Google Inc. has launched a video performance-grading system, describing the feature as a tool to give users a clearer picture of how their internet service providers (ISPs) are serving them based on YouTube playback.

The new Video Quality Report service is first available to Canadians, but will eventually expand to other international markets, YouTube director of product management Shiva Rajaraman told the Financial Post.

Consumers who run the test would have the video report as an easy-to-understand barometer for measuring whether their connection speeds are up to snuff. A better ranking would be achieved by a service provider that can better handle playing high-definition (HD) YouTube videos.

For example, a user would score a "YouTube HD Verified" grade if their ISP in that region was able to load 90 per cent of the YouTube videos they see in HD and also be able to stream those videos smoothly.

HD videos would run in 720p (pixels) resolution. A "standard definition" branding would be given to ISPs that successfully load videos in 360p most of the time, while networks with significant loading issues for even non-HD videos would be considered "lower definition," indicating unstable connections in the area.

Canadian networks 'very impressive'

Google said it hopes the project will help consumers get the most bang for their ISP buck and choose the right speed package for them.

As for why the online giant selected Canada as its test market for the Video Quality Report, Rajaraman told the Financial Post that Canada's ISP marketplace represents a "very impressive" landscape as far as ability to score "HD Verified" status.

"We wanted to start with a market where clearly people are doing it well, and we wanted to lead with the best,” he said.

YouTube, the Google-owned video service, announced last year that users were streaming more than six billion hours of video every month.

Google said providers may, in the future, advertise about their performance on the Google video classification system to attract subscribers.