YouTube really needs new servers. I have a browser plug-in that won't allow playback to start until enough is buffered so that playback continues uninterrupted, and this was going to take 15 minutes to buffer enough of a 5 minute piece. I'm just not that patient. Sorry Tom.
(With a 15 Mb FiOS connection, I know it ain't that. The problem is that YouTube's servers just don't serve 1080 fast enough.)
Wow, what browser do you use.?
I have Firefox and I get 1080 playback instantly, depending on the traffic of course. I also have a fast cable modem connection- 10 I think. No big deal. You might try 720 but I can understand not wanting to wait any unreasonable time period.
Playback would start much sooner without the plug-in, but then playback would stop and start throughout as it buffers. The purpose of the plug-in is to delay playback until the whole thing can play without stopping.
720 does usually buffer much, much quicker. But with a 1080 original and a 1080 monitor...