If I’ve learned anything after five years of delivering video over the Web with iPlayerHD, it’s that bandwidth promises made by Internet Service Providers don’t always match the experiences of the real world. They promise a bandwidth connection speed that would seem to make watching the highest quality video a breeze but the buffering we all experience at times tells a different story. Sure, if several members of our household or office are all watching video at the same time, much of our bandwidth is quickly chewed up. But, c’mon, that can’t always be the reason a video buffers.
At iPlayerHD, all of our videos are delivered by our content delivery network provider, Amazon Cloudfront, which has proven to be an extremely reliable partner. And why not? Amazon has one of the largest networks on the planet, second only to Google. When we receive a support request related to video buffering, we are very confident that the issue is local – that is, the machine or client viewing the video has a bandwidth issue at the moment they are watching a video. These types of support requests are very rare, thank you for that! Just the same, we decided to add a feature that solves the problem in the vast majority of situations when the issue arises.
This new feature, which we call “Allow HD Toggle”, may be turned on or off for all of your videos in your console’s “Manage my Account” page. When you turn this feature on, you will see the HD icon in the control bar of all of your videos. Play the video and the HD will display as active and when “HD” is clicked, the video will restart and the lowest version of your video will play, graying out the “HD” icon. We think this is a great tool that will be intuitively understood by most people watching your videos. We’ll find out soon enough because it is live now.
In the future, when a viewer experiences buffering, clicking on the HD button will likely solve the problem as it will deliver a video file with a much lower bit rate. Of course there will always be the machine with a terrible bandwidth problem and this will not solve that problem. But those situations are becoming increasingly rare and, frankly, there’s nothing we could do anyway.
Have a look below at the new “Allow HD Toggle” feature. Please email me with any questions and or comments.