Thursday, February 21, 2008

Video Killed the .....

As video increases to draw attention, then so does the means of its delivery on the net. Bluray may have won a war over HD DVD, but another battle is looming with respect to digital video downloads and streaming. As more and more clips are generated and quality film on demand looms ever closer video becomes more important. Video is even becoming more important in the book industry is it is now increasingly being used to sell books.

The BBC was reported as considering ditching Adobe’s Flash for the better quality of its iPlayer streams and although they have retracted this they apparently still have quality issues. The quality acceptable for a quick You Tube video is clearly inappropriate to others.

So we have Adobe with Flash and are Microsoft coming along with their high definition ‘Silverlight’ project (Windows Media Video V9 based on VC-1as used by Bluray). Then we have the iPhone and mobile platforms and if players such as the BBC are going to make the iPlayer available on Apples ‘I’ family then there are also bandwidth issues, as O2's EDGE data network is apparently too slow. Then there is the underlying standard MPEG4 and H.264. Enough technology!

When we look at the iPlayer we see a success story. Since its launch service has attracted 2.2 million viewers who have watched a total of 17 million programmes. Currently the audience is about 10% of the live broadcast audience with streaming outnumbering downloads by 8 to 1. However, given you don’t need a licence to watch iPlayer shows, it begs the question whether the BBC has in fact created something that may come back to bite them very hard.