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Online Video: Quality, Content or Both?

September 17, 2010 - 0 Comments

During IBC 2010, 3DTV dominated much of the conversation with most of the chatter centered around topics like market uptake, screen size and the technology improvements needed to improve image quality.

When you think of how far technology has come during the last 20 years, or even the last ten, it is extraordinary to think of the leaps-and-bounds we have seen when it comes to video delivery and quality. Many could not have forecasted the boom of the iPhone, flat screen HDTV’s and how magical movies like Avatar and other pixilated movies would become – real life and video life are getting ever closer it seems. It is becoming increasingly evident that video and improved digital imagery is here to stay – there is no turning back.

That got me thinking about what do consumers REALLY want? Is it the quality of video or the actual content itself? Certainly, there has to be a minimal threshold for quality, right? And, can we expect both?

Now I have to admit that I still have at least 2 “old school” TV sets, and the quality is far less superior than what is provided by my plasma. But truth be told, if I am desperate to watch my home team’s football game on Saturday (Hook ’em), and it conflicts with my son’s soccer game, I can prioritize and have many options that fit my lifestyle and viewing needs. While big screen is great, I must admit I would watch that game on my 2 inch iPhone screen or any screen for that matter no matter the size, black and white or color screen – it would make little difference. I could also DVR it and watch it when I get back home. If I lived in the UK, I could enjoy 7 day playback with BBC’s iplayer. Or, if I am a subscriber to any one of the Tier 1 operators’ TV service in the US, I can login with my laptop and view it online.

I have choices.

I like choices.

To me, what is really important in this hectic day and age, is having the ability to access my content whenever I want it, and having many content options to choose from. In fact, content delivery, has certainly changed from when the Internet was first born. Now, technologies like Cisco’s CDS can accept almost any format that comes through a Service Providers’ network, ingest the content only once, and share it across the whole network. What would take countless hours before to offer multiple content choices opens up an almost infinite library of content for subscribers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy a 3D experience when the time and location are right; and, I am sure those 3D diehards will be jumping out of their seats as they read this decrying quality above all, just as they did when I was at the show. But, I for one will be happy not to miss my Formula One races and Texas Longhorn games. I venture to bet many others would agree that the need for flexible content will not slow down any time soon.

Quality is unquestionably needed, as the constant buffering on devices drives me up the wall too. But, for now, I’m siding with choices over high end quality touted by the video-phile.

Fortunately, providers like BT are now able to address both the flexibility and the quality issues at the same time. Soon, such an innovative approach will make it to Austin, so that my choice isn’t between one OR the other but both. Then my choice will be “Which to watch first?”, and I like that the best.

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