What Classifies Online Video As HD Quality?

While there continues to be a lot of talk in the industry about HD quality web video, to date, I still have yet to figure out what classifies web video as HD quality? As an industry we are using the word HD to clarify video as being a certain level of quality, but these days it seems many are calling their video HD or their video delivery offering as supporting HD, but then the video is not truly HD by TV standards.

Depending on who you ask, the HD standard for the web video seems to be all over the map. While we know that for broadcast TV HD quality is usually defined by a resolution of 1080i, 1080p or 720p, the codec used for web video seems to play more of a role in the definition of HD web video than in the traditional broadcast industry. Some also say that you have to take into account the bitrate the file is encoded at in order to classify it as HD or not.

We’ve seen delivery networks say they can deliver HD video over regular 6 megabit connections and others who say they can do it over connections at half that. Many delivery networks all say they support "HD quality" but then don’t define what they classify HD quality to be and what their offering supports. The recent Operation MySpace webcast was touted as HD quality but then I saw many in the industry commenting on how it really wasn’t HD quality due to the codec that was used.

So what is HD quality on the web? What are the classifications we need as an industry? While HD web video has very little traction today, with the term being used so often, we better create some sort of standard agreed upon. If we don’t, over time, the word HD may not be associated with such good quality video as we want it to be.