Not Just Netflix: YouTube Blaming ISPs For Slow Video Streams, Too

After Netflix posted a message on broken video streams stating that Verizon’s congested network was to blame, the former went ballistic, going as far as sending Netflix a cease and desist letter. The FCC has now stepped in to investigate (and possibly mediate) the spat. However, it’s not just Netflix that’s taking swipes at ISPs; YouTube is joining the fray.

Quartz spotted a new message on YouTube videos that are performing slowly. There’s a blue bar beneath the video that asks “Experiencing interruptions?” with a button you can click that says “Find Out Why”. The link takes you to Google’s new Video Quality Report website.  

YouTube quality
Credit: Quartz

In it, Google details how it gets video to you and puts a great deal of that responsibility on the shoulders of ISPs. In brief, Google says it goes something like this: Google picks the shortest and most direct route to pipe that video to your home via your ISP. The ISP ensures there’s enough capacity on its network to get you the video with sufficient streaming quality. When it gets to your front door (so to speak), Google is unequivocal. “In addition to congestion in your ISP’s network, your video performance can also be affected by the size of the ISP’s connection into your home, your wi-fi setup, and other in-home factors such as the number of connected devices,” says the site.

Google bottleneck

Google has set up a program where ISPs can become a YouTube HD Verified ISP, which means that the provider can get you at least a consistent stream at 720p HD without buffering or other interruptions.

streaming quality
Credit: Quartz

It appears the program is still rolling out--it wasn’t yet available in my area--but at some point, you’ll be able to compare the performance of various ISPs in your area with Google’s reports.

ISPs are no doubt fuming about this development, but with respect to Netflix, Google is a more formidable opponent.