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RealTime IT News

Most Americans Can't Watch Net Video

With President Clinton's grand jury testimony being broadcast on the Web yesterday, Internet sites were bracing for enormous amounts of traffic, as was the case when the Starr report was released.

But reports show that most Americans tuned into old-fashioned television to see the president squirm, largely in part due to technological limitations.

Measurement firm Media Metrix reported that only 25% of computer users have the appropriate technology to watch videos on their computers, and of those who can access video, most receive a very slow, small, and crude video image.

Seventy million Americans have home PCs, according to Media Metrix, but only 17.4 million users own the hardware and software to view Web video in real time.

In order to run video on a PC, users need at least a Pentium/586 processor, 16MB RAM, 256 colors, 28.8kbps modem, and a Windows 95 or comparable operating system.

"While an unprecedented number of Americans now have access to computers, not all are equipped with the latest video viewing tools or high-speed connections that make video viewing practical," said Mike Watters, CEO of Inverse Network Technology, in a statement.

He added that Internet Service Providers also can be a hindrance.

"Given the lack of massive and cheap bandwidth, the Internet is not as well suited for quality video, so people were much more apt to rely on the extensive TV coverage that many stations provided."

Even with the limitations, though, Internet sites like broadcast.com and CNN.com reported record video streams of the president's testimony. InterVU Inc., which delivered the broadcast to CNN, reported over 500,000 total video streams yesterday.