Virtually all commercial digital video content is stored and distributed using the MPEG-2 encoding standard introduced about 12 years ago. Although this standard enabled a large increase in the number of programs that could be carried in access networks, the capacity of those networks has not kept up with the explosion of content and the increased bandwidth requirement for high definition. The introduction of switched access networks, both HFC and IP, will help alleviate that bottleneck and allow the introduction of new clients that make use of the more efficient MPEG-4 part 10 (a.k.a. H.264) encoding standard. The challenge in realizing these gains, however, will depend on transcoding technology that is both cost effective and maintains the quality of the originally distributed program.