Youtube Gets Bigger – Goes All 16:9 Aspect Ratio Widescreen

Youtube Gets Bigger – Goes All 16:9 Aspect Ratio Widescreen

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As somewhat of a surprise to users, video sharing giant Youtube announced yesterday on their blog that they decided to upgrade the previous player to a new wide-aspect 16:9 ratio video player as the default player on Youtube.  Finally Youtube is joining the ranks of those that have had wide aspect ratio players for some time like Hulu, Blip, Vimeo, and countless others.

According to the announcement, Youtube released this new player in order to users with a “…cleaner, more powerful viewing experience.”

“Over the years we’ve heard a lot of feedback from you about what you’d like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind. That’s why today we’re excited to announce a bigger YouTube player.”

The new default YouTube player is now 640×385 pixels with the video being 640×360 pixels. Of course, you will notice that the embed code they provide is still 425×344 pixels and (being that this is 4:3 format), you will notice that in the embedded video below, there are black bars at top and bottom for a video shot at 16:9.  Videos that were originally a 4:3 format are shown on Youtube with black bars on the sides and in the embeddable player at full size.

Video content owners are still being advised to upload videos using MPEG4, MP3 audio, and a resolution of at least – 480×360.  I have a feeling that will change soon ;-)

According to the folks at Sorenson Media, the following tips will provide the best quality result and are most easily digested by Youtube’s FLV compression algorithm:

  • mp4 format of Quicktime’s h.264 codec
  • bitrate of 256 kbps  for audio
  • bitrate of 4000 kbps for video
  • resolution of 640X480 for 4:3 aspect ratio
  • resolution of 640X360 for 16:9 aspect ratio

Ive already seen a ton of buzz about this announcement on the net with some bloggers raving about this new feature with posts titled “YouTube Finally Widescreen” and others with titles like “YouTube Is Now Pseudo-Widescreen.” Take a look at the discussion board and you will see the various comments, positive and negative.

It seems that everyone is in agreement however, that Google does not release new functionality based off of user feedback alone (as their blog post eludes to).  Rather, the motivation behind this move is likely tied to a strategy for monetization, as it should be.

Certainly you have all seen the news about Hulu generating more advertising revenue than Youtube, primarily attributable to advertiser’s preference for long-form content.  We have already seen that Youtube is now featuring full length CBS shows with pre-roll advertising and there are rumors about MGM Studios will signing an agreement with Google to become the first movie studio to air its feature-length material.  It seems to make sense that the reason would be Youtube’s ambition to increase monetization potential through offering feature length movies online.

All that being said, our announcement last week about their testing of HD high-definition video is likely tied to this.  It seems that almost every new camcorder on the market shoots at 16:9 and most are models are available in an HD version.  So, the change seems like a smart one to me, despite all the user complaints.    What do you think?


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