June 29, 2010
YouTube talks Flash and HTML5
The folks at YouTube have put up an informative post about why, despite positive advances in what browsers support, “Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube’s video distribution requirements.”
Of course, Flash is at death’s door, right? I suppose you didn’t hear that ESPN just streamed the US-Algeria World Cup match via Flash to “the largest U.S. audience ever for a sports event on the web,” with 1.1 million unique viewers. Through 14 days of World Cup coverage, 5 million viewers have watched the World Cup on ESPN3.com and consumed more than 9.2 million total hours. Somehow the Mac sites fail to notice these things. (Actually, that few people notice is a good thing: billions of times a month, Flash just works.)
I’m sure someone will point out that Hulu will be streaming video to iPads without using Flash as the presentation layer, so now Flash is screwed, haw haw. In that case, let me repeat what I said a few months ago:
John Gruber wrote the other day that “Hulu isn’t a Flash site, it’s a video site. Developers go where the users are.” Well sure, of course they do. Flash is a means to an end for Adobe, too, not the end unto itself.
The folks at Hulu, like those at YouTube, are pragmatists. They’ll use whatever delivery mechanisms, presentation layers, etc. they need to reach the most eyeballs. On desktops Hulu prefers Flash, for the same reasons YouTube cites. (Even if more than 13% of the audience could play back H.264-format video on their desktops without using a plug-in, the browsers are lacking in content protection & other vital areas.) On mobile devices, Flash Player’s support for H.264 (and later VP8) makes it easy to use an alternate player to display the same video files.
I’m not saying all this to rile people up. I just get tired of all the uninformed rah-rah triumphalism out there, so I thought I’d help share some real-world perspectives.