Lastest Data Shows HD Video Not Growing As Fast As Some Suggest, Even On TV

While there is no question that HD quality video is growing online, the rate of growth is not as big as some want to suggest and not as dramatic as some vendors make it out to be. Delivering HD quality video online is not a technology problem nor an issue with the last mile, but rather a business problem due to the cost associated with the extra bits going from SD to HD.

Yesterday, Nielsen released numbers on the adoption of HD quality broadcast video to the TV and found that only 19% of viewing on broadcast television was actually in true HD, even though 56% of all U.S. households have an HD capable set. With 44% of U.S. homes not having HD service or an HDTV, these numbers also directly affect all of the streaming device manufactures who are bringing new devices to the living room. You hear a lot about HD quality video and how streaming media is suppose to be a replacement to TV, but rarely does anyone talk about the quality differences between the two.

If only 19% of all TV viewing is HD quality video, the number for online is even less. In 2008 we did a survey and found that of the 1,000+ content owners we surveyed, less than 2% were encoding video for 3Mbps or more. The same survey in 2009 found that of the 812 content owners we surveyed, only 3.8% were encoding video for 3Mbps or more. I'll be completing a survey for 2010 shortly, but based on the initial information I have collected so far, I would expect that less than 5% of all content owners today are encoding their content in HD quality video. HD quality video simply is not growing as fast as some folks think and it's important to keep that in perspective as I hear a lot of industry people talk about "the growth of HD video" as being one of the catalysts for this industry.

The Nielsen report is also a good reminder that it does not matter what the install rate of a device, technology or service is, but rather the adoption rate. That's all that matters.