It seems like the end of an era and maybe it is, given that so much of the video content on the internet either originates from, or ends up on, Youtube. Starting this week, the Google-owned video streaming service will say goodbye to using the Adobe Flash player as their default streaming medium and will now move to using HTML5 instead to promote better standards adoption and improve security. However, while Flash is now the ugly ducking of the internet, there’s still no consensus from the browser market about how to navigate around this.

HTML5 has been an optional standard for Youtube since 2010, with some browsers natively supporting it and others mostly doing it half-heartedly (Mozilla still relegates HTML5 playback to their beta browsers only). It recently was signed off by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG [I’m serious, that’s what they chose!] ) on 28 October 2014, so its only been a few short months since the standard was finalized.

Youtube’s reasons for moving forward to HTML5 mainly boil down to increased security and greater control over how people access the content. HTML5 allows for newer, leaner DRM technologies to be deployed to stop people recording or downloading video and it may also assist the Youtube community in bypassing ad blockers in order to receive advertising revenue for their work. Some other major streaming services, namely Hulu and Netflix, currently either use Flash or Silverlight, two standards that are mostly circling the drain in terms of actual use. Hopping over to HTML5 would enable them to make their services better and snappier and less resource intensive.

If you’re on a capped account, the switch also benefits you in terms of bandwidth use. HTML5 on Youtube will support Google’s VP9 video codec in place of H.264, which saves you on the order of 35% in bandwidth usage. It also allows for on-the-fly bitrate adjustment, similar to how Netflix seamlessly starts out a stream at a low resolution and increases the quality as it consumes more bandwidth.


Currently Google Chrome and Chromium, Internet Explorer 11, OS X Safari 8 and Opera’s latest browser all support, at least partially, the fill HTML5 standard. Firefox only supports HTML5 inside the beta and nightly builds as well as the developer version of the browser. Though Chrome and Chromium still have their own Flash engine built-in, you still still need Flash player installed to properly interact with other websites which aren’t compliant with modern standards.

Source: Youtube Blog

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