What's the deal with YouTube videos scrambling?

Sometimes when I watch videos on YouTube they go into this scramble mode. Bunch of lines across the screen making the image illegible. Audio is still good. It’s like trying to watch a cable channel I didn’t pay for back in the old days.

If I refresh it’s ok for a while, but then it scrambles again.

Not all videos are doing this, just a few. What’s going on?


It might help if you specify what device, and what browser or app, you’re using to watch YouTube.

Do you have an older computer? You could try updating your video driver. Or if your computer is old enough, might need to upgrade to a newer model.

Before I recently bit the bullet and upgraded to a new desktop computer, my old model, which had been state of the art in its day, had a video card that was so old the company that made it had stopped updating drivers for it. Some videos played just fine; some videos on some sites wouldn’t play at all; some, like instructional videos on Lifehacker and the random news site, would start to play but stop and give an error message after a few seconds. Since I upgraded, no problems at all.

I’ve never seen or heard of any “scrambling” (like they used to do for some TV cable channels). I suspect you have a speed problem somewhere in the data stream, whether the transmission or the display interfaces.

It happens to me when I watch YouTube videos embedded in threads in the SDMB. The video plays normally for about five seconds, then the horizontal hold goes kerflewie, but the sound continues playing. This only affects the video window in the thread, not my whole screen. Chrome browser on a Samsung Galaxy S9.

It doesn’t matter what device I’m on. It happens on my IPad using the You Tube app, it happens on my computer running Google Chrome, it happens on my work computer, etc, and I use fiber optic internet service. Some YT videos go into this weird horizontal scramble mode.

And it’s not just happening to me. Google it. It’s happening for a lit of people. And it’s weird.

Are there specific videos it happens on? For example, are they YouTube movies?

I could see them actually enabling HDCP on those types of videos. It’s a type of DRM encryption and is used by Netflix and Amazon Prime, and likely other streaming TV. I believe I’ve read that YouTube uses it for similar content.

The reason I bring it up is that I would get this weird scrambling effect on my old monitor, as it didn’t support HDCP. It would show the screen every once in a while, but then it would jump to colored static.

Alternatively, YouTube could be experimenting with some codec changes that aren’t compatible with all systems. One way to check would be to try the add-on Enchanted h64ify on your desktop browser, and see if disabling any particular codecs makes the problem go away.

That said, it would be weird for an updated Apple device not to handle the latest codecs. Another idea is that something is going wrong at your local YouTube cache. Are the reports of problems generally by people in the same geographical region?

Those are all I can think of off the top of my head, and only one you can do even remotely anything about. Sorry.

It doesn’t matter what it is. About 10% of the videos on YT have been doing this lately and it doesn’t matter what equipment I’m on.

This. The horizontal scramble but the audio is unaffected.

I’ve seen it multiple times on multiple devices and browsers as well. It appears to be something getting out of sync - it’s certainly not deliberate scrambling. Rebooting my laptop seemed to clear out the problem for a while.

So is it a problem with the videos, the web site, or the devices we’re using?

It’s only happening with a small amount of videos so I understand why others may not have experienced this.

Is it consistent which videos it’s happening with? Maybe you could link to a couple, so we could see if it’s happening for us, too.

So I have a video to link. It is a 2 hour dashcam video of someone driving across South Dakota. Yesterday it went into scramble mode so I went to it today to post at your request. Used the same device and everything and today it doesn’t scramble. WTF? I’ll post it anyway to see what happens.

For a while it would happen on only the Legal Eagle videos I watched, so it’s possibly related to a particular codec being used. I haven’t seen it in a while, but for a few weeks it happened nearly every time I tried watching one.

But it is happening, right? It’s not happening a lot, but it is happening, right? I’m not crazy, right? Not about this, anyhow! :wink:

It’s not happening for me anymore. But it did at least once last week. For the most part, though, I don’t see it. About 2-3 months ago it happened all the time.

In conclusion, you might be crazy. There’s not enough data to be sure.

If you look at the youtube options carefully, there are a lot of different format “codes” like 18, 137, etc. which deliver different videos with different extensions and different formats and resolutions, like AVC, VP9, and so on, even for the same video link. First step might be to see which one(s) are messed up. The youtube-dl from github has an option to download specific streams. I have not encountered this problem myself.

Where do I find these options?

Folks, tell me how this video plays for you. It comes across all horizontal lines for me both on YouTube and on this post.

It plays fine on my phone.

It plays normally, but it is very short. Videos play normally on my phone for a few seconds, then they get scrambled. Post a longer video.

This is true for me also. I did encounter the scrambling on my phone this morning, when I played an embedded video on another site. I then played the video directly in Youtube and it played fine. I just tried it on the computer and had no problems with it.

Here’s the link to the video on the site

Another thing I’ve tried is if the video starts OK but then scrambles 10-15 seconds in, is to jump ahead seemingly past the point that messes up the encoding, and it will play fine after that.