Hulu says HTML5 won't do

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Hulu has put paid to hopes that it was preparing an HTML5 version of its video player, saying the technology simply isn't ready.

"We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn't yet meet all of our customers' needs," said product vice president Eugene Wei.

"Our player doesn't just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren't necessarily visible to the end user. Not all video sites have these needs, but for our business these are all important and often contractual requirements."

The statement came as the company announced a new version of its Flash-based player with a number of new features. It now includes adaptive bitrate streaming, altering the quality of the feed based on the user's available bandwidth to reduce the amount of buffering.

The picture size is now 25 percent bigger at 720 x 404p, and thumbnail previews have been added to the progress bar to make it easier to find the right part of a video.

A new volume normalization feature means users' eardrums won't implode when the ads come on. And the default view for the player is now chromeless, removing controls for a less cluttered appearance.

Also new is an ad personalization feature, Ad Tailor. A single box asking 'Is this ad relevant to you?' replaces the old thumbs up/thumbs down buttons.

"The new wording is deliberate since the thumbs up and down iconology might suggest that we were interested primarily in your subjective opinion of the ad creative when what’s more critical for us is understanding whether the product or service being shown is relevant to you," says Wei.

In addition, occasional ads will be replaced by an optional survey.