Soon, YouTube viewers might have a better idea why their videos take so long to load. Google will launch its Video Quality Report next week, a service which will rank internet service providers based on the quality of YouTube video playback. It will first be available for Canadian users, but reports for other areas including the US are expected to be available in the near future.
The company will rank ISPs by how well they stream HD video content. A "YouTube HD Verified" ranking is the best, meaning an ISP delivers HD videos with quick load times 90 percent of the time. A "Standard Definition" ranking means the ISP delivers videos in at least 360p with decent load times, and "Lower Definition" is reserved for the ISPs that deliver videos in resolutions lower than 360p with slow loading times and a lot of buffering.
"YouTube HD Verified" will be the highest ISP ranking
As Google explains, there are a few factors that contribute to video quality, including the number of copies of a video in Google servers, an ISP's capacity to receive YouTube content as well as its network in a specific area, and an individual's Wi-Fi setup. Slow streaming of online video content is something people complain about constantly, and YouTube has never been immune to that. This seems to be Google's way of giving viewers some information as to why videos stream differently in various areas.
Google isn't the first company to rank ISP providers against each other: Netflix released its own monthly ISP rating system in 2012. It's unclear how often Google will update its rankings, but it will be the first regular indication of how well different ISPs deliver YouTube content across the globe. With 6 billion hours of YouTube watched each month, it's a service that consumers will probably find useful, but should be wary about using as an ISP buying guide.