YouTube Joins Netflix, Ranks ISPs

Is your Internet service provider "YouTube HD Verified"?

Like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) before it, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is now ranking ISPs on their ability to deliver high-quality video streams. As first reported by Quartz, the YouTube parent company has created a Video Quality Report. If a user starts to experience poor video playback, Google pops up an alert prompting the viewer to "find out why." The link in the alert leads to a page with localized video streaming quality results. ISPs are listed as HD Verified, or sufficient for Standard Definition or Lower Definition streaming.

The Google approach is more benign than Netflix's recent attempt to blame ISPs directly for poor video quality, a practice that drew the legal ire of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Netflix has since stopped naming ISPs as the cause of video problems, but it still maintains the Netflix ISP Speed Index. (See Verizon Threatens to Sue Netflix and Netflix Hearts Google Fiber.)

In Google's case, the company emphasizes "there are many factors that influence your video streaming quality, including your choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP)." Google goes on to say that it does its part to improve video quality by using adaptive bit rate streaming, caching strategies, interconnection agreements, and compression technologies. However, Google continues, ISPs must also ensure quality streaming when they carry YouTube video across their networks to users' homes. The company acknowledges that video quality can also be affected by a user's specific broadband connection and in-home WiFi conditions.

In the Video Quality Report, Google certifies that ratings represent "the video streaming quality you can expect (at least 90% of the time) when you watch YouTube on an Internet Service Provider in a specific area."

Although Google makes an effort explain the numerous factors that contribute to online video quality, the new YouTube rankings are a way to shine a spotlight directly on ISPs for the role they play in over-the-top video delivery. The move suggests a growing tension between content providers and ISPs, and likely signals new net neutrality fights on the horizon.

There is already discussion about whether content providers should pay ISPs for better last-mile video delivery. Known as "paid prioritization" or Internet "fast lanes," the pay-to-play approach is currently under scrutiny by the FCC. (See FCC's 'Middle Ground' Already Under Attack and Comcast's Cohen: Define Internet Fast Lanes.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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mendyk 7/10/2014 | 6:03:36 PM
Re: how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? Yeah, it takes a long time to realize that, in most cases, the definitive answer is "there is no definitive answer." We want to live in a black-and-white world, but just about everything exists in various shades of gray. That's what ultimately keeps things interesting.
brookseven 7/10/2014 | 5:36:52 PM
Re: how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? Dennis,


Sheesh Man....






There is your definitive answer!



mendyk 7/10/2014 | 4:53:49 PM
Re: how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? There's no definitive answer here. If you look back at ths thread and others like it, you'll see any number of factors that influence service quality. That's why pinning the rap on a single element is simplistic and most likely wrong. That doesn't mean ISPs are not part of the problem, or maybe even a big part. It just means the entire service delivery ecosystem needs to be considered.
mhhf1ve 7/10/2014 | 4:31:23 PM
Re: how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? Well, how much blame should ISPs accept for laggy video? Sure, some blame lies in YouTube or Netflix servers, but the ISPs do have some hand in delivering the content.
mendyk 7/10/2014 | 9:09:03 AM
Re: how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? Non-geeks are probably the target audience for these messages, as in, "YouTube doesn't suck, it's your broadband company that sucks." They can't actually say that without incurring some legal wrath (as with Netflix and Verizon), but they can insinuate it in carefully worded fashion. It's something that's totally consistent with the current business environment -- deflect blame and focus on PR rather than actually solving your customers' problems. Not that lower-quality cat videos are that big a deal.
mhhf1ve 7/9/2014 | 9:47:42 PM
how does Youtube rank Google Fiber? I've seen this little notification on my youtube videos.. and when I dig a little deeper, all I get is a few graphs that say when internet traffic is high per each ISP in my area -- it's not exactly a ranking. These graphs aren't really that informative, and the classification of various available ISPs in my neighborhood is generally what I expected (although I thought AT&T Uverse in my zipcode would be HD verified and it's not).

But ultimately, does any non-geek really care about this info? There's not much a user can do with it, and switching ISPs isn't guaranteed to eliminate video buffering for Youtube....
Mitch Wagner 7/9/2014 | 6:52:40 PM
Re: The important stuff Only if they're grumpy. 
mendyk 7/9/2014 | 8:42:41 AM
Re: The important stuff You need to read the papers. Ugly cats are worth a lot of money.
Mitch Wagner 7/8/2014 | 7:57:28 PM
Re: The important stuff mendyk - "Will this make cat videos look better?"

Not if your cat is ugly. 
Cable Bigot 7/7/2014 | 5:27:25 PM
Re: The important stuff Uhh, NO. Cable companies pay content providers for the content, Disney being the largest recipient of that money (Disney, ESPN, and ABC all represent $ to Disney). Even over-the-air content collects money from the cable companies and is why there was the lawsuit over what Aireo was offering.

So that Netflix and YouTube provide content to broadband providers without the broadband providers having to pay a dime for the content seems like a win for the broadband provider. Oh wait, if you can get the content from any broadband provider and have choice, then you may leave the provider if the service is bad. But so much for choice, most broadband providers have a monopoly on service granted by the local municipality (at least in the US with the old cable TV franchise system).
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