Consumer demand drives HD online content

From Colin Mann in Amsterdam

Rich media specialist Akamai Technologies has revealed that trend research conducted with attendees of this year's IBC2008 shows that 82 per Rich media specialist Akamai Technologies has revealed that trend research conducted with attendees of this year's IBC2008 shows that 82 per cent of European broadcast organisations have plans to offer High Definition (HD) video content to online audiences in the next 12 months. Akamai's survey – involving primarily European TV stations, TV networks and video and film production professionals in Europe – revealed that nearly 50 per cent of those questioned believed that consumer demand for higher quality video, in addition to the ability to attract new audiences with differentiated video experiences, were the primary drivers for offering HD content online.

Close to one-fifth of those surveyed are already offering HD experiences online, and the market in Europe is expected to expand over the coming year. When asked about their timeframes for providing online HD video, 64.5 per cent of broadcast organisations responded that they were either offering HD programming to online audiences already or planned to do so in the next 12 months, with 19 per cent planning to do so in the next six months. Video quality standards are also increasing the bitrates by which content is being delivered. Close to 60 per cent of the European broadcasters questioned stated that they planned to deliver their online HD content in bitrates well over 4 Mbps, and around 20 per cent said that they were even aiming for bitrates of more than 8 Mbps.

Short-form content is still leading the pack in terms of consumer interest, with 63 per cent of respondents saying they would continue to offer this to their viewers. However, close to 50 per cent also indicated that they would be offering longer-form content, such as movies and full-length TV episodes. This is in contrast to a survey Akamai conducted with North American broadcasters in November 2007 that revealed that only 35 per cent planned to offer long-form content.

"This indicates to Akamai that broadcasters' increased plans to support long-form content is being driven by the shift towards Internet Television and Internet-enabled devices that allow viewers to access online video content from the comfort of their living rooms," said Alex Gibbons, Director, Digital Media Europe at Akamai. "The shift toward Internet TV has users demanding new video quality standards and offers broadcasters ample opportunities to develop new premium business models around HD content."

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