adding their services to YouTube, but the status of the talks is unknown at this time.

A subscription channel offering would add value to YouTube TV, YouTube's current streaming television service. YouTube TV, priced at $50 per month, offers live and on-demand cable access and has attracted two million subscribers.

It's unclear if the new subscription channel offering would be linked to YouTube TV specifically or would be a separate endeavor available to a broader range of YouTube users.

According to The Information, offering stand-alone subscriptions could help YouTube improve profit margins on YouTube TV as it would get a cut of sales on its platform. Apple and Amazon, for example, take a cut of 30 to 50 percent of subscription fees from their channel partners, a lucrative addition to their own streaming services.


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YouTube iOS App Gains ‘Topics’ to Filter Your Subscriptions Feed

Google has updated its official YouTube iOS app with Subscription feed "topics" in an effort to make it easier for users to catch up with their favorite creators.


The topics appear below the top row of followed channels and essentially act as filters for content that you subscribe to.

The default setting is "All," which lists all videos from channels you're subscribed to, from newest to oldest. Then there's "Today," showing all the videos published within the past 24 hours.

The other topics include "Continue Watching" (videos you started watching but haven't finished yet), "Unwatched" videos, "Live" videos (includes livestreams as well as YouTube Premieres), and "Posts," which shows only community posts.

Google says that tests showed that these topics encouraged more subscribers to come to their subs feed daily to look for new updates. That said, there's no requirement to use them, and user feeds will continue to show in reverse chronological order in the traditional way if the topics buttons are left untouched.

YouTube is a free download for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

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How to Use the YouTube App’s New Voice Search Feature When Casting to a Smart TV

The official YouTube app for iOS has gained a new voice search feature that aims to make searching for content easier when you're casting YouTube video to a smart TV.


Once you've connected your iPhone or iPad to a smart TV, you can search with your voice via the mobile app, as well as use it to pause, play, and adjust the volume on your TV. Here's how it works.

  1. Download and launch the YouTube app on your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌.

  2. Tap the Cast button at the top of the Home tab.

  3. Launch the YouTube app on your smart TV.

  4. If you haven't connected your iOS device to your smart TV before, select Link with TV code and then tap LEARN NOW under "Learn how to get a TV code." Otherwise, tap YouTube on TV to connect.
    youtube
  5. When your iOS device is connected to your TV, you'll see an overlay on your device's screen with a volume slider, a Remote button, and the new Voice search button – tap it.

  6. Tap the red microphone icon, and when you hear the audible prompt, say the word or phrase that you want to search on YouTube.
    youtube
You should see the results of your voice search appear on your TV. And don't forget, you can use the Remote option in the YouTube app's mobile interface to navigate and select the content that shows up on your TV.

According to German site SmartDroid, YouTube is currently working on improving the remote interface for controlling YouTube casting. The updated controls are said to include quicker access to captions and playback quality settings, but there's no word on when we can expect them to roll out for the iOS YouTube app.

Tags: YouTube, TV

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Apple to Live Stream September 10 Event on YouTube

For the first time, Apple will live stream its Tuesday, September 10 event on YouTube, Apple announced today using a placeholder video uploaded to the site.

Apple is allowing YouTube users to set a reminder to get a notification when the event begins. It is set to kick off at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on September 10.

Cupertino calling. Join us for an Apple special event live from the Steve Jobs Theater on September 10 at 10 a.m. PDT. Set a reminder and we'll send an update before the show.
Apple usually uploads its events to YouTube a few days after they happen, but has not used YouTube to live stream an event before. Making the live stream available on YouTube will provide access to the event on consoles, computers, smartphones, and other devices.

The event will also be live streamed through the Events app on the Apple TV and it will be available on Apple's Events website.

Apple is expected to unveil new iPhones, new Apple Watch models, and perhaps other hardware, with a full rundown of what's coming available in our What to Expect article.

For those who are unable to watch the live stream on the Apple TV, Apple's website, or on YouTube, MacRumors will be providing live coverage here on MacRumors.com and on our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.

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YouTube Adds ‘Don’t Recommend Channel’ and New Explore Tools for Finding Content

Google today announced several new features coming to YouTube, all of which are designed to give users more control over the kind of content that appears on the Homepage and in Up Next video suggestions.

For removing video suggestions from channels users are uninterested in, there's a new YouTube option called "Don't recommend channel." It's accessible by tapping on the three-dot menu next to a video on the homepage or Up Next. After tapping it, users will no longer see videos from the channel as suggested content.


The "Don't recommend channel" option will be available on mobile devices first before expanding to the desktop.

Along with an option to stop a channel from being recommended, YouTube is adding more detail on why certain videos have been recommended. There's a small box underneath recommended videos that lets YouTube users know why a video has been surfaced. The feature is available for iOS users today and will be coming to Android and desktop in the future.


YouTube is also gaining new tools to make it easier to explore topics and related videos, such as baking videos, or a favorite music genre. Options presented to YouTube users are based on existing personalized suggestions and can be found on the homepage when scrolling up or on Up Next when browsing. This feature is available for Android users currently and will be expanding to iOS and desktop in the future.


All of the new features are rolling out starting today, but could take some time to expand to all users.

Tag: YouTube

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YouTube Switches to Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Strategy for Original TV Shows

YouTube on Thursday announced a new original TV content strategy that will see the Google-owned video hub make new programs available to users on a free, ad-supported basis (via Deadline).


Nine new programs will be made available on YouTube this year, with a mix of original content, including a documentary about sports tricks outfit Dude Perfect, and an interactive series featuring YouTube star Mark Fischbach that allows viewers to control the storyline.

Other programs include a third season of the Karate Kid-inspired Cobra Kai, an investigation show from media startup Vox, and a set of standalone films from "The School of Life" YouTube channel, which "explores some of the greatest philosophical questions of our age," according to YouTube.

The development represents a shift in strategy since the arrival of YouTube Premium in May 2018 (previously YouTube Red), which offered ad-free viewing and other benefits, including original programming offered behind a $12-a-month paywall. The latter perk apparently hasn't been as popular as YouTube was hoping, so the new direction is about making original content available to as many users as possible on an ad-supported basis.
"For today's viewers, primetime is personal and our content resonates so strongly due to the diversity and richness of our unmatched library and platform capabilities," Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl said in the official announcement. "While every other media company is building a paywall, we are headed in the opposite direction and now have more opportunities than ever to partner with advertisers and share our critically-acclaimed originals with our global audience."
Another reason for the shift is Google's recognition of the growth in viewing YouTube in the living room, where about 250 million hours of YouTube fare are watched every day, on average, according to the company.

YouTube will continue to test original content benefits for subscribers. For example, all episodes from the third season of Cobra Kai will be available to subscribers in one block, while non-subscribers will gain access to one new episode per week. New episodes of some existing programs are also likely to remain subscriber-only because of contractual commitments, YouTube said.

Tag: YouTube

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