Google disrupted YouTube video playback on Firefox, again

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 19, 2024
Firefox
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55

Being a Firefox user can be quite difficult these days. Besides getting regular prompts to switch to the browser of a mega-corpo, excuse the Cyberpunk slang, it is predominantly issues with certain websites and services that Firefox users have to battle against.

One of the latest examples comes from Google-owned YouTube. Some Firefox users noticed playback issues on YouTube for several months. These affected high resolution videos only, from 1080p and up. To make matters worse, no clear pattern could be identified.

Some videos played fine, others would stop abruptly when they ran out of buffer. The issue affected Firefox only (and maybe Firefox forks). All Chromium-based browsers were not affected by it.

Investigation points at YouTube as the culprit

After months of investigating the issue, Mozilla finally found a fix for the issue. This fix will be released as Firefox 127.0.2 later this month, as it did not make it into the Firefox 127.0.1 release of today.

The fixing took longer than expected, as it was difficult to reproduce the issue.

According to Mozilla engineer Alastor Wu, the issues was caused by Google's YouTube service and not by a regression in Firefox.

He writes on Bugzilla: "This problem is triggered by bad muxed VP9 bytestream served by Youtube, so it's not a regression on our side, this issue can also be reproduced on old versions Firefox".

In other words: Google introduced the issue on YouTube. While there is no evidence that Google did so deliberately, it is clear that the outcome is catastrophic for affected Firefox users and Mozilla.

Affected users might have blamed Firefox for the issue. Some may even have switched to a Chromium-based browser, as these worked without any issue.

Not the first time, likely not the last

Back in 2018, Firefox engineers complained on Twitter (now-X), that YouTube was loading five times slower in non-Chromium browsers. The issue affected Firefox and the old version of Microsoft Edge back then.

Google was using a deprecated API on YouTube that only Chromium supported. This left Firefox, Edge, and other non-Chromium browsers standing in the rain.

In 2023, Firefox users started to notice another issue on YouTube. Videos would take longer to load, which only affected the browser and not Chromium-based browsers. Microsoft, having switched Edge to a Chromium-base by then, was not affected by the issue.

One potential explanation

While some may cry foul-play immediately, there are other explanations. Here is one:

Google may test changes only in Chrome / Chromium, and not in Firefox. Or it may test changes only cursory in other browsers. This could lead to bugs that are not noticed when new changes are implemented.

Closing Words

The issue that some Firefox users experienced for the past couple of months is likely not the last issue that is going to affect Firefox on YouTube.

Are you using Firefox? Did you experience any issues on YouTube lately?

Summary
Google disrupted YouTube video playback on Firefox, again
Article Name
Google disrupted YouTube video playback on Firefox, again
Description
Mozilla has fixed a playback issue on YouTube that affected some Firefox users for several months.
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Comments

  1. Linda said on June 26, 2024 at 3:18 am
    Reply

    Updated to 127.0.2. Still experiencing YT start delay & 1080 refusal. Maybe 127.0.3?

  2. AnthonyBeyond said on June 25, 2024 at 11:51 pm
    Reply

    As of 6/2024, I also notice on a few occasions that YouTube has slow down within Firefox after a couple of hours of viewing, which in itself would cause my desktop to freeze up! This problem has not happen with Chromium-based web browsers like Brave OR Ungoogled Chromium thus far.

  3. The Prophet said on June 25, 2024 at 5:59 am
    Reply

    Did you experience any issues on YouTube lately?

    Yes. Today I find that YouTube videos will simply not play, in my FireFox browser.

    Google and its hegemony shall decline and fall. And I shall laugh—nay, I shall celebrate the sorrow and suffering of the wicked who propagated and upheld its régime. Their orgy of inhumane greed shall culminate in an harvest of pain.

  4. Edward Francisco Villa said on June 21, 2024 at 3:17 pm
    Reply

    Is it me or does Firefox latest versions have slightly better video quality compared to chrome or edge ?

