Will Strauss illustrates why high definition television may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Something very succinct from me this week. I just want to say - and apologies in advance if this shocks you - not everyone in this county is 100% convinced about HD.

I know Freeview is going to have HD channels. And Freesat is going to have HD channels. And Sky already has HD channels. But there may never come a time when all content is high definition. And here's why.

While there is no doubt that certain genres of programming and certain broadcasters are destined to go 100% high def, there are one or two people working within other parts of the market that are going to resist.

I was having an off-the-record briefing with a technology chief at a major broadcaster last week. And, before you dismiss this as Chinese whispers, let me assure that he is someone who should not be ignored. He admitted: when it comes to certain types of programming, high definition is a hugely disruptive technology for a programme maker. He said:

  • “A football match might get 11.2 million watching, which is phenomenal. And if you started broadcasting it in HD you'd get 11.2 million watching it. But, in the same way, if you took away HD you'd still get 11.2 million viewers. People want to hear and see the story. People listen to Radio 5 Live football coverage and there is no more low-fi way to experience broadcast sport.”

Story resolution before picture resolution

His point is that the story is still the important thing. And that viewers won't care about picture quality as long as the story is good. Just witness the popularity over the years of home video clip shows and, more recently, Youtube. It doesn't matter if footage is shot on the $100k Arricam D21 or on your mobile phone - a cat climbing backwards up a curtain is nearly always going to be funny.

To paraphrase, if the programme content does not justify the expenditure, why should it go HD?

The verdict of the technology chief means that those equipment manufacturers who think that every broadcaster in the land is going to go HD - and in turn help them to sell lots of their shiny new cameras or television sets - may need to have a little re-think.

Every viewer that expects all programmes to be HD because he or she has paid out Lord-only-knows-how-much money for an HD box and television set may be disappointed.

And every production manager who cannot make the budget work with HD may breathe a sigh of relief.

So, next time you're in a meeting discussing the acquisition format of your broadcast television programme, remember the words of my technology chief: HD is a hugely disruptive technology and it's not right for everyone.

Got an opinion on high definition for production? Have your say below.

PS Don't forget to visit my blog from the other week and give your suggestions for technology innovations of the future. There is a £700 conference ticket up for grabs.