thePlatform (s CMCSA) is pushing cross-platform compatibility with a new offering that will let its customers create one video player that can be delivered to any device or browser that is trying to access it. That capability is being rolled out due to increased demand for HTML5 video, despite a lack of real standards across browsers for the display and rendering of video players.
“The big thing that has changed… is that just about every media company has an HTML5 player out or on their roadmap,” thePlatform CEO Ian Blaine told me in a phone interview. “I can’t think of a single company that hasn’t adopted HTML5 as part of its mix.”
Blaine says that HTML5 has better cross-device support than other options, especially when you take iOS devices into account. The problem is that, although the HTML5 video tag is widely supported amongst all modern browsers, it’s also rendered differently depending on which browser a viewer is using, and in some cases, on which version of a browser that’s being used. That means that publishers frequently have to put extra effort into setting up HTML5 players to ensure that they work as designed.
It’s that sort of individual browser tweaking that thePlatform hopes to eliminate with video players that will work in any browser. Customers can build players with the thePlatform’s Player Dev Kit and view changes in a real-time preview pane. And once a customer has customized its player, it will work over a number of platforms without any further development necessary. thePlatform’s smart player will automatically detect the device and browser being used and automatically serve up the correct video assets in Flash or HTML5 depending on the viewing environment.
thePlatform’s offering also has one advantage over some other video players, in that it has figured out how to make mid-roll ads work in HTML5, which has proven to be a stumbling block for some publishers. According to Blaine, that meant publishers were either stuck monetizing their content only with pre-rolls — which basically was leaving money on the table — or stitching ads into the videos, which removed the ability to serve up dynamic or targeted video ads, neither of which was an acceptable outcome.