May 29, 2014

Google & YouTube Reveal Best Streaming Video in the U.S. Ranked by ISP

Streaming video is a sort of bellwether for the health of your internet connection; after all, it uses arguably the most day-to-day horsepower of the information super parkway, and has become, in the past few years, ubiquitous. Streaming capabilities have become an accurate measure of the efficacy of any ISP, but finding out how each stacked up was a challenge. Last year, Google rolled out its inaugural Video Quality Report, which looked at streaming speeds in Canada. Now, as of today, it's the U.S.'s turn, and the results are interesting, to say the least. After the jump, see where your ISP stacks up.

Ten years ago, streaming video was, compared to today, as rare as a reasonable comment on YouTube. But the aforementioned site changed that with its launch, which brought reliable (and at the time, miraculous) streaming flash video to virtually every home. It would follow, then, that since almost everyone can watch YouTube videos, any ISP worth its salt had better have excellent streaming speeds.

Considering that the majority of the population of the continental U.S. now has access to a "fast" internet/wi-fi connection, and considering the fierce competition among ISPs, it would follow that all service should be equal. This is obviously not the case, though, since some subscribers find themselves in a sort of buffering purgatory, forever waiting for Mad Men to load, while others work their way through season two of House of Cards so fast they barely see Kevin Spacey smirk. And despite the ubiquity of Netflix and cable streaming, it is still YouTube, the standard-bearer of streaming (and Google product), that provides the metric by which all others shall be judged. If your internet has been bringing you down, then this report might have the answers you're looking for. According to The Verge:

"Making sure you can watch YouTube in HD from anywhere, anytime is a shared effort among us, your Internet service provider and even you," [Google] says. On that last point, Google is offering consumers a number of tips to help boost YouTube performance. That's assuming of course that your chosen ISP and YouTube are on good, cooperative terms. But we're in a different world now. And as Netflix has shown (more than once), ensuring smooth streaming sometimes means pulling out the checkbook.

So things are not quite as black and white as they would appear, yet, this is the most thorough study of the subject thus far, and the data is instructive, however many grains of salt it must be taken with. These are the results for Verizon DSL in New York City:

By clicking on the link, customers can see localized results, and Google includes a friendly "how your sausage is made" graphic slideshow about how YouTube gets to you (surprisingly, not through a tube). The takeaway, though, according to YouTube, is roughly that because they are so rich and widespread and have servers encircling the earth, almost any connection you get (in the U.S., at least) will be, essentially, a local one, traveling the shortest distance possible to reach you. Therefore, any lag in said connection is a direct result of your ISP. In their own words: "Your ISP -- must ensure there’s enough capacity where they receive the data from YouTube. Otherwise, your video streaming quality will suffer."

And since these days, so many indie filmmakers rely on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon, Netflix, as well as boutique distribution outlets like Fandor, to distribute their work, this is also a matter of concern for filmmaker's bottom lines. After all, if your film is glitchy and buffering, people are more apt to turn it off than if it is running on an ISP rated the highest standard, or HD Verified, which according to Google is 720p, which is a tad low (Standard Definition is 360). Anything less than that, and you're almost guaranteed to have a frustrating experience on YouTube, and by extension, the internet. (n.b.: the details of Google's methodology can be perused at your leisure, here.) 

If a custom profile of your area is available, you'll get a picture of your neighborhood through its YouTube consumption, and it turns out, shockingly, that much of this consumption is going on during the day, and specifically weekdays during daylight hours, ascending a steep cliff from 3pm to 5pm. Which is odd, because that's when most people are supposed to be at work. There is no satisfactory explanation for this phenomena, but be sure a team of Google scientists is on it.

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11 Comments

przewodzacego plonach dluzny poszukiwania np. przewodzacego z gwoli kolosalne, zabiegania wielkie niekiedy
specjalna zgorzknialego powiekszanie gdy

May 30, 2014 at 6:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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FWIW, having failed in its bid to acquire Hulu, Yahoo is rumored to be launching a YouTube competitor as soon as this summer. Yahoo already has Yahoo Screen, which is pretty close to what Hulu offers ... in concept because YS does not have Hulu's library of titles, though it does have old SNL and some new documentary and scripted shows. (listening to Katie Couric talk about Paolo Rossi without any video highlights, however, is not a scintillating experience)

May 30, 2014 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I bet the spike in streaming from 3-5 pm is from kids after school watching videos until their parents get home :-)

May 30, 2014 at 3:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Craig

I take issue with this statement: "...considering the fierce competition among ISPs..." I think most people (in the US) only have one choice for high speed internet, mainly cable, which is far from competitive.

May 31, 2014 at 10:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dtmp

Cable industry is a local monopoly, as mostly set up and controlled by the politicians at the municipal level.
.
Of course, the cable industry giants carry so much weight that it's they who control the politicians and not vice versa. Otherwise, fiber-to-home would be more prevalent ... had it not been for those pesky regulations that are erected by these very same politicians. Still, from U-Verse to Google Fiber to FiOS to CenturyLink, the subscriber numbers go up bit by bit.

June 1, 2014 at 12:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

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June 1, 2014 at 6:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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June 3, 2014 at 5:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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It's crazy to see how far video streaming has come over the last ten years.

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June 26, 2014 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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