YouTube Becoming Unusable During the Day

YouTube Becoming Unusable During the Day

If you’ve been noticing problems with using YouTube during the day over the past few months, it is not your imagination.  The online video streaming for user generated content has degraded significantly in recent months, to the point where even the lowest quality and lowest bandwidth 360P videos streams can’t be played without significant buffering and waiting.

The following graph (measured at 2PM on a Monday) shows the bandwidth being delivered from YouTube servers for a 480P video that requires 600-700 Kbps to play smoothly.

On average, YouTube delivered 47.5 Kilobyte/second or 380 Kbps.  That isn’t nearly enough to play a 480P video smoothly.  That’s barely enough for some of the lower quality 360P streams, much less 480P, 720P, or 1080P.  It’s great that Google has bumped up their bitrates for higher quality videos and goes as high as 6 Mbps for some 1080P streams, but it’s meaningless if Google can’t even deliver 360P streams reliably.

One might presume that my Internet Service Provider (ISP) is at fault for slowing YouTube at the peering points, but this isn’t the case given the fact that YouTube movie rentals (even the free ones) play just fine when measured on the same client computer and same time of day using the same broadband connection.  The following graph shows the bandwidth being delivered from YouTube for one of their free movies, the “Gridiron Gang“.

On average, YouTube delivered 495.2 Kbps, which allowed the video to stream smoothly without any delay from buffering.

It’s apparent that Google is prioritizing delivery for their new movie rental business over their ad-supported user generated content.  Even the featured videos from YouTube partners are suffering during the waking hours.  Of course, Google has the right to prioritize their businesses, but it does make their service less friendly to the original YouTube community.  For YouTube content generators like myself, I’m inclined to go back to competing video services like

  • […] [Cross-posted at High Tech Forum] […]

  • Steve

    I am not as tech savvy as the writer, but would your article also explain why previously uploaded videos that played at 720p and even 1080p with no problem now only provide the option for 480p? It’s rather disappointing. Thanks.

  • George Ou

    I have not run into the issue of 720P and 1080P videos being downgraded to 480P only. I am not saying this doesn’t happen, but I haven’t seen the issue.

    The only time I could see this happening is the content owner deciding to replace their 1080P version with 480P only. I would be shocked if Google unilaterally disabled 720P and 1080P content without the intent or permission of the owner of the video.

  • ilan daniel

    looks to me (I have no sprcific example to proof) that videos that were available in 480p are now vailable only in 360p.. am I the only one who notice that?

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