There seems to be a consolidation of web video services in the works… presumably driven by the costs of hosting and managing these online efforts.
AOL started by announcing plans to dump their higher-def streaming option (“Hi-Q”), saying the user count is: âvery small, so small that we havenât tracked it.â? Part of the challenge is Windows-only playback coupled with a separate download as barriers to entry. Additionally, I’d argue that making visitors specifically seek out the better quality content also limited their success. Similarly, it appears CBS is opposed to higher def content if it requires a dedicated player: “Last thing you want to do is put another hurdle against people watching network television online.â? (Realted – Brightcove is shuttering their direct-to-consumer video services.) The crux of this issue may be DRM… Flash video can’t provide the HD resolutions that protected Microsoft WMV can. While Adobe is beta testing H.264-encoded video through the Flash player, it’s not clear that this content is protected in ways that will keep studios calm. And the argument is being made that consumer expectations are lower with web video, that we’d prefer speed and selection over quality.
AOL followed their Hi-Q announcement by ceasing to distribute paid video downloads. Instead, they’re now reselling Amazon Unbox television and movie content. Om reports video will, of course, be featured within video.aol.com… and relevant search results. Over 20,000 Unbox videos are live and the transition should be completed later this week.
And while we’re discussing online video, NBC may have pulled their content from iTunes this weekend but it’s alive and well via Hulu, Amazon Unbox, and now Netflix. I’m surprised they went through with it, and I owe someone $5…