    I have an HP 17.3′ 1080p panel Envy with a 12th Gen intel 1260p cpu and an Xe graphics in use on board with Intel Arc graphics driver latest versions with upgraded visual C++ / .net / supplemental addon softwares too (via ‘winget upgrade –all –‘ Command thru Terminal in Windows 11)

    I don’t know, the colors look a little bit better in Firefox than in Chrome or Edge . But not by that much.

    I keep using / going back to Firefox for the video quality on youtube and that it just does not drop frames as much at all .

    A+++ to Mozilla for Firefox !!!!!!

    Firefox has terrific performance thou I feel Chrome has a bit better performance thou.

    I am also so impressed with HP laptops because

    my laptop performs better now than it did at initial release about also 2 years ago when I first received it

  5. Anonymous said on June 21, 2024 at 3:12 am
    Reply

    I guess the simple workaround would be to use Firefox with Chrome’s User Agent, fooling YouTube into thinking you are using Chrome.

  6. Derek said on June 21, 2024 at 2:33 am
    Reply

    Ive been experiencing this for months and i always laugh when youtube suggests it is my connection.

  7. Lizard said on June 20, 2024 at 8:25 pm
    Reply

    it’s OK, Brave’s adblocker works great blocking Youtube ads.

    1. traeh nori said on June 21, 2024 at 6:50 pm
      Reply

      .000001 BAT has been deposited in your account.

  8. Anonymous said on June 20, 2024 at 5:43 pm
    Reply

    I’ve got this strange problem with random Youtube videos on Edge recently, latest version (126.0.2592.61).

  9. Fish said on June 20, 2024 at 2:51 pm
    Reply

    Haven’t encountered a single issue as
    discussed here. So far.

    Been watching all yt HD video, ad-free.
    As often as, any time I want. On account
    of my weird work hours front-line in a
    healthcare facility.

    Only on Waterfox + uBo; also BlackFog,
    system-wide.

    Not paying for anything aside from the
    broadband service.

    I’m not sure which one in the layer’s been
    helping me first, but I’m absolutely happy
    with my simple setup.

    Otoh, while I have a lifetime Adguard
    license (from way back), it’s never played
    well with me.

  10. Anonymous said on June 20, 2024 at 2:15 pm
    Reply

    I encountered the problem with YouTube on Firefox. I wondered what was happening. Thanks for the info. I have been using FreeTube a lot to get around the problem.

  11. TypicalGOogle said on June 20, 2024 at 8:26 am
    Reply

    As usual, Google doing google things sabotaging other browsers to say they are slow,buggy, etc. while their ad/spy ridden chrome browser is the best.

    Then again Google is majorly the one dictating webstandards so what users can do?

  12. Andy Prough said on June 20, 2024 at 2:27 am
    Reply

    Youtube is spyware-as-a-service. It’s frankly hilarious that people get so upset about their spyware not working fast enough.

    I’m 100% youtube-free and google-free for quite a lot of years now. Thanks mostly to Edward Snowden.

    1. dumlat said on June 20, 2024 at 7:55 am
      Reply

      That someone managed to siphon and channel a good chunk of public knowledge, doesn’t mean the rest of us should not access that knowledge.
      Living without youtube is a way of life. So is living without books, social interactions or using one’s brain altogether. Everyone should live according to their choice.

      1. Andy Prough said on June 20, 2024 at 2:02 pm
        Reply

        @dumlat – >”Living without youtube is a way of life. So is living without books, social interactions or using one’s brain altogether.”

        This analogy doesn’t make any sense. How is living without youtube analogous to living without books or without thinking? I would think it is more analogous to switching libraries – “I’ll stop checking out books from the local public library and use the local university library instead.”

      2. Tom Hawack said on June 20, 2024 at 3:20 pm
        Reply

        @Andy Prough, I couldn’t more agree. The analogy is relevant of the aura many users provide to digital services once they get hooked. Say Google, say YouTube, say a few others and there go the Illuminati. Only addiction can explain it.

      3. bruh said on June 21, 2024 at 10:37 am
        Reply

        @Andy Prough, @Tom Hawack, you guys are indeed wrong, ignoring youtube entirely is like picking the biggest library in your town and saying “I’m not gonna go there, instead i’ll search local bins for newspaper scraps of info”, the point is there is no alternative library which is as good, you are shooting yourself in the foot for your principles, which is fine as long as you’re willing to admit it. There’s like 17+ years worth of useful videos on there, tutorials, guides, etc, it has been the defacto video hosting platform for nearly 2 decades, there is no alternative to YouTube.

