Online Video - Streaming video versus downloads


An institution's full motion pre-recorded video programs can be either downloaded by viewers for future play or be streamed in real time. Think of time-shifted television programming such as provided by TiVo.

There are three key advantages of streaming video. First, the programs are viewable almost instantly. They are not copied onto the viewer's computer before or during play, making it difficult for the content to be captured for other uses. Also, the programs are encoded (compressed) for online transmission and can be designed to be of lesser quality than VHS or DVD programs. These two latter features protect an institution's ability to sell its VHS or DVD videos in full-screen television viewing format.

Video downloaded from the Internet can be TV-broadcast quality (even HD quality) although not instantly available for viewing. It can be shown on viewers' living room TV sets instead of PC monitors through services like Akimbo. The Washington Post, in a January 9, 2005 article by Leslie Walker, quoted the CEO of Akimbo addressing the pirating issue: "'The big guys are endorsing this now as a secure system where their content will not get shared,' said Akimbo chief executive Josh Goldman during an interview at the electronics show. Akimbo uses Microsoft software to prevent unauthorized copying of video files." Ms. Walker's article went on to state that "The service requires purchase of a $230 box but soon will be available without the box to owners of Microsoft Media Center computers."

With the advent of QuickTime 7 (for examples of Quicktime 7 quality click here) HD quality is becoming available via streaming video.

In a November 14, 2005 article in the New York Times, Saul Hansell reports on how Web streaming image quality problems have been solved for a new service named In2TV. He says:

AOL will offer a version of the service meant to be watched on a television set connected to a Windows Media Center PC, and it is exploring a similar arrangement to link the Internet programming to television through TiVo video recorders.
For those who want to watch on a big screen, AOL is introducing optional technology that it says will produce a DVD-quality picture. Even with a broadband connection, most Internet video looks grainy at full width on a computer monitor, let alone a big TV set. The new option, called AOL Hi-Q, will require the downloading once of special software, and the program may not start for several minutes, depending on the speed of the users' connection.
There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network. This approach helps AOL reduce the cost of distributing-high quality video files by passing portions of the video files from one user's computer to another. AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.
AOL is using file-sharing technology from Kontiki, a Silicon Valley company providing a similar system to the ambitious Internet video program of the BBC.

Regarding live event streaming, a company named CyberTech Media Group offers a comparison of the quality of live video versus archived video on demand.


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rev. 11/14/05

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