YouTube Takes Cue from Netflix, Blames ISPs for Slow Video

YouTube recently started pointing at Internet service providers when it comes to problems with video playback. When a YouTube video experiences buffer or playback issues, a message that reads “Experiencing interruptions?” now appears under the video. Clicking “Find out why” takes users to a new Google page that lists video playback quality for ISPs of different countries. Last month, Netflix posted alerts blaming a crowded Verizon network when customers experienced grainy video.

After Verizon threatened legal action, Netflix stopped posting the alerts, but still defended its actions.

“Google, which owns YouTube, has a strong interest in deflecting blame for poor video quality,” reports Quartz. “The U.S. government is considering new ‘net neutrality’ regulations that could affect how information, particularly data-heavy streaming video, flows through the Internet. ISPs would like to see more of the responsibility placed on video services like YouTube and Netflix, which account for a growing portion of Internet traffic.”


Google is among the companies that believe ISPs should be responsible for delivering high-quality video streams. The providers, however, argue that the video services should be responsible for seeking “less congested routes for their data, including direct connections that ISPs charge money to set up,” notes the article. “Video companies have derided those ‘fast lanes’ even as they sometimes pay for them to improve quality of service.”

Interestingly, Google and other tech companies have been surprisingly quiet as the FCC gets closer to allowing fast lanes.

“Rather than intensely lobbying the government this time around, Google and Netflix seem to be focused on a public relations campaign,” Quartz points out. “Both now regularly report how well their services work on a wide range of Internet providers. Netflix’s ISP Index covers 20 countries; Google’s Video Quality Report is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Google has also started labeling some ISPs as ‘YouTube HD Verified,’ a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal for streaming video.”