AOL Shifts (Video) Gears

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: “very small, so small that we haven’t 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 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…

4 thoughts on “AOL Shifts (Video) Gears”

  1. Tried to install the NBC Direct player (thanks for the link), but get an error installing the OpenCASE Media Agent. Since they use P2P to support the video downloads I’m not sure it would have worked anyway here at work, but thought I’d try it. Sent them a bug report though I suspect they won’t respond…

  2. Hey didn’t we have a bet NBC would be gone from iTunes by year end?

    You said “no way” and I said “yeah-huh”, name calling and double daring followed?

  3. Yep, click the link above – I gave you credit. Apple must have really pissed NBC off. If they were just doing Hulu, I’d get it. But they’re distributing content via other partners too.

  4. I am surprised it took this long. I wonder if NBC was already aware of the potential for a writer’s strike way back in August ( they are on strike because they feel they aren’t getting their cut of digital downloads ). Maybe NBC was telling the union they were going to bail on iTunes to try to get them not to strike. But whatever.

    Send my bet winning virtual beer here:

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