If you’re a podcaster, or thinking about becoming a podcaster, Apple has issued a series of tips for improving performance of podcasts on Apple TV. If you’ve used the AppleTV for watching podcasts its clear that some shows load more efficiently than others, but I hope that, over time, a standard is developed that produces great quality podcasts that load quickly.
Apple’s tips include:
Recommendations to help you create the best possible experience for users:
1. Apple TV viewers are immediately aware of video quality. If you encode your video podcast at 320×240, we strongly encourage you to increase the resolution to 640×480 or 640×360 (depending on the aspect ratio of your source files). When encoded well, video podcasts at this resolution look great on Apple TV and still play on iPhone and video-compatible iPods. To ensure compatibility, we recommend that you encode using QuickTime’s “Movie to iPod” preset or Compressor’s “Apple > Apple Devices > H.264 for iPod video and iPhone 640×480″ preset.
2. When you perform the final encode on your video, enable fast starting. Most recent versions of QuickTime enable this setting automatically. But it’s easy to undo the setting by making changes to the file after the encode. If you do make a change after the encode, be sure to “Save As” again.
3. Apple TV displays a large version of the podcast art (the file referenced in the tag). We recommend that you use a 600×600 square JPG or PNG file.
4. Several new introductory video tutorials have been developed for iTunes, including one for podcasts. If your web site offers how-to information for new podcast users, please consider linking to it.
For those hosting podcasts on their own servers, consider the following recommendations:
5. To reduce wait times, iTunes and Apple TV use byte-range requests in some circumstances. For example, Apple TV 2.0 employs this functionality when the user accesses the podcast directly over the Internet. We recommend hosting episode files on HTTP/1.1 servers that correctly support the HTTP byte-range request specification.
6. Please ensure that your HTTP servers return the correct MIME types in the Content-Type header. Failing to do so can create errors. A list of MIME types can be found in the iTunes podcast technical spec.