Video Essentials

HTML5 Vs. Flash

When should you use HTML5 video and when should you use Flash Video?

If you’re presenting online video, you want to be sure everyone can see it no matter their platform, device, or browser. While HTML5 video is a simpler solution, it doesn’t have all the features of Flash. Deciding between the two formats can be tricky.

As part of a series called “Ten Digital Trends for 2011,” presented by Click Here, Inc, the digital marketing division of The Richards Group, Randy Bradshaw, Click Here’s director of technology, examined the differences between Flash and HTML5.

“It will most likely take some time before [HMTL5] is ‘ready for prime time,’” Bradshaw writes. He also notes that, for audio and video delivery, HTML5 “significantly reduces download times and, theoretically, reduces the load on the CPU.”

To help you decide one whether you should use Flash or HMTL5, Bradshaw offers these tips (quoted with permission):

When to Consider HTML5:

  • Mobile: Content for smart phones is a great opportunity to leverage HTML5 as most of the Web browsers shipping on these devices offer excellent support for the new technology.
  • Video/Audio Streaming (non-DRM): If the content you’re streaming is not proprietary in nature and does not require rights management, HTML5 is a great option for providing that content with very small overhead.
  • iOS: If your target audience includes the iPad or other iOS-based devices, you’ll want to leverage HTML5 to enrich your message.

When to Stick with Flash:

  • Non-Mobile Effort: When the mobile demographic is NOT a significant target for your message.
  • Webcams: If you need more advanced access features to your computer itself, Flash works best (webcam, computer clipboard, etc.). Augmented reality experiences are a great example of this type of functionality.
  • Video/Audio Streaming (DRM): When you need to protect the rights-managed content you’re streaming to prevent pirating, sharing or unauthorized downloading of that content.
  • Experiential Sites: When your design dictates a more immersive, interactive experience for your visitor.

You can view the entire trend report at Click Here’s site.



Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Sure, HTML5 video is still young, but it’s coming around quickly. There’s a lot we can do with Javascript to add in features that browser developers haven’t added yet.

    RE: “significantly reduces download times”. He must just be talking about the download time of the video player. It’s not going to speed up the download of the video itself.

    Posted by Heff | December 21, 2010, 11:52 am
  2. For streaming video/audio, the only browser that really supports it is Safari/iOS. The video tag currently does not support RTSP or the HTTP live streaming spec (HLS). Until then, live streaming is a non-starter unless your target is Mac or iPad/iPhone.


    Posted by Forest Johns | December 21, 2010, 12:10 pm
  3. What about ad and reporting integrations. Much of the 3rd party video systems are claiming they support HTML5 but when you dig down, you will see its loose at best. These systems require you to use their own reporting, ad integration etc. There are many video sites that are need/required to use 3rd party systems such as Comscore, Nielson, Freewheel. What do you do then? HTML5 is fairly fragmented, but this will eventually be fixed.

    Posted by Matt | December 21, 2010, 5:42 pm
  4. I’ve i’m not mistaken, chrome, firefox and ie9 all support html5, not just safari, in addition as someone mentioned java can add security features.

    On top of all that, the quality of stream and the better compression of h.264 in a mpg4 container, offers vastly better streaming performance and quality over flash. As well as offering a proper downloadable movie, which flash is not.

    Posted by Luke | December 21, 2010, 8:52 pm
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