CBS in the US is testing out in its labs HD streaming. It currently has 2 minute clips of six shows, including Dexter, How I Met Your Mother and the Big Bang Theory; in 480p.
While it has not tested anything beyond that, but they say they will stream in 720p and 1080p soon. They are using H.264/AVC if you want to get technical.
However, it is not the first. Hulu, the video on demand service brought to you by News Corporation and NBC Universal, is showing HD as well; in 360p, 480p and 720p. While the 360p and 480p are streamed, the 720p content is progressively downloaded.
Even if CBS streams in 720p, or with Hulu’s current setup – it will be no different to what you see in the previous formats. Speaking to TechCrunch; Eric Feng, CTO of Hulu, said that the median of streaming in the US is 1.9mb/sec and that is considered to be 720p or higher on the web. But even if CBS chose to stream in 720p, they will experience buffering problems.
High Definition content is starting to appear on the web, with even YouTube trialling it but appears rarely to users and appears at random.
We should also note that Hulu does not have 480p or 720p on most of its videos. It currently has 480p on some of its movies and 720p on videos under its “HD Gallery”. It won’t deploy 1080p because it would be a pain for them and its users.