TV and Video – Its the content and convenience that counts, not the quality

By January 11, 2007Content, HDTV, IPTV, TV, Video

People care about what they are watching much more than the quality of the picture.  This is something I’ve been saying for a long time, and posted about before in HDTV – do people care?

It’s a message that it seems a lot of people don’t want to hear.  So stimulated by Alan Patrick saying the same thing over on Broadstuff earlier this week I’m saying it again.

As Alan points out Clay Shirky makes the same point here.

A few of the key data points are:

  • Only 25% of owners of HDTV sets in the UK are forecast to bother getting HDTV services – the rest are happy with the cool look of their flat panel TV and not too fussed about the quality of the picture (from Screen Digest and cited my earlier post)
  • MP3s are destroying CDs despite the fact the audio is lower quality (Clay Shirky)
  • The popularity of YouTube – 100m+ streams a day despite the fact that the quality sucks (both of flash streams over broadband and a lot of the underlying video content)

By contrast the arguments in favour of quality counting are usually of the “once you have seen it you will understand” kind.

  • Totally agree Nic.

    One of my jobs while at the BBC was to run technology demos. On one occasion I mischievously placed a demo of an HD period drama alongside one of hand held DV shot by radio journalists. I pointed out that in both cases you stopped noticing the quality after about a minute and all you were aware of was the content.

    This was considered heresy!

  • Totally agree Nic.

    One of my jobs while at the BBC was to run technology demos. On one occasion I mischievously placed a demo of an HD period drama alongside one of hand held DV shot by radio journalists. I pointed out that in both cases you stopped noticing the quality after about a minute and all you were aware of was the content.

    This was considered heresy!

  • Euan is correct – I was doing a bit of research into 70’s analog versions of today’s digital surround sound (the Hafler Principle if you are interested – for a few of pennies you get analog surround sound that works very nicely)

    Anyway, one of the things the guys realised in the 70’s was that our brains are not just media receivers, they are editors and will “fill in” gaps etc in the signal until our internal picture is coherent with our experience

  • Euan is correct – I was doing a bit of research into 70’s analog versions of today’s digital surround sound (the Hafler Principle if you are interested – for a few of pennies you get analog surround sound that works very nicely)

    Anyway, one of the things the guys realised in the 70’s was that our brains are not just media receivers, they are editors and will “fill in” gaps etc in the signal until our internal picture is coherent with our experience

  • darn…wrong link – the Hafler principle is here

  • darn…wrong link – the Hafler principle is here

  • Nope…not there either…it is hopefully here

    Wish one could edit ones typos in one’s comments 🙁

  • Nope…not there either…it is hopefully here

    Wish one could edit ones typos in one’s comments 🙁

  • nic

    Glad we are all in furious agreement here (but hope we are not self selected like minded people in the first place!)

    The interesting thing about Euan’s comment is that this issue can be the proverbial elephant in the room. At the beeb the notion that quality is not that important was “heresy” i.e. beyond discussion.

  • nic

    Glad we are all in furious agreement here (but hope we are not self selected like minded people in the first place!)

    The interesting thing about Euan’s comment is that this issue can be the proverbial elephant in the room. At the beeb the notion that quality is not that important was “heresy” i.e. beyond discussion.