Despite the vast majority of the world’s population being stuck inside with nothing to do but binge-watch for the foreseeable future, even streaming services are getting hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. YouTube is limiting the video quality of its video streams worldwide for the next month, while Netflix, Hulu, and Roku are all scaling back customer service support.
The New Standard on YouTube
Polygon reports that YouTube will default all video streams to standard definition for the next month. Users will still have the ability to watch videos in high-definition, but will have to adjust the quality manually.
Bloomberg initially reported this plan, citing a similar strategy that has been employed in Europe and will soon be rolled out worldwide. YouTube makes this move after global internet traffic spiked in the wake of the quarantines put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“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 to Polygon.
YouTube isn’t the only company that has been forced to take measures to meet the increased online demand. On Tuesday, Sony announced it would limit the speed of downloads to its PlayStation customers. And other streaming platforms have been affected on the offline side of things.
Customer Service on Hold
Netflix is suspending its phone customer support worldwide, only providing live chat and online support to its subscribers, according to Variety. The shift comes in response to a surge of support requests, which were proving difficult to fill since the customer-service agents are working from home. The company anticipates that the online-only support options will result in higher wait times than normal.
“The COVID-19 crisis has meant that thousands of our customer support agents are unable to work, or are now having to work from home,” Netflix says in a message on its website. “So our wait times are higher than normal. We’re working hard to provide the best support we can under the circumstances, and apologize for the delays you are experiencing.”
Netflix is also reducing its support hours, and they’re not alone. Streaming media player Roku and fellow streaming platform Hulu are both scaling back their customer support. Roku has shut down its phone support and is providing only email and online help-center support, according to its support site, while Hulu is no longer offering 24-hour phone support, operating between the hours of 4:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. PT daily. The Disney-owned streaming platform is still helping customers on its online Help Center and online chat support.
However, Hulu is allowing callers to schedule a callback time from a support rep, according to Variety. “We are experiencing unusually high call volume,” the recorded message on Hulu’s helpline says, per Variety.
Even the House of Mouse’s pride and glory, Disney+, is experiencing delays with customer service, with its help site reportedly displaying a message that says, “We are currently experiencing longer than normal wait times on our live chat, but an agent will assist you as soon as possible.” But subscribers can still call for phone support, according to the website.
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