Brightcove Embraces HTML5, Passes On Theora Support

Brightcove recently announced that they're on the HTML 5 bandwagon (yah team!) and that they're now offering  HTML5 compatibility for their clients. They call HTML5 implementation cost-prohibitive which makes me wonder just how much work it would be to implement it. I think I smell an article idea.

If anything is cost prohibitive it's the intricacies of Flash and the fact that you have to purchase programs and licenses to make stuff (plus have someone capable of doing it). HTML5 on the other hand is readily and openly available (we even have some HTML 5  how-to's here at ReelSEO). But still a very long way away. Brightcove's solution is to default to Flash but allow for HTML5 when supported or necessary (as in Apple iPhone/Pad).

In my opinion, Brightcove, like most of the others that are announcing support for HTML5, is not acting as a friend to the Open Source movement by going with H.264 encoding and not adding support for Theora.

They chose H.264, I'm betting, because of the limitations of the Theora codec and lack of tools, however, they should still be able to offer the option right?  I mean, they're all tech savvy types over there and I'm certain they could have managed with the available tools to incorporate it into their service. But whatever for right? They get paid to host and distribute videos, so why bother when they probably already have H.264 in place. Though, if they want to hit the widest range of browsers one would expect them to support all of them.

Really it doesn't affect me one way or another. I won't jump ship on my browser of choice just so I can watch HTML 5 videos. Flash works just fine for me thanks even if it does hog resources from time to time. I just would like to see HTML be a truly open standard and H.264 has the potential to not be at a later date even though at present we've got another 5-years of license free usage.

For those that doubt me here's the Wiki link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264

In countries where patents on software algorithms are upheld, vendors and commercial users of products which make use of H.264/AVC are expected to pay patent licensing royalties for the patented technology that their products use.

On February 2, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264-encoded Internet Video that is free to end users would continue to be exempt from royalty fees until at least December 31, 2015. However, other fees remain in place. The license terms are updated in 5-year blocks.

That bolded statement means, if you make people pay for your H.264-encoded video content online, you should be paying a licensing fee. That could be a potential rift in the online video community.

MPEG LA patents will not expire on H.264 until at least 2028. A long way away from 2015, though there could be an endless line of extensions…could be.

The iPad is the driving force behind this sudden HTML 5 implementation according to the Brightcove Site:

The Brightcove Online Video Platform: Ready for HTML5 and the iPad

The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 solution eliminates these challenges by delivering a high quality, interactive and fully monetizable video experience to viewers on HTML5-capable devices.

Ready for Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

Reduce the cost and complexity of delivering and monetizing video on current and future generations of Apple devices that support the HTML5 standard. Deliver the best possible video experience to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users.

Hey at $500 a month it should do all that and more right? Well it does. However, there is a caveat as only  "An early version of the automatic device detection and HTML5 player template are available in the Brightcove Developer Center. Additional capabilities will be provided in future versions released throughout 2010." So it's not really a full implementation yet, really that's OK since HTML5 isn't even a set standard yet, and won't be for years I bet. But if the iPad is the driving force behind this all then they're going to be a little late as it's set for launch on 3 April and they've only got early versions ready.

The HTML 5 templates at Brightcove include:

  • Automatic Device Detection
  • Native HTML5 Player Templates – multi-title playlists, tracking, sharing, ads and more
  • H.264 transcoding – with multiple resolutions and bit rates

See, that's all pretty snazzy stuff (to steal Mark's word of the week). Of course, you have to pay to play and it's only available at no charge to customers with subscriptions to Brightcove Professional, Enterprise, and Express $499 editions.

Seriously, I can't help but hope for the iPad to fall completely flat on its tablet-y face, but that's just me. I'm not anti-Apple (I love my iPhone!) I'm just anti-sensationalist and corporate hype.


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About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Dave

    Chris, I'm in the same iBoat as you – iPad is an unimpressive device for me. I too have an iPhone, and edit using Final Cut Studio on my MacBook Pro, so I'm by no means an Apple-hater.

    I'm planning to wade through the hype posted by technobloggers and Apple (are you kidding? you really want me to buy a "magical" device? I bet you have some snake oil medicine to sell me too). I'll sit it out until some people are buying, using, and reviewing the device in the real world.

  • skoegler

    So, does Brightcove's HTML5 support mean that I can render my content in FLV, upload to Brightcove, and it will be available on Apple devices? Doesn't this violate the Apple NEH (not encoded here) mandate that is causing problems between Apple and Adobe? Or is this the silver bullet that renders the argument moot? After all, if Brightcove can get away with it, why can't others? And if the price of subscription for Brightcove is too much, there are surely others who would be happy to jump in.
    What am I missing?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      Im not sure Im aware of Apple NEH.. Is there somewhere I can view this.
      Brightcove is encoding files (as are many others) in H.264 which can play
      back on apple devices…

      • Scott Koegler

        Apple NEH is my interpretation of their policy to only use their own encoders. I understood that cross-compiling or doing anything other than directly encoding to H.264 was against policy. Otherwise, what's the issue? Any original Flash creation could be re-encoded for Apple devices. Right?

        • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

          Interesting. That would mean that taking a wmv, mov, etc… and transcoding
          to H.264 would be off limits, correct?

        • Scott Koegler

          Right. Thats exactly my understanding. All content must ORIGINATE in Apple sanctioned formats.

        • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

          but content out of most camcorders is compressed to begin with so I dont
          know how that would work.

        • Scott Koegler

          I'll look for the quote. I think it was an 'exchange' between Jobs and Adobe. And I'm not certain how the Apple OS would know, actually. The main target for this was content developed in Flash. Apple wants content developed exclusively for its platform, not sloppy seconds converted from Flash.

        • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

          very interesting. well let me know if you find that… Thanks for the
          comment Scott

        • Scott Koegler

          Here's where I got what I interpreted as Apple's desire to not transcode. As I look at it, I'm thinking Jobs is talking mostly about Flash games, but it's not clear to me. Personally, this kind of thing is why I don't own a single Apple device.

          From Job's 'Thoughts on Flash":
          "We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

          This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.

          Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X."

        • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

          Jobs drives me nuts…

        • Scott Koegler

          I agree. But I leave him to mind his own world.

        • Stu Willis

          The 'Thoughts on Flash' is to do with *writing apps* on Flash and compiling them to run under iOS, nothing to do with video.

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