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Nov 25, 2008

YouTube Goes Wide

YouTube: More to Love

YouTubeAs the prices of professional quality video equipment continue to drop and the number of people with high-speed internet connections continues to increase, online video sites have been scrambling to keep up with their users' desires to deliver higher quality content to their viewers.

YouTube is no different. Today, they announced the latest enhancement to the YouTube platform - a widescreen video format across the site - which they hope will provide users with "a cleaner, more powerful viewing experience."

The new YouTube format increases the traditional YouTube page layout to 960 pixels to make space for the widescreen player - which now carries a 16:9 aspect ratio. Videos uploaded at the 4:3 aspect ratio are also presented in 16:9, but to prevent additional distortion, those 4:3 videos will be bracketed by vertical black bars.

And while the widescreen feature - although a dramatic change to the YouTube player we're used to seeing - doesn't really give rise to speculation, the combined series of recent upgrades to YouTube certainly do. First there was the high-definition video, then the live streaming, and now the widescreen. You have to wonder what Google has up their sleeve for this property. ...

YouTube Goes Wide

YouTube has apparently changed all videos on its site to play in widescreen format. Because most videos on the site were originally uploaded in a ratio closer to 4:3 (the standard size used on non-HD televisions), most videos are playing with horizontal black bars on the side. Some videos (like this one) are taking advantage of the full space, but are shrunk down to the normal size when they’re embedded elsewhere.

It seems that YouTube is either doing A/B testing or that the changes haven’t propagated to all servers (if that’s even possible) - hard refreshing on videos seems to alternate between the standard video player and the widescreen one. But it’s a widespread change, as hundreds of tweetsare pouring in in about the switch to widescreen.

Widescreen YouTube videos have been spotted before now and could be enabled using a tag in the video’s URL, but this seems to be the first time that the feature is activated by default. The change may be related to YouTube’s recent announcement of full-length films from MGM, which pits it directly against Hulu...

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