Adaptive streaming is all the rage. Lots of clients are asking for it, and why not ? The idea that you can have a stream that 'adapts' itself to the viewer's bandwidth seems attractive, and is hardly new. Real had it in the the nineties and Microsoft in the naughties.
Now there's Apple's version, and Microsoft' latest surestream in Silverlight.
But the reality is that it is almost impossible to get this technology to work. First of all, support from CDNs is patchy, then the implementation seems fickle. Sky seems to use surestream for their service, so all you see are weird ghost images the whole time, and TVCatchup seem to suffer from a similar problem with their iPad service.
At Narrowstep we developed a multi stream service that did not try to dynamically adapt. I still believe that this is the best approach, especially when deployed with an intelligent player.
The trouble is most web based video players are dumb as hell, and whilst load of investment has gone into video management systems, the real need is for better and more intelligent players.
And not just on web tv players - TVs will soon need this intelligence just to compete.