Steven Chen, co-founder of Youtube, announced on Wednesday that high quality video streams are in the works. Why did this announcement take so long? Well, higher quality videos may force users to wait a period of time as videos buffer, changing the instantaneousness of the experience completely. Chen noted that a low-bitrate video stream is what makes Youtube’s content available to anyone, anytime.
If uploaders want their viewers to watch their videos in high resolution, a re-upload may not be necessary. Youtube’s archiving system stores video at their native resolution. However, many videos, Chen said, are often poor quality to begin with.
While I wouldn’t mind watching the new Cloverfield trailer in 720p, I could care less if “The Evolution of Dance” was in high-res or not. Television shows and movie clips, which would be great in a high quality stream, are often promptly removed by the Youtube police. That being said, television networks need to start cooperating with Youtube. Both ABC and NBC have extensive show libraries available on their web sites for streaming, but bugs in their software coupled with annoying advertisements make watching entire episodes a hassle. Just as Youtube’s parent company, Google, shares advertisement profits with sites that host Adsense, I feel that Youtube could do something similar with the major television networks.
Don’t get me wrong, part of me loves the apparent “liveness” that television brings into the room. But as more and more people begin to watch television on their own time, basic cable may become a thing of the past.