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The Hulu HD Bandwidth Equation


Phil Harvey did some “back-of-the-napkin” figuring about Hulu’s new HD offerings over on The Philter. You can only get into Hulu by beta invite at the moment, but the video streaming site recently started offering some HD clips in addition to full-length SD shows. Figuring that not many folks (beta users only) are watching content on Hulu yet, and not much of the content (nine clips to be exact) is in HD, the bandwidth impact of Hulu isn’t much to be concerned about at the moment. However, a little extrapolation paints an entirely different picture.

Imagine one million viewers accessing two, two-minute HD clips on Hulu per day. That amounts to 75,000 gigabytes of content streaming across the Web per day, and 27,375 terabytes per year.


3 Responses

  1. Hey Mari,

    I did some quick back of the envelope calculations after watching some samples and can confirm that the hulu “HD” content appears to run around 2.5Mbps. However, I don’t think its actually HD.

    If you look at http://www.adobe.com/products/hdvideo/hdgallery you’ll see they offer their trailers at 480p, 720p and 1080p. It looks like the 720p content is running around 5Mbps or so and the 1080p content (I suspect its really 1080i) is running around 9Mbps.

    So the problem is likely worse than you think. Now whether you can tell the difference between 480p and 1080p on a 17″ laptop screen is perhaps debatable, and there is no question the 480p stuff looks very good.

    Its certainly possible they’ll tune these setting lower as time goes by of course, the technology is very new…

  2. Very interesting… I’ll check it out.

    And yes, point well taken about HD distinctions on a laptop screen.

  3. […] the data side, multimedia applications (P2P and otherwise) are raising the bandwidth rates consumers use for common tasks, making it much […]

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