YouTube introduces ultra-low bandwidth 144p video quality mode

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 6, 2013
Music and Video, Youtube

YouTube videos are buffering all the time and you can only watch them a couple of seconds before they stop to buffer again? Or maybe the buffering takes ages and there is no apparent reason for that? This is usually the case when an Internet connection is not the most reliable one, or not fast at all but can also be because an Internet service provider is throttling the YouTube bandwidth artificially. Sometimes, it may also be because your ISP started to throttle your account, maybe because you passed a certain traffic threshold or because of other reasons.

YouTube introduced a new ultra-low bandwidth viewing option for select videos on the video hosting site. Up until now, videos were offered in qualities between 240p and 4k on the video hosting site with 320p being available on the site since the beginning.

If you have opened YouTube's video quality menu recently you may have spotted a new 144p video quality option there.

youtube 144p video quality

The new quality level is not available for all videos and it is unclear if it will be made available for all, or if Google uses an algorithm of sorts to determine when to make it available. It is for instance possible that it is only enabled on videos that are requested by mobile users or low bandwidth users a lot. There has not been an official announcement of the feature so this is all guesswork right now.

The quality is not that great as you can imagine and only suitable if you are watching the video on a small screen, if you are only interested in the audio, or if you want to view the video no matter what and can't get the other quality levels to play properly on the site.

It may be an option for the desktop as well because of this but make sure you play it in a player window that is appropriately sized as you will end up with an image quality level that is not the greatest. Still, the new option may be worth a shot for YouTube users who often experience playback issues on the site.


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  1. Rob S said on July 13, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that of lower bandwidth options out there like this. And I am amazed and some people’s lack of support for such “oh it is unusable”. Y’know, it absolutely is not unusable. That’s just more human selfishness speaking. Like Nadeem wrote “Watch 144p vids for a few days and then watch a 240p vid, it will look HD” — absolutely! You bet. It’s what you’re used to. Any movements to “unclog” the data lines out there by sending less data around to accomplish tasks is fantastic. Being “up-to-date” these days means wasting so much bandwidth unnecessarily it is unbelievable, “because we can”. Blah — GO LOW when you can!

  2. Jayanta said on August 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    240p is enough for watching for me.

  3. no one said on June 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    What YT shoul do if they are worried about bandwith for some people is to introduce… Only audio mode. It could work in some cases, with materials that people want mainly listen while doing somethinf else.

  4. Nadeem said on May 13, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Watch 144p vids for a few days and then watch a 240p vid, it will look HD

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 13, 2013 at 1:54 am

      That’s quite the funny observation. It is like fast forwarding from C-64 computer games to the Amiga age. Great jump even though both do not look up to date any more today.

  5. jesse said on April 10, 2013 at 3:45 am

    This is AMAZING!

    I live in china. It is the slowest connection. Youtube was essentially unwatchable….until now!!!

    God. Finally.

  6. Sleeping said on April 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Is the audio quality also affected by this change or just the video resolution?
    For example it can be useful when you’re listening to a song and you don’t care about the video :)

    1. TheDutchOwner said on April 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      No, the audio stays fine unlike 240p.

  7. Julia said on April 7, 2013 at 11:24 am
  8. Rodalpho said on April 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    My feeling is that they probably did this for audio streaming. Lots of people use youtube to listen to music. They have giant playlists, etc. I’m not sure how it works, since the MPAA is so quick at flagging videos for copyright infringement, but people seem to be happy with it.

  9. Uhtred said on April 7, 2013 at 6:24 am

    more choice over quality/amount of data transfer is great and probably will encourage more use amongst portable users, after all there’s a lot of pay as you go donglers out there where megabytes really do matter.

  10. MÃ¥ns N. said on April 7, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Would have been better if they introduced this as an April Fools joke instead.

  11. isp said on April 7, 2013 at 2:42 am

    It’s business/throttling, only that it’s known as service/buffering. What you need is loads & loads of money otherwise, you can only get loads & loads of dismay.

  12. sandesh said on April 7, 2013 at 5:55 am

    i wish they introduced for all videos on youtube bcoz youtube is buffering for even 240p

  13. slacka said on April 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Not all of us are lucky enough to have high-speed broadband access available to us all this time. This is a wonderful feature. I just wish I could make it default, while I am traveling.

    1. Rodalpho said on April 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Of course that’s true, it can be your connection. But MY problem isn’t my connection– it’s youtube’s.

  14. slacka said on April 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Awesome! I’ve been traveling Cambodia and China. I have a video buffering in the background as I write this. Can’t wait to have more video with this option!

  15. db87 said on April 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    It would be great if it was a april fool, unfortunately its not…

    I just leave Youtube website if Youtube isn’t fast enough for 720p in realtime.

  16. Rodalpho said on April 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Nothing to do with connection quality. Youtube is simply underprovisioned during primetime. That’s why it always buffers.

  17. lainiwaku said on April 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    lol it’s even unwatchable at 244p ! who will use 144p

    1. brightlord said on February 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      For Turkey ISP for us for me.

    2. phillips1012 said on April 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm
  18. Josh said on April 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I Just noticed few days back on couple of video’s and that’s great!!

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