Google’s YouTube has rolled out a high-definition option for video and created new landing pages to make it easier to find popular video categories.
The changes are part of a series of improvements Google is making to YouTube as it tries to stay ahead of emerging rivals such as Hulu and deal with the problem of users uploading copyright video.
The HD option increases the size of videos and has startling clarity, with the quality more faithful to the format in which it was originally recorded. The resolution is 1290 by 720 pixels, compared to 640 by 480 pixels for the non-HD videos.
The larger size and better quality, however, means the video requires more data and demands a fast broadband connection for flawless streaming.
YouTube has created a category highlighting videos that are available in HD. They have a “watch in HD” link in the lower right-hand corner — an option Google started to roll out quietly earlier this month.
The company has published a set of guidelines videographers can follow to get the best results.
Google has also opted to segment some YouTube content into three categories to help with navigation.
“News, music and movies are huge categories on YouTube and as a result it can sometimes be tough to find exactly what you’re hoping to watch,” according to the YouTube blog.
YouTube users upload 13 hours of video per minute to the service. Google has been eager to find a way to monetize the site while also addressing concerns that it popularity has been built in part by the illegal posting of copyright content.
Google built its own system to identify newly uploaded videos that may violate the rights of a copyright owner. Content owners give reference videos to YouTube, which are analyzed using a special algorithm. If a similar video is uploaded — even if is missing some frames, is a different size and has subtitles — the content owner is notified.
At that point, the owner can decided whether to allow the video to stay online and run ads next to it, or take it down.
YouTube has also been incorporating links to Amazon.com and Apple’s iTunes store from posted content, which Google officials say has helped boosted sales of DVDs and other media.