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YouTube to Support High-Res 1080p Videos

Google's popular video site YouTube plans next week to begin offering videos in 1080p format, a high-resolution HD video mode that offers superior image quality geared for wide-screen displays.

"As resolution of consumer cameras increases, we want to make sure YouTube is the best home on the Web to showcase your content," Billy Biggs, a software engineer at the video site, said in a post on the YouTube blog.

The new viewing option will expand YouTube's HD mode beyond the current resolution limit of 720p.

But the new format, oriented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, figures to be a bandwidth-intensive way to view videos, so Biggs advised that it won't be for everyone.

"For viewers with big monitors and a fast computer, try switching to 1080p to get the most out of the full-screen experience," he said.

Biggs said Google is working to re-encode videos that have already been uploaded in 1080p, but were previously only available in the 720p HD maximum.

Support for the new format follows several moves by YouTube that aim to improve the quality of the site and grow its legitimacy in the eyes of advertisers.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion in what at the time was the company's largest acquisition. But it has struggled to monetize the site, despite its soaring popularity. YouTube is far and away the leading video site on the Web, boasting more than 10 billion views in September alone, and accounting for about 40 percent of the total online video market, according to comScore.

As part of its monetization push, Google has been aggressively pursuing licensing and distribution deals with entertainment companies to bring their content to YouTube and sell ads against it.

When the company reported its third-quarter earnings, Google executives talked up YouTube's promise as a fast-growing ad platform, claiming that 90 percent of the marketers of AdAge's top 50 list have run "successful" campaigns on the site.

They claimed that YouTube monetizes more than 1 billion views on its site each month.

"YouTube is on its path to profitability in the not-too-distant future," Google CFO Patrick Pichette said in October.

Most recently, YouTube began experimenting with a new ad model, offering users the option to click to skip a pre-roll ad and navigate directly to their target video. The data about which ads users skipped and which they chose to watch could provide greater insight into the ads' effectiveness, which in turn could drive up the rates YouTube can charge advertisers.