Yesterday I announced a webinar titled Adaptive Streaming to Desktops and Mobile via HTTP Live Streaming (HLS): A Simple Approach; No Coding Required (more info here), which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28th, at 2:00 PM EST. Here’s the back story on why, and why you might be interested in attending.
It’s pretty much accepted that adaptive streaming is the optimal technique for delivering to mobile and desktop viewers watching on a diverse range of devices and connection speeds. The question IS, which adaptive technology? After all, while Flash covers 96%+ on the desktop, Flash-based technologies are nowhere on mobile. While Apple’s HLS is great for iOS devices, and some Android, it’s nowhere on the desktop. Sure, you could install a Wowza Media server and transmux from one format to the other, but that was technically complex. And you still needed a simple way to encode your source files into the chunks and metadata files required for HLS.
While Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) shows promise as a technology that could unify all these adaptive streaming standards into one, it made little tangible progress. And unless and until Apple agreed to support the spec, which they still haven’t, DASH would merely supplant Flash on the desktop, with HLS still necessary for mobile. It still wouldn’t provide a unified standard. As a non-programmer myself, there didn’t appear to be an accessible and affordable way to deliver adaptive streams to mobile and desktop viewers.
The nickel started dropping when JW Player announced that their namesake player could allow desktop computers with Flash installed to play HLS streams. That meant one format (HLS) to desktop and mobile viewers. It’s a story that I covered for Streaming Media, but the question that I didn’t ask at the time was whether you had to be a coder to use the JW Player. More on that in a moment.
Then I wrote a story on producing HLS for the Streaming Media Sourcebook, which should appear in April, 2014. I realized that you could produce HLS compatible files on tools as inexpensive as Apple Compressor ($49.99), though Sorenson Squeeze, which offered both the MainConcept and x264 codecs, was a better option.
Recognizing that there were several inexpensive, easy-to-use option to encode HLS file, I asked the folks at JW Player how hard it was to add their player to a web page. It turns out that JW Player provides a simple wizard that can deliver an embed code that you paste into the page’s HTML. Basically, if you know how to an embed a YouTube video into a web page, you can add the JW Player to your website.
Once you’ve done this, you can deliver an adaptive HLS experience to Flash-based desktops, iOS devices, and some Android devices, with fallback to a progressively downloaded MP4 file for older Android devices. And you don’t have to be a programmer to do any of this. You do need to buy the Premium version of the JW Player ($299), and have an encoding tool like Sorenson Squeeze ($549), but neither is a lot of money, and neither is technically complex.
So, here’s what I’ll cover in the webinar:
– What adaptive streaming is and why it’s the preferred approach.
– What HLS is and what you need to implement it.
– How to produce HLS streams with Sorenson Squeeze, Apple Compressor and other tools.
– How the JW Player enables desktop computers with Flash installed to play back HLS streams.
– How to configure and deploy the JW Player via simple embedding controls in your own web pages.
I’ll be presenting, with Jeroen Wijering of JW Player and a representative from Sorenson Media available to answer any technical questions. Spend an hour with us, and learn how you can simply and affordably provide an adaptive streaming experience to mobile and desktop viewers via HLS. I hope to see you there.