Youtube adopts HTML5 and MSE
YouTube recently adopted HTML5 as its standard video playback technology in a move that may sound the death knell for Flash. The popular video platform has supported HTML5 since 2010 but only made the standard its official format in the last few weeks. The company is also using MPEG-DASH in browsers that support it, joining other Internet giants like Netflix who have chosen this adaptive bitrate technology.
A supporter – and developer – of HTML5 and MPEG-DASH based technologies, StreamRoot is happy to see YouTube harness these tools.
But why the change of heart?
It’s not only about the now famous HTML5 <video> tag. A couple game-changing technologies have allowed HTML5 to outperform other playout options like Flash. Let’s take a closer look at what’s changed, and more precisely at two newly standardized APIs available in HTML5: MSE and EME.
– Media Source Extensions (MSE): MSE allows players to dynamically manipulate video segments and thereby generate adaptive bitrate streams that can adjust to network conditions. Formerly unavailable in HTML5, this feature is a must-have today for any professional online broadcaster. When used in conjunction with MPEG-DASH, MSE provides efficient, segmented streaming that greatly reduces buffering time for viewers and is ideal for handling larger audiences. StreamRoot recognized the potential of MSE early on and built one of the first MSE-based video players supporting MPEG-DASH and Smooth Streaming. Seeing Youtube adopt this technology by default makes us proud to have contributed to it!
– Encrypted Media Extensions (EME): HTML5 now also supports content protection through digital rights management (DRM), hitherto an obstacle to widespread adoption – especially for platforms like YouTube. This was made possible by the release of the WC3 Encrypted Media Extension (EME). Although criticized by the open source community, EME offers a standardized way to use DRMs in HTML5. Premium video platforms and owners of rights-protected content can now get rid of heavy plugins like Flash and Silverlight. As developers, we are partial to EME, as it is much easier to integrate into a video player engine than a more cumbersome Flash proprietary DRM.
In addition to MSE and ESE, HTML5 presents other advantages such as:
– VP9: HTML5 supports the VP9 video codec (standard in Google), which significantly reduces the size of files and related buffering issues. This is a step in the right direction if YouTube plans to make widespread use of 4K and UHD video at an acceptable speed and quality.
– WebRTC: HTML5 allows YouTube to use the in-browser real-time communications tool WebRTC. Users can now capture video and webcam streams to share them with other viewers, making the experience more interactive. StreamRoot also uses WebRTC, albeit much differently, and is glad to see that the API is becoming more and more mainstream.
YouTube’s adoption of HTML5 and MPEG-DASH is a firm commitment to improving user experience and reducing buffering through state-of-the-art technologies.
Why not add StreamRoot to its list of innovative anti-network congestion solutions?
At the leading edge of HTML5 adaptive streaming technology, StreamRoot created the first MPEG-DASH peer-assisted video player in HTML5 working for both Live and Video on Demand streaming. Today we offer a peer-to-Peer API to relieve server infrastructures and bandwidth without requiring any action from the viewer.
For more information about YouTube’s switch to HTML5, check out Google’s blog.