Google is now gently suggesting who users should blame when YouTube videos fail to stream smoothly. A new pop-up bar that reads "Experiencing interruptions? Find out why" is now showing under some YouTube videos when playback gets choppy. Clicking on the bar takes users to Google's relatively new Video Quality Report page, which provides information on internet service providers, including details on video streaming performance. The page also offers a comparison between other ISPs in your area, and it ranks providers as either "HD Verified," "Standard Definition," or "Lower Definition" based on the average performance they achieve on YouTube. Quartz first reported on the new notice featured underneath YouTube videos.
The move is similar to a high-profile "test" by Netflix last month that blamed ISPs for poor performance when video streams cut out. Verizon — one of two ISPs that have engaged in a war of words with Netflix over who's responsible for maintaining network performance — didn't take kindly to the notice, and fired off a cease and desist letter. Netflix later ended the "test."
On Google's help page, it explains that "you may be prompted to view the report if you’re experiencing poor playback on your computer (such as frequent rebuffering or fuzzy video)." Like Netflix, Google is a key player in the debate over the future of net neutrality. Providers like Verizon and Comcast have successfully sought to make bandwidth-heavy companies like Netflix pay fees to ensure quality service, while others argue that all should be entitled to the same level of service without ISPs extracting a toll.