Speaking at the NewTeeVee conference yesterday, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen confirmed that YouTube was testing HD video but qualified the statement by stating that YouTube is primarily focused on providing content to everyone, which doesn’t necessarily facilitate a HD product.
Chen spoke on the difficulties on providing a watchable HD product to many, including buffering times that don’t drive viewers away. Chen told CNet that the first
HDHigh Quality content on YouTube should be available within 3 months.
HD is obviously the next step forward in video, and a spectator who called on HD on YouTube was greeted with cheers from the audience. YouTube is stuck in a difficult position; their wild popularity is in part facilitated by bringing free universal upload and viewing access to everyone, where as accessibility with HD is a big issue. Whilst internet access speeds have finally caught up with the provision of video online in the last few years, the bandwidth required for HD is at a level which automatically limits audience based on internet access speed. High speed broadband continues to have a strong uptake, but outside of major metropolitan centers it remains patchy as access is often not readily available. It will be interesting to see how YouTube balances its stated desire to provide access to everyone vs the growing demand for HD, particularly at a time where competitors are, or are in the process of offering HD services.