With more mobile users hitting websites every day, it is increasingly important for site operators to deploy cross-platform video delivery systems. In 2014, one might think this would be a straight-forward and foolproof task, but some nagging challenges remain.
Fortunately, a range of solutions to these challenges are being developed.
Pick a player that has fallback capabilities, so that it can attempt several different methods of playback for whatever device it is running on. -Sean Green, Red Apple Media
According to Red Apple Media’s president of media services, Sean Green, the many unique demands of mobile users and the fact that the connection speed can vary so much from one device to another make Adaptive Bit Rate Streaming a must.
“It allows you to deliver the highest quality content at that particular point in time, which is especially important with mobile devices,” Green notes. “Internet connections can often be unpredictable and unreliable, especially when the user is out of his or her usual range.”
Green says that it is also very important to pick the correct player technology.
“Pick a player that has fallback capabilities, so that it can attempt several different methods of playback for whatever device it is running on,” Green told XBIZ, adding that “A new wave of responsive players has started to emerge, allowing you to have a single code base for all devices [where] the player changes how it renders and how it plays depending on the client its running on.”
One typical application is an HTML5 player that falls back to Flash when necessary.
Green explains that it is a difficult task to ensure that a video plays on every single device out there, and that to do that properly, one would need many versions of a single video clip (in different formats and different bit rates) and many variations of the player code that targets specific devices — but there is another, better way.
‘Using Adaptive Bit Rate Streaming and a flexible responsive player allows you to target a large percentage of the mobile devices out there with a single set of files and a single player script, thus reducing the complexity of your video delivery infrastructure,” Green concludes. “Other technologies such as MPEG-DASH and HTML5 hope to further simplify the task of delivering any video to any device, but we’re a ways away from that right now.”
While we all await the debut of the ultimate cross-platform video delivery system, many webmasters are forced to find their own solutions, often cobbling together bits and pieces of various technologies in search of a “one size fits all” solution.