Online Video: Keep It Simple, Just Use Flash

Here’s another online news pet peeve: news and other media sites that force me to use some silly, buggy player rather than simply embedding Flash video in their pages. These days, I don’t think it makes sense to offer online video if the experience of watching, linking to, and sharing it is any more complicated than YouTube.

Here’s what I mean:

  • CNN video requires the latest Windows Media 9 player plugin, which despite repeated attempts I couldn’t get to install on my brand-new Intel-powered Mac.
  • CBS News requires either Windows Media or RealPlayer — but even though I have RealPlayer installed and it works fine with other sites, it won’t play CBS News videos for me.
  • MSNBC video plays just fine — but in a separate MSN Video window which I can’t link to directly. Same with ABC News and Fox News.
  • The PBS series Moyers on America requires me to download a mysteriously unspecified plugin to watch episode trailers.
  • Finally, I’d bet that the Daily Show and Colbert Report wouldn’t get ripped off on YouTube nearly as much if Comedy Central’s video player wasn’t such a royal pain.

If you want to put video online, please make it as simple as possible on your online audience. Just use Flash. It plays well on any platform and browser. The plugin isn’t buggy. You can present it so people can link to it.

Need more convincing? Check out any washingtonpost.com video — they use Flash. Need more background and information? Read Tom Green’s The Rise of Flash Video.

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