Lightbox Boxes Clever With HD

New Zealand’s newest video on demand service will stream virtually all of its content in HD.

Lightbox, which goes live later this month, initially will offer 5000 hours of TV shows at launch and almost everything except children’s programmes will be accessible in 720p or 1080p.

That will be in stark contrast to TVNZ, MediaWorks and Sky’s SD on-demand services while Lightbox’s library will be deeper and more exclusive than Quickflix’s TV selection.

NZ premieres like Vikings, Outlander, 24: Live Another Day, Alpha House, Betas and Arrested Development will complement seasons of premium fare that previously you needed a Sky subscription to view or which hitherto has screened here only in SD (Mad Men, Masters of SexLouie, Downton Abbey, Orphan Black, Doctor WhoThe Inbetweeners).

Although a Spark (formerly Telecom) initiative, subscribers will be able to access Lightbox on any ISP, register up to five devices on their account and stream two shows at once using their laptop, desktop or iPad (and viewed on a TV via an HDMI connection or Apple AirPlay).

“Before Christmas, we will announce additional devices,” Telecom Digital Ventures’ Mike McMahon (left) says.

“We have to start simple and get  the core platform in place. Laptops and iPads are the right place to start.”

He believes broadband will be adequate for everyone to enjoy HD streaming if they have the compatible equipment.

Streaming quality, he says, will be influenced more by how close you live to the roadside cabinet, the calibre of your home network, from the age and sophistication of your router to your laptop, and how many digital devices that households may be using when content is being streamed.

“File sizes will range from 2.6Mb for the low end to 5.0MbB for the high end.

“Bit rates might go up and down during streaming, depending on variations in the particular broadband connection or home network, but customers with 7Mb of bandwidth can enjoy HD quality.”

He predicts the quality of streaming will be as good if not better than Netflix because local rather than overseas servers will deliver the content.

“We believe that overall the quality will be improved because servers will be local and content will originate from New Zealand, not the US.”

But Lightbox won’t be competing with Netflix when it comes to 4K streaming.

McMahon says the Lightbox platform is future-proofed for 4K streaming, with the H265 codec.

“But there will be nothing offered in the near term. There needs to be sufficient [4K] devices in the marketplace and sufficient availability of content.”

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