YouTube’s 6 Reasons Why HTML5 Won’t Replace Flash, Yet

YouTube’s 6 Reasons Why HTML5 Won’t Replace Flash, Yet

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YouTube agreed with us on several points lately. We’re not sure if they knew they were doing it or not but they have. The main point is that while HTML 5 is cool and has a lot of potential, it’s not going to replace Flash very soon.

GooTube has already been hard at work porting over all their stuff so that you can watch video there via an HTML5 player, but in a blog post recently stated that Adobe’s Flash will “continue to play a critical role in video distribution” and we couldn’t agree more.

Mainly they pointed to the fact that the HTML 5 <video> tag just can’t do all the things that it would need to do in order to replace Flash fully. This has nothing to do with cool, unnecessary stuff. It has to do with many things that simply must be in place. They said it’s a step in the right direction for Open Standards but can’t do a lot of things just yet.

Here’s a quick list of things they mentioned


One of the major drawbacks yet to it replacing Flash is a video file format standard. There are numerous formats in the running but none really has a clear advantage and some have potential patent problems. Others are already being attacked by those who support one of the other formats. YouTube has been using H.264 for three years already and so their inventory is compatible with that. However, that could fall into a patent licensing problem within the next decade. Meanwhile, they have also started transcoding videos into the new WebM as well. I guess one might say that they’re hedging their bets.

Being part of Google, they of course love webM, right? Chrome, Mozilla and Opera have support for it in one form or another and IE 9 will as well. Since Adobe is also on the VP8 bandwagon it could become the clear winner as you would only need one version of your files for all players.


The HTML 5 <video> tag lacks the fine control that we have with other forms of video. With local video you can almost instantly jump to any part of that file you want to watch. This just doesn’t work right now with HTML 5 they say. You have very little fine control over buffering and dynamic quality control. Flash allows it through “the downloading and playback of video via Actionscript in conjunction with either HTTP or the RTMP video streaming protocol” while HTML 5 does not do this at all right now.

Wrap it before you use it – Content Protection.

In some circles, DRM is a dirty word… in others, it’s the only way they will allow their content to be streamed. YouTube has many clients that require some form of protection and so they need it, especially if they’re going to be streaming LIVE pay events, renting videos and full-length films. Flash has RTMPE and HTML 5 does not. Nuff said?

Pack it up, Spread it around

Or as they called it encapsulation and embedding. YouTube states that Flash is the only mechanism that most sites will allow to embed content from another site. HTML 5? Nope. So what this does is allows web sites to keep private data private but also allow access to the content and player functionality (subtitles, annotations and all those cool things you can do with YouTube).


With the rush of High-definition content to the streaming space, who wants to watch a postage stamp sized video on their monster LCD TV? With Flash, you can watch it full screen, with HTML…well, it’s sort of problematic for some technical reasons. Sure, full screen is doable in a browser, but full screen for a single HTML element, like say a <video> tag? Nope!

Add it up, smack it down, push it together

Video commenting is all the rage. YouTube says that “every day, thousands of users record videos directly to YouTube from within their browser using webcams, which would not be possible without Flash technology.”

That access also works for live video chat, live broadcasting and all sorts of online video that’s streamed live. Video and sound can easily be captured with Flash and a camera/ microphone. Not so much with HTML 5 yet. Perhaps one day, but I imagine it’ll be a few years at least.

So there you have it folks, straight from the world’s second largest search engine and largest video sharing site…Flash ain’t goin nowhere…bub!


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