Akamai Technologies, Inc., the leader in powering rich media, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online, today announced that it is witnessing a trend toward higher definition (HD) video online.
Akamai, working closely with market intelligence firm Broadband Directions, recently conducted a survey of leading broadcast and cable TV networks, online publishers, sports leagues and social media sites. The results demonstrate that there is substantial near-term interest in launching HD broadband video, with a number of offerings already launched. Nearly 75 percent of respondents said they have plans to offer HD video content to their online audiences. In terms of timing, more than 80 percent of respondents with plans to offer HD content said they either already offered HD broadband video or intend to introduce it within the next 24 months. Fully half of respondents said they already offer it or intend to do so within the next 12 months.
While short-form (e.g. previews, news clips) HD content was being offered by close to half of respondents, long-form (e.g. movies, TV episodes, sporting events) was not far behind at 35 percent. One way to interpret the relatively strong interest in long-form is that rights-holders of high-quality video programming (mainly TV networks and film studios), which tend to be highly focused on the user experience, are only now being drawn into broadband because HD is becoming economically and technically possible.
"Even six months ago, a 500 or 700 kilobit per second bitrate was pushing it," said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, Media & Entertainment, at Akamai. "Now while 500-700 kbps is more of the norm, we're seeing companies really pushing the envelope with 1.5 – 2 megabits per second and HD, in the ranges of up to 6 megabits per second bitrates, across our network. This is clearly an indication of consumer desire to experience higher quality content, and of content producers' efforts to meet those needs quickly.”
The study identified increases in consumer last mile bandwidth speeds and penetration, as well as proven premium business models around HD video online, as the business and technical requirements that are most important to broadcasters when making their decision to offer HD video programming online.
"Content providers are enthusiastic about pushing the quality bar, though a key issue is cost of delivery and potential ROI," said Will Richmond, president of Broadband Directions LLC, a market intelligence firm specializing in broadband video.
To deliver an acceptable HD user experience, content providers need a solution that can deliver very large, high bitrate video files extremely quickly. A critical factor to enable high bit rate delivery of very large HD files is the proximity of the end user to the server sending the file. As the user's distance from the server becomes greater, throughput dramatically decreases. Even a seemingly small distance can result in slow downloads, download interruptions and the inability to serve HD content effectively. Akamai has architected its platform to offer an industry-leading solution that content owners can leverage to successfully enable an HD web experience. To read more about Akamai's solutions for delivering High Definition video, visit www.thehdweb.com.