In an era of continual Internet innovation, one of the biggest trends is the Internet’s rapid growth as a platform for rich, high-definition content such as graphics, animation, video and film.
Coming to your screen: the high-definition Internet
One of the key drivers of this growth is a new generation of Internet applications and user interfaces that make it easier than ever before to create and access high-definition multi-media content on the Web.
Take Microsoft's new Silverlight technology: an application that extends the capacity of web browsers to easily view high-definition content and also makes it much easier to use sophisticated user interfaces, such as simultaneous viewing of several videos. The goal is to enable rich, compelling, immersive, highly usable applications and content across the Web, the Windows desktop, mobile devices and the digital home.
Silverlight works as a ‘plug-in', which means that it is compatible with multiple platforms and browsers, including Windows, Apple Macintosh and Linux, and utilises a specific design language, XAML. Based on an open XML format, XAML provides a ‘common language' between designers and developers: two communities which usually do not share the same tools or language. Now, using Silverlight and the Microsoft Expression Studio design tools, more fluid working relationships are possible, with designers and developers working in tandem to translate visual ideas into user interfaces. As a result, Silverlight is driving significant innovation ‘under the bonnet' by enabling for the first time a seamless workflow that drastically reduces cost, overhead and development cycles.
These features make Silverlight particularly relevant for the advertising and broadcast sectors, which are major users of innovation in high-definition and high-quality visual experience for the viewer. Furthermore, Silverlight provides new options for subscription and adsupported business models, by providing a quality that scales from high-definition to mobile devices.
Among the first movers is the premium car sector: for example, in October last year, BMW was the first major German brand to launch their video archive based on Silverlight, combining rich content capability with enhanced brand value over the internet, with its own dedicated camera and editorial team.
Then there's the broadcast sector, where one of the first movers is Premiere, Germany's leading pay TV operator, which has a subscriber base of 3.4 million households. Premiere sees HD Internet technology as a key way to secure a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As Steve Wysocki, Managing Director, Premiere Interactive explains, “We want to participate in forward-looking technologies at an early stage to gain a competitive advantage while reaching new target groups and increasing awareness of our premium content. Internet Pay TV is an extension of our core business. Some target groups may only be interested in certain programming rather than a full subscription. It could be the first step in getting people in contact with our premium content without having a subscription.”
Another example from Germany is one of the biggest video on demand (VOD) offerings in Europe, Maxdome, owned by German media group, ProSiebenSat1. Maxdome will use Silverlight through their video-on-demand portal, which currently stores around 10,000 titles. Silverlight will provide an entirely new look and feel for the site, allowing for additional contextual information around each title; while the functionality in terms of drag and drop, as well as playlist compilation, will significantly advance the user experience beyond what is currently possible. It also marks a significant investment in the future of web-TV and VOD over the internet, by the second largest commercial broadcaster in Europe.
The potential of HD Internet video-on demand to reach multiple audiences in new and innovative ways is tremendous with many more sectors likely follow the pay TV and advertising industries in exploring and innovating with these rich new content capabilities.