Think Flash is Dead? Think Again

So here I am preparing for an upcoming session at Streaming Media West entitled Encoding 2015: Codecs and Packaging for PCs, Mobile and OTT/STB/Smart TVs, and I wanted to determine the current market share of MSE and EME capable browsers.

I started with a quick trip over to NetMarketshare where I displayed the Desktop Browser Version Market Share and copied all versions with a share of around 1% or higher to the table shown below. I know that NetMarketShare gets criticized for showing an extraordinarily high percentage of Internet Explorer users, but I recently compared these statistics with the logs of a large corporate consulting client and found the market share to be in the ballpark. Then I went to the JW Player website to determine which browser versions support MSE and EME. Since IE 11 only supports MSE/EME on Windows 8+, I limited that browser to 19.5% in those columns because that’s the current market share of Windows 8+ according to NetMarketShare. 


Looking at the table, you can see that the market share of the included browsers totalled around 88%. I scanned those versions that I didn’t include, and most were older versions that wouldn’t support the HTML5 V1 video tag, much less MSE/EME. 

Speaking of the video tag, around 76% of all browsers support that today, and all of the browsers shown should support H.264 playback on Windows 7 and later. Turning this around, if you rely upon HTML5 for single file delivery to desktop browsers, you lose around 24% of potential viewers if you don’t provide some form of fallback for non-HTML5-compatible browsers. 

If you elect to deliver DASH-encoded files via the Media Source Extensions, you can reach around 51% of desktop viewers today, which drops to around 45% if you need EME-enabled DRM protection. Again, if you don’t elect for some kind of fallback to Flash or Silverlight, then you lose 49% of the viewers. I know it’s terribly au courant to say that Flash sucks, but if you look at these statistics, it’s pretty clear that if you don’t want to exclude substantial percentages of viewers, you better incorporate some form of Flash or other plug-in based fallback into your delivery schema.

There may be ways to improve these HTML5-only numbers by using the right off-the-shelf player, which is an issue that I’ll be discussing in my session. All this and more in my Monday session at Streaming Media West. I hope to see you there. 

About Jan Ozer

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I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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