        Maybe you two are old dudes, so yeah there are plenty of birdwatching/photography/fishing blogs, or cooking blogs or I don’t know what old people do, that you can say “I don’t need to go to YouTube”, however this is not the case for anyone under 30. You guys are in a bubble, because of your age – it’s not meant as an insult, i’m just trying to make you aware of it.

        For example, I am old enough to not need any social media, because I remember a time before it was prevalent, and when it began to dominate, I just decided I wouldn’t be a part of it, all my friends know that, so they’re happy to just text me or whatever. But for a kid nowadays? Oh no no no, if you’re not part of the groupchats you will miss out on a lot of interactions and homework help and heads ups. If you’re a kid now and decide to ignore social media, you might be a bit of an outcast.

        How to setup some piece of hardware/software, how to do a certain type of effect in PS/GIMP, how to do a certain thing in coding, how to disassemble/desolder something, uh, laptop/tablet/phone repairs, a lot of stuff is on Youtube and the alternatives are text based which is not good in a lot of cases. Like I said, you’re “grandfathered” in so you know how to get by without it, but it’s not optional for the younger generations, because the things they interact with on a daily basis, are far more likely to have resources on youtube pertaining to it.

  13. ddeep1 said on June 20, 2024 at 2:13 am
    Reply

    Using Waterfox on Win 7 no trouble with youtube at all ! I agree with to mouni this .

  14. Richard Steven Hack said on June 20, 2024 at 1:25 am
    Reply

    “Investigation points at YouTube as the culprit”

    It always is. The biggest bunch of incompetent, greedy, brain-dead asshats as exists in Big Tech.

  15. AC said on June 19, 2024 at 11:23 pm
    Reply

    I think Yandex and DuckDuckGo both have some mechanism for watching youtube videos, using them as some sort of intermediary. It would be interesting to see if this eliminated the problems people were experiencing when directly interacting with YouTube.

    Also, isn’t there something similar on at least some Fediverse instances?

    Of course, the actual problem is Google. But having a workaround for problems you can’t immediately fix never hurts.

  16. NotOnMySideOfTheCloud said on June 19, 2024 at 11:14 pm
    Reply

    It is not just YouTube, which exhibited that very indefinate buffering issue for me just last night. Other developers are increasingly shunning Firefox when they “update” their products too. Their auto generated response: “Use another browser.”

  17. Some1 said on June 19, 2024 at 10:27 pm
    Reply

    I keep seeing people saying YouTube has issues on Firefox. Meanwhile, I have zero issues and zero ads LOL am I lucky or have accidentally figured out a way around it?!

  18. Anonymous said on June 19, 2024 at 10:14 pm
    Reply

    Youtube and anyone can do whatever they want with their website. If it is not broken for Chromium browsers, that means it is Mozilla/Firefox team the ones that has to fix it with whatever method they have to, this applies to any browser and any website they break or have issues with.

    Maybe you think Youtube has to care about Firefox breaking… but no, if it is only specific to Firefox, then Firefox has to find the way to fix it themselves, even if Youtube is doing stuff that will only work in Chromium browsers.

    It’s an obvious thing to say, but some people want to complain about Google everything they do. Firefox has insignificant marketshare, and Google doesn’t care about it, but they will change websites and if it affects other browsers other than Chrome, I am sure they won’t care.

    This logic works in many ways, like how web devs will support APIs only found in Chromium, so should Web devs care if Firefox supports something or not? no, it is Firefox the one that has to support such features.

    People should stop thinking 3% global marketshare is relevant and Google worry so much about Firefox they break website for them…. Well, tell that to a lot of web devs that use specific Chromium APIs and make changes that only work in Chromium.

