Consumer Demand Driving More than 80% of European Broadcast Organisations to Offer High Definition Video Content Online, Akamai Reveals

Amsterdam, NL |

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the leader in powering rich media, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online, today announced that trend research conducted with attendees of this year's IBC2008 has revealed that 82% of European broadcast organisations have plans to offer High Definition (HD) video content to online audiences in the next 12 months. Akamai's survey - involving primarily European TV stations, TV networks and video and film production professionals in Europe - revealed that nearly 50% of those questioned believed that consumer demand for higher quality video, in addition to the ability to attract new audiences with differentiated video experiences, were the primary drivers for offering HD content online.

Close to one-fifth of those surveyed are already offering HD experiences online, and the market in Europe is expected to expand over the coming year. When asked about their timeframes for providing online HD video, 64.5% of broadcast organisations responded that they were either offering HD programming to online audiences already or planned to do so in the next 12 months, with 19% planning to do so in the next six months. Video quality standards are also increasing the bitrates by which content is being delivered. Close to 60% of the European broadcasters questioned stated that they planned to deliver their online HD content in bitrates well over 4 Mbps, and around 20% said that they were even aiming for bitrates of more than 8 Mbps.

Short-form content is still leading the pack in terms of consumer interest, with 63% of respondents saying they would continue to offer this to their viewers. However, close to 50% also indicated that they would be offering longer-form content, such as movies and full-length TV episodes. This is in contrast to a survey Akamai conducted with North American broadcasters in November 2007 that revealed that only 35% planned to offer long-form content.

"This indicates to Akamai that broadcasters' increased plans to support long-form content is being driven by the shift towards Internet Television and Internet-enabled devices that allow viewers to access online video content from the comfort of their living rooms," said Alex Gibbons, Director, Digital Media Europe at Akamai. "The shift toward Internet TV has users demanding new video quality standards and offers broadcasters ample opportunities to develop new premium business models around HD content."

While the PC is still the number one device to which broadcasters plan to deliver HD video content, the survey supports a trend toward consumption in the living room with 86% of respondents saying that they plan to target connected devices:

  • 38% of respondents targeting the television
  • 34% targeting the set-top box
  • 9.4% targeting connected DVD players
  • 4.7% targeting connected game consoles

To deliver an acceptable HD user experience, content providers need a solution that can deliver very large, high bitrate video files extremely quickly. A critical factor to enable high bit rate delivery of very large HD files is the proximity of the end user to the server sending the file. As the user's distance from the server becomes greater, throughput dramatically decreases. Even a seemingly small distance can result in slow downloads, download interruptions and the inability to serve HD content effectively. Akamai has architected its platform to offer an industry-leading solution that content owners can leverage to successfully enable an HD web experience.

Technical Criteria for Delivering HD

HDTV is defined by the industry to be video with significantly high pixel resolution of 1080i, 1080p or 720p. In the broadcast world, the industry is undergoing a series of transformations that are standardizing the delivery of high-definition video to the home. For the Internet, Akamai is enhancing HD content on the web by continuing to refine the infrastructure required to bring the HDTV experience to online audiences. Additionally, Akamai will continue to support this effort with new service launches, device integration, and partnerships with technology vendors, expected in the coming months.

Akamai has architected its platform to comply with the following technical criteria that content owners need to leverage to successfully enable an HD web. Akamai believes that it is the first and only platform to meet these technical requirements which include offering:

  • Technology and an operational model to operate serving devices in the largest high-throughput networks around the world (servers need to be physically in the networks, as that is where the capacity lies)
  • Established relationships with the largest high throughput networks
  • Support for delivery, storage, and management of files greater than 2 Gigabytes
  • Support of VC-1 and MPEG-4 video standards, achieving visual parity with other broadcast video networks
  • Support for files with resolutions of 720p, 1080i and 1080p
  • Client-side technology that is deeply integrated into its delivery system to be deployed as appropriate

Industry studies have shown that without meeting these criteria, online audiences will become impatient, tune out, and find premium HD content that works elsewhere. By ensuring these requirements are met, content providers are able to avoid slow or delayed downloads, the inability to serve HD content in its entirety, download interruptions, limited audience reach, and overall poor end-user satisfaction, which often accompany the download of large files. In addition, multi-player compatibility is crucial to meet the needs of a diverse end user community.

To read more about Akamai's solutions for delivering High Definition video, visit www.thehdweb.com.

To read the accompanying whitepaper on High Definition content moving online across Europe, please visit www.akamai.com/hdeurope

The Akamai Difference

Akamai® provides market-leading managed services for powering rich media, dynamic transactions, and enterprise applications online. Having pioneered the content delivery market one decade ago, Akamai's services have been adopted by the world's most recognized brands across diverse industries. The alternative to centralized Web infrastructure, Akamai's global network of tens of thousands of distributed servers provides the scale, reliability, insight and performance for businesses to succeed online. An S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 company, Akamai has transformed the Internet into a more viable place to inform, entertain, interact, and collaborate. To experience The Akamai Difference, visit www.akamai.com.