The Emergence of HTML5 Video

HTML5 Video

HTML5 has entered the online video market, which is both exciting and challenging for developers in the industry. With both the HTML5 specification and the various browser implementations in constant flow, we should have enough time understanding the limitations of the technology, testing playback across various browsers and devices, and optimizing our own products for HTML5 playback.

The Current State of HTML5 video

It is often difficult to get a solid take of this, due to the major discrepancies between the leading data sources, StatCounter and NetMarketShare specifically. Current market shares also vary greatly between different geographic locations.

Not suprisingly there is still a need for Flash even though 2/3 of the market is already supporting HTML5. On the desktop, Internet Explorer 6/7/8 make up a large percent of the market share (28%), and are here to stay for a few more years. Since they do not support HTML5, alternatives like Flash remain critical for video playback. As for the other browsers, their entire install base is already supporting HTML5 video.

Mobile phones and tablets have emerged as a new category over the last few years. Currently, only the iOS and Android market shares are relevant.ppo Both surt HTML5 video. Android still supports Flash, but as announced recently, future phones will not have the flash plugin.

Half of the browsers support MP4, the other half support WebM. One of the biggest challenges with HTML5 is the fragmented support for audio/video formats.

MP4 support may drop dramatically when Chrome officially drops MP4. Although this was announced back in January 2011, it still not happened, which makes it hard to predict.Every browser supports the tag for loading multiple sources.

Both iOS and Android only support MP4 video. This will remain the case for any mobile device, until WebM decoders are built into hardware and integrated in to phones. See the WebM blog for progress on that effort.

Most of videos tag attributes are supported. The HTML5 video tag supports several attributes, and most are already supported to date across the various browsers and devices.

Some mixed fullscreen options are available. Fullscreen video enhances the visual experience and increases viewer engagement. HTML5 support fullscreen playback is still in its infancy.

While iOS remains as the only platform with adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming is a core component of online video. It enables buffer control, mid-stream quality adjustments, live/dvr streaming and security through encryption and/or DRM. Adaptive streaming is not part of the HTML5 specification, but browsers can support it by loading manifests from an HTML5 tag.

When it comes to accessibility none of the browsers support fully-featured accessibility in HTML5. Since HTML5 is native to browsers, it can achieve a greater level of accessibility than plugins like Flash. In order to make a video accessible it must be controllable using the keyboard, and must render closed captions and audio descriptions. The latter are enabled through the HTML5
element.

Benefits of HTML 5 Video

Major video platforms like Youtube and Vimeo have had supported html5 video. But it’s primed to be something that everyone ends up using, and that would be a great thing. Flash video performs terribly on Mac OS X and Linux, and on the few mobile devices that do support it, playback is uniformly terrible. And generally speaking, it’s a plug-in. We whine about having to install Silverlight to use Bing Maps or watch some kinds of video, but it’s a plugin the same way that Flash is.

HTML5 allows certain types of video to be rendered in the browser natively, like JPEGs or GIFs are now. It’s an objectively simpler, more efficient solution, and disregarding the massive infrastructure built up around Flash video, it would be the obvious choice.

Luckily, YouTube videos are rendered in a HTML5-friendly h.264 format. With help from smaller sites like Vimeo, the trend seems to indicate the end of Flash video.

Why Your Business Needs to Start Using HTML5

Devon Copley, managing director for media and entertainment for Kaltura, the first open source video platform, is quoted here describing the audience that only HTML5 video can reach:

The HTML5 video universe is characterized by mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. In short, there’s a new breed of online video consumers: it’s not the desktop video user of yore; instead, it’s somebody sitting on the sofa with an iPad or on a train or a bus with an Android phone. It’s a different setting, it’s a different set of people, it’s a different consumption experience, and it requires a different approach, said Copley.

There are a number of ways to access this audience but they all have their drawbacks. Obviously, mobile apps are a particularly immersive and high-quality way to reach out to this audience, but there’s an enormous barrier to actually get people to download an app and install it, Copley advised.

Copley also cited high app development costs, including the need to create apps for multiple devices and platforms, as a reason to turn to HTML5 video delivery instead.

Even if you’re selling premium, long-form content, your customers aren’t going to pay $4.99 to see it unless they can see a trailer first, and they’re not going to be able to see a trailer first unless you make that available in HTML5 video, said Copley.