    1. Bobo said on June 20, 2024 at 8:47 am
      Reply

      Why is market share relevant for the user? For SHEEP it is of course, must use what everyone else is using. If every user was fully informed on what’s going on and every computer would upon first start show a popup where the user can choose browser, your precious market share would be quite different from what it is now. Imagine that, a popup that says: Firefox (This blocks all ads and cookie banners, with extensions), Google Chrome (This blocks a few ads with an extension), Microsoft Edge (This blocks a few ads, with an extension) etc etc… The market share is RIGGED, people are fooled and pressured to use ad-vessels disguised as “web browsers”.

    2. Anonymous said on June 20, 2024 at 8:34 am
      Reply

      Well .. this is true until the moment, when Google gets an antitrust lawsuit. Microsoft knows (for exactly the same reasons), how this feels.
      So: true, one can do with one’s web page what one wants. That is: as long as one doesn’t have a market dominating position, which Google clearly has. From that moment on, things start to look quite different.

  19. John G. said on June 19, 2024 at 7:46 pm
    Reply

    Hi again @Martin, I love the screen captures of these colorful Youtube videos that you have merged in this article and in others articles also, with those lovely and fantastic cartoons! They are so nice to see at any hour, in fact my sister always has a lot of Zelda videos and also a lot of the Mario Bros series too! Also some of my cousins love those videos, tons of such beautiful videos to have a young soul inside us all. Thanks for the articles and also for the nice colors of the captures! :]

  20. no way said on June 19, 2024 at 7:03 pm
    Reply

    just use an extension that changes the browser id to chrome, ff works just fine

  21. 8-bit Supremacy said on June 19, 2024 at 6:19 pm
    Reply

    That’s bad, cuz FF is the only browser that doesn’t render videos soft when watched in lower size. All chromiums do. What I mean is if you watch a 1080 video in, let’s say ~720 ish size, it’s still sharp and doesn’t loose details in FF.

  22. 11r20 said on June 19, 2024 at 4:32 pm
    Reply

    Back in the day we just payed for bandwidth. Nowadays folks not only pay for a service provider, they have to pay ‘Big-Tech/5-eyes’ with data that’s nefariously collected.

    It’s up to the individual whether or not they want to keep playing the
    5/9/14-eyes tracking/bloat-game.

    I’m on low data, my OS is designed to work with low data, so there’s absolutely no reason to participate in the global-bloat-game.

    My old Firefox and one of it’s forks, continue to work just fine.

  23. itsel said on June 19, 2024 at 4:10 pm
    Reply

    Using Firefox ESR, NoScript, uBO, and have never had any issues with YouTube, and never seen adverts. I just allow youtube.com temporarily in NoScript as needed.

    The best thing about using ESR is that the latest-version users do all my debugging, so by the time I get upgraded, problems like the one in this post are usually fixed for me.

    1. Anonymous said on June 19, 2024 at 10:51 pm
      Reply

      There is no point in running NoScript in combination with uBO. uBO can do everything that NoScript does, like disabling javascript by default for all websites, as well as blocking all 3rd party domains if you configure it that way.

      1. itsel said on June 21, 2024 at 1:18 am
        Reply

        No point for you, perhaps, but I’m frequently playing with scripts and find NoScript easier to use than uBO for what I want. YMMV. I don’t recommend NoScript (or messing with scripts in general, beyond using blocklists) for civilians.

      2. Anonymous said on June 20, 2024 at 8:41 am
        Reply

        unfortunately not .. NoScript has some more features, than just script blocking
        … and uBO can also not do everything that eg uMatrix can (also from Raymond Hill) .. these are different tools with different specializations

  24. dumlat said on June 19, 2024 at 3:44 pm
    Reply

    If you have to use youtube, try freetube if you still haven’t and open YT links within. You can opt to open YT url’s directly too but it requires installing a complicated set of extensions, which is a mess and breaks a lot.
    Freetube brings speed, local download, heavy customization and no ads. Not bad at all, long as it lasts.

    1. Bobo said on June 20, 2024 at 8:53 am
      Reply

      Just install PotPlayer (not the 64-bit version, it’s crap) and point Freetube to Potplayermini.exe in programfiles, then just click the “open in PotPlayer icon” under the video and you’re good to go. Use a PotPlayer skin that has the options to choose from all the available YouTube resolutions. Not complicated at all, not a mess and breaks nothing.

