For those of us working to develop MPEG-DASH, Apple’s recent support of the W3C’s Media Source Extensions (MSE) API in Safari on OS X Yosemite is great news. MSE and DASH have a complementary relationship, and expanded support for MSE will make it much easier for publishers to adopt DASH.
While MSE itself is designed to be media container format neutral, one of the primary container format recommendations made in the specification is compatible with the ISO Base Media File Format (ISO BMFF) “fragmented MP4” profile of MPEG-DASH. At this time, MSE implementations in most desktop browsers (Chrome, IE, Safari) are available and support the ISO BMFF container. Firefox is also working on compatible implementations, which are already partially available in their development branches.
The widespread support for the ISO BMFF container is mainly driven by the influence of Netflix’s content library, which is built around an ISO BMFF container. Although browser vendors may or may not feel that ISO BMFF MPEG-DASH is the best way to deliver content, the requirement to support DASH in order to receive content from a major content provider will ensure continued support for this container.
Creating a broad footprint of available clients is one of the main things slowing down adoption of DASH. We here at Adobe announced our support for DASH in our Adobe Primetime video stack and demonstrated it at this year’s NAB Show. Primetime will support DASH using an ISO BMFF container, and it will work everywhere our video engine runs, including Flash in the browser, Android, Roku, RDK-based set-top boxes, and many other platforms. Primetime’s DASH implementation will also include complete support for all of the capabilities that we offer in HLS today, including DRM and ad insertion, making it even easier for publishers to adopt DASH.
Between increasing support for DASH using MSE in desktop browsers, and support for DASH on many other platforms using Primetime, we are nearing a point where it is easy to deploy video players to consume DASH content. With the availability of client endpoints, it will make more sense for publishers to adopt DASH for their delivery workflows. This won’t happen overnight, but clearing this significant hurdle positions the digital video ecosystem to truly embrace MPEG-DASH.