YouTube Surveying Streaming Quality

Running the world's largest video-sharing site isn't easy, and if you've ever tried to watch a video, only to be greeted with that tantalizing "buffering" icon, then you've experienced that first hand. Now, YouTube's taking another big step towards improving the quality of their streams. The Google Video Quality Report is set to help fill that role.

The system tests your connection and playback speed against a few different standards: HD verified, which is a solid 720p feed; and Standard Definition, which runs at 360p and Lower Definition, or 240p. YouTube is aware of the potential privacy concerns of a system like this and announced in a blog post that their data was "completely anonymized" and that "ratings are centered around networks, not users."

Google is hoping to quickly expand the program to help more folks watching videos in "glorious HD" as soon as possible. You can try the report out for yourself here, and also pick up a few tips for improving your score.

One of the more interesting bits of the report is that it can also provide you in-depth information about when videos are most widely viewed (9pm or so here in Minneapolis), and even comes with a tool to help select better Internet providers in your area should you need a bit of a boost. You can also read up on how YouTube actually breaks its videos down and what it does to try to minimize the amount of time you actually spend buffering videos, though besides some neat web graphics, there's nothing too revelatory there.

While all of this may be interesting for the data-obsessed, it's also a bit predictable. Google is a company that desperately needs the Internet to work as well as possible for as many people as possible, which is one of the many reasons Google fiber makes a lot of sense from their perspective. This is just one more example of that dedication to making sure their users are using the best network possible so they can serve up videos (and by extension ads) in glorious High Definition. God help us all when 4K becomes commonplace, though. 

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  • nthreem
    Does Youtube also prioritize their stream bandwidth based on video popularity? I don't know if it's a coincidence, but when I've been stricken with the forever "buffering" issues, it seems to occur with low view-rate videos.

    But if I play a popular video, I don't have any buffering issues even when watching in HD.
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  • DookieDraws
    I used to have (recently) issues with youtube constantly buffering, even with my fast speed of 35Mbps internet, until I installed AdBlock for my browser. I know AdBlock is to specifically block ads, so I am unsure what has happened, but I can now watch ANY video on youtube without any buffering issues at all. When I click play, the video immediately starts playing. Fyi, I use Opera web browser for my internet ramblings. Try my setup and see if this helps you, too.

    Good luck! :)
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  • SinxarKnights
    Quote:
    Does Youtube also prioritize their stream bandwidth based on video popularity? I don't know if it's a coincidence, but when I've been stricken with the forever "buffering" issues, it seems to occur with low view-rate videos.

    But if I play a popular video, I don't have any buffering issues even when watching in HD.


    That seems to be the case and has been for quite some time now. It may be how their network is set up. A while back I (and a lot of other people) where having issues with videos not buffering properly. It would play a bit then stop, play... stop. I did some research on the issue and it only affected low view videos. Anything on popular channels played just fine.

    My theory is that it is divided up with the low subscription channels hosted on a cheaper/slower network while the big channels get to live on the main servers. It would make sense but I don't work there so its all just speculation.
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