  25. User said on June 19, 2024 at 3:27 pm
    Reply

    I went back to firefox because of the end of manifest v2. Yes, i can clearly feel that google related sites are not as snappy as in chromium browsers, and I am affected by the youtube issue as well.
    But I love firefox. I tried brave to go around the youtube issue, but tbh I dont really like brave ( I admit that it is the best chromium alternative but i just hate its UI).

    I am planning to install chrome desktop and install youtube as an app. As I have premium I dont get ads, and youtube works flawless with chrome.
    For everything else, I use FF.

    1. Iron Heart said on June 19, 2024 at 7:13 pm
      Reply

      Manifest V3 is no reason to leave Chromium-based browsers in general despite the astroturfing campaign of the Firefox fanboys. Some Chromium-based browsers such as Brave have built-in adblockers which are not reliant on any extension APIs (and consequently, are unaffected by any change to those APIs). FF users want to draw new users to the product because they know that the ship is sinking rapidly, it’s not exactly surprising.

      1. traeh nori said on June 20, 2024 at 6:55 pm
        Reply

        Manifest V3 is no reason to stay with Chromium-based browsers in general despite the astroturfing campaign of the Google fanboys. Some Chromium-based browsers such as Brave have built-in adblockers, but are inferior in every way to uBlock Origin (although Google fanboys will try to convince you otherwise). Google users want to draw new users to the product because they know that the ship is sinking rapidly, it’s not exactly surprising.

      2. user said on June 20, 2024 at 9:47 am
        Reply

        I tried edge and chrome with ublock lite (manifest v3 friendly extension). It is far far away from ublock origin.

        As I wrote in my comment (probably you should read again) I admit that brave is a good alternative. But I just dont like its UI.

      3. Bobo said on June 20, 2024 at 8:57 am
        Reply

        Nice try. I don’t want Firefox to dominate the world, I don’t care if Firefox has ONE user or a million users. All I care about is ME and MY browsing needs and that Google and Microsoft both die.

      4. Tom Hawack said on June 20, 2024 at 3:29 pm
        Reply

        @Bobo, same here. As for dying, do we know that in the Middle-Ages two modes would apply to burning heretics ; the fast way (big flames) and the slow way (small flames). Of course the latter, far more sophisticated in terms of sufferance, was reserved for those considered as 100% guaranteed evil on Earth. From there on no need to precise the fate we’d expect for companies we consider as evil on Earth. Companies, be noted, of course.

  26. John said on June 19, 2024 at 2:46 pm
    Reply

    Well Firefox is sort of the lone non Chromium browser these days. Not to mention its rather dismal market share. Its like I have found using Firefox at times that does not work with some web sites. I just think many developers maintaining the web site does not bother to test much with Firefox these days. I am sure it will get resolved eventually by YouTube but I don’t think Firefox can continue to avoid the reality of Chromium being the standard for web browsers.

    1. Iron Heart said on June 19, 2024 at 7:10 pm
      Reply

      Why don’t web developers waste their time testing for my 3% market share engine? Reeeeeeeee

    2. Anonymous said on June 19, 2024 at 4:03 pm
      Reply

      Nice strawman. It’s Google fault period. Seethe more.

    3. Brotherhood of Google Fanboys said on June 19, 2024 at 3:58 pm
      Reply

      Agreed, Brave recognizes and accepts Google’s superiority, why doesn’t Firefox? The future is Google, not Firefox or its forks.

      As far as ad blocking, the built in blockers that other Chromium browsers use is far superior to uBlock + Firefox.

      1. upp said on June 19, 2024 at 8:12 pm
        Reply
  27. Tom Hawack said on June 19, 2024 at 2:09 pm
    Reply

    Google’s odyssey with Youtube, be it or not aimed at the Firefox browser is becoming fastidious.
    History of incidents is relevant of a chaotic relationship between YouTube and Firefox as well as my comments regarding my work-around is becoming boring to write and read : a front-end which acts as a proxy, ‘Piped’ is my choice. I don’t know what I’d encounter should I access YouTube the standard way, and I don’t want to know. It’s been some time now that I avoid all of GAFAM to the maximum extent. I’ll never surrender on that, though the exception remains for the time being the very Microsoft OS, bound to be a memory. What has the WWW become? The World Wild Web as it seems.

