People continue to increase the amount of time they spend watching full-length movies and other premium content online — so shouldn’t they be able to watch more of it in HD quality? That’s the premise behind the launch of Akamai’s new HD video network today; the content delivery company has built a custom player and network that will allow companies to offer HD quality video through Flash, Silverlight, and even on the iPhone.
Many sites offer HD quality clips in limited quantities. YouTube, for example, started offering HD-quality videos last December, and Hulu began offering full-length clips in 720p format last August. During Akamai’s press webcast, CEO Paul Sagan said the goal was to make it easier for media providers — particularly large-scale broadcasters and film studios — to offer HD videos to tens of millions of users on a consistent basis.
“People expect high-quality video from [those kinds of] content providers, but the bitrates are maxing out when you get to millions of concurrent streams,” Sagan said. “That’s only going to increase, so Akamai’s goal is to deliver HD bitrates that can support a prime time-sized audience online.”
Clients like the NBA, Scripps and Fox Interactive already use Akamai (NSDQ: AKAM) to power their online video content (including some live streams); the new HD network includes the same audience analytics on the back-end, and playback optimization on the viewer end. Akamai’s HD player also lets viewers time-shift between live and on-demand streaming, if available.