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HTML5 unfit for web TV, says Hulu

New player, same Flash

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Web-TV-streaming giant Hulu claims that HTML5 isn't ready for coding and broadcasting video on the web.

The service - America's answer to the BBC's iPlayer - released the latest version of its player built using Adobe Systems' ActionScript, saying that HTML5 is not ready for prime time.

Product video president Eugene Wei blogged that HTML5 "doesn't yet meet all of our customers' needs." The blog was unavailable at the time of writing, but you can read a cached version here.

Wei said that Hulu is contractually obliged to deliver a number of capabilities in its player, suggesting that these could not be achieved using HTML5. According to Wei:

Our player doesn't just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren't necessarily visible to the end user.

HTML5 has yet to clear the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C's) standards process, but it has already been ordained by Google. Vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra said last year "we're betting big on HTML5" while the company is offering an experimental version of YouTube built using the HTML5 video tag. Interestingly, the HTML5 version of YouTube uses the patented H.264 codec, rather than the open-source codec Ogg Theora.

With Hulu's latest player, native resolution has been boosted 25 per cent to 720x404px. There's no chrome, so there aren't any buttons to interfere with the picture. Bit-rate streaming has been introduced to adjust the steam to suit a viewer's bandwidth, while a volume normalization feature will keep the volume consistent between programs and ads. ®

Top three mobile application threats

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