  28. Bobo said on June 19, 2024 at 1:30 pm
    Reply

    The ONLY potential explanation: Google sabotaged Firefox again because Google’s adblocking killing is imminent. Mozilla was never expected to find the reason beforehand. The plan was that Chrome users that hear about the adblocking getting severely crippled obviously try Firefox instead, and what do they test first? Youtube videos. HD Youtube videos. They would of course notice that Firefox doesn’t work correctly so Google are counting on that the users return to using their ad-machine they call a browser instead. It really is that simple. Google desperately need Chrome-slaves to increase revenue. Next step is of course that Google will stop funding Mozilla. Let’s see what ridiculous reason they come up with… Everybody hates ads, get that in your head Google.

    1. Anonymous said on June 19, 2024 at 10:20 pm
      Reply

      @Bebo, don’t be dumb, MV3 is not killing any adblocker… go and use ABP which is the only stable adblocker to be in the store, they already updated Mv2 to MV3 without any issues and works fine allowing custom adblock rules and lists.

      uBo lite works also fine supporting what seems to be most (I won’t say all) but they don’t support Custom rules.

      and Adguard allows tons more rules than ABP, custom list and rules, but I won’t recommend it because it has a big bug injecting Scriptlets. No MV3 fault since ABP and uBlock Lite can do it properly.

      So if you are going to comment, at least get your facts checked, MV3 is working fine. The limits in the DNR shouldn’t be a problem for most people and rules work, just as MV2….

      Your theory is just dumb and shows you lack reality. 3% global marketshare is nothing, Firefox keeps losing marketshare each year, when people see that adblockers work okay under MV3 and finally realize that it was just a lie, they will go back to Chromium, plus using a policy to keep running MV2 extensions for a year, won’t kill anybody if you want to sideload MV2 extensions.

      Do you even know Mv3 is not exclusively to Adblockers? extensions like Tampermonkey got MV3 two weeks ago, they even use the new MV3 userScript API, and it works okay, still missing some features but eventually it will get feature parity with MV2.
      Betterttv also switched to Mv2, so probably 90% extensions are now Mv3, from few weeks ago when Google said only 85% were Mv3.

      Stop the fairy tales and come back to reality

    2. upp said on June 19, 2024 at 8:15 pm
      Reply

      Well, money that Google paid Mozilla is protection/guardian fees to stop EU from banning Google Chrome due to anti-trust, it’s not donation.

    3. Bobo said on June 19, 2024 at 3:57 pm
      Reply

      Not too long ago I installed Zorin OS 17 on an old laptop that had no issues playing 1080 videos in YouTube before. So I start Firefox and the performance is abysmal. Not for one second did I think the problem is something else than Zorin and Wayland, so I just erased the whole OS and decided it’s fu**ing shit. Should have known that it was Google all along… This sh*t trickles down to linux also, since Firefox is the default browser on most distros. Thanks a lot Google, you endless turd.

  29. to mouni ths said on June 19, 2024 at 1:28 pm
    Reply

    Fuck google and fuck Youtube.

  30. Tom said on June 19, 2024 at 1:15 pm
    Reply

    > Google may test changes only in Chrome / Chromium, and not in Firefox. Or it may test changes only cursory in other browsers.

    A lack of test coverage is neither likely nor an excuse for a billion-dollar company like Google. Other explanations are therefore probably more realistic.

  31. vgtz said on June 19, 2024 at 1:10 pm
    Reply

    Outlook also runs very slow on Firefox, using more ram than Gmail and cpu…
    This on Linux.
    Normally is related to some scripts so there is No Script for people with patiente to use it…
    Some organizations always had some kind of trouble with Firefox as with the great Netscape – Maybe is related to karma!

    1. upp said on June 19, 2024 at 8:08 pm
      Reply

      I’ll read comments in this post later, but swear if I see those who blindly defend Youtube this time they must be retarded

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