Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Like listening to a CD over a walkie-talkie

Thursday June 7, 2007

I have to agree with Kottke that YouTube sucks for sports highlights. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for what’s out there and have spent hours looking at clips. It just seems like we’re where we were during the mid-1990s with internet audio. We were just so overjoyed to get something over our speakers that it didn’t matter if it sounded tinny, distorted, and dropped off every few minutes. YouTube is good enough to get the point across and show the red blob scoring against the orange-ish blob.

It’s especially bad with prospect videos, since so much of them are low-quality to begin with before you compress the hell out of them for YouTube. I was looking at the A.J. Green video that pwd had the other day and could barely follow the plays. And I have better than 20-20 vision.

So what’s next? The success of YouTube is obviously not due to the quality of the videos. It’s the simplicity of viewing, sharing, and embedding videos. That makes for an instantly viral site that has built up a good enough community around its brand to fend off knock-offs. The acquisition by Google doesn’t hurt either. Ideally, we’d want the ease of watching and sharing a YouTube video with HD quality which loads and streams nearly seamlessly. And a pony.

We’re still far away from that day both in terms of Internet bandwidth and client processing power – cable companies have enough issues just delivering their TV signals. There are services coming like Joost which are streaming video at higher qualities, but people can’t upload to them. Then there are the issues of ownership. Broadcasters might not care if some ultra-low quality clip of a game shows up on YouTube. But a service that offers HD-quality highlights and game clips might run into the "express written consent" folks.

2 Responses to 'Like listening to a CD over a walkie-talkie'

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  • I think that a lot of this is simply cost – in order for YouTube to remain free they have to balance it with bandwidth/quality. Google’s acquisition, as you said, certainly helps since Google has more money than God. I would think YouTube is already looking at a subscription service test run that would provide video on par with Joost or Netflix’s view-via-PC service. But you’re right: once the quality gets better the legal eagles of the major media companies will no doubt squawk louder.

  • One of the biggest short term problems with the quality of the signal is the image size. Almost all Video is uploaded to Google at 352 pixels wide. Yet, their default broadcast width for embedding video is 460 pixels wide. That takes an already pixelated image and stretches it un-necessarily an additional 30% more.

    I edit the embed video command to shrink the width. But most folks don’t and it makes their videos look even more butt.

    I think this problem will get sorted out sonner than you think. It requires:
    — an upgrade to MS Movie Maker to dramatically improve compression technologies.

    — More computing horsepower on the client side. The bandwidth and server processing power is already there.