In today’s highly digital world, publishers have a lot on their plates already. Content, marketing, metrics, contracts, monetization–and the list goes on. In recent years, online video has grown explosively. Relatedly, with video streaming rising 72.4% between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, publishers today have even more to keep track of. As a result, professional users need an online video player is fast, works on all devices, and supports custom branding.
Given those digital trends, you need an all-device video player with all the features necessary for professional video delivery.
In this blog post, we’ll review the four most popular online video player options: THEOplayer, Flowplayer, JW Player, and Bitmovin. After that review, we’ll provide our recommendation for the best online video player from available streaming solutions. In short, we’ll do the hard work for you, so you can focus on the creative and business side of your video endeavors.
Now, let’s turn to our review of four popular online video players on the market today.
Online Video Player Review: 4 Most-Popular Options
First up, THEOplayer is a leading online video player today. In fact, it’s been recognized as the best video player and SDK solution for the last three years. In particular, this option offers a fast startup time and high performance. Of particular note, THEOplayer uses the latest HTML5 technology. In addition, the company constantly updates its technology for speed and new functionality. As THEOplayer writes,
We deliver the most performant video playback technology: superior viewer experience in terms of latency, start-up time, seeking time, etc. and the most advanced feature set and functionalities. Our best-of-breed approach with a stable and constantly updated integration framework facilitates the player deployment in the ecosystem of the media companies.
THEOplayer comes with a wide range of features, including:
- Adaptive playback of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS)
- Video-on-Demand, Live, and 30-Minute Live DVR
- Support for HTML5 streaming, no plugins necessary
- Chapter Markers
- UI or fully chromeless depending on specific needs
- Server-Side Ad Insertion
- Multi-audio tracks
- Closed Caption Support: CEA608/708, WebVTT, TTML
- Trick play: slow-motion and high-speed playback
- Frame accurate seeking
- Video monetization via advertising
Next up in our review, let’s consider the Flowplayer online video player. First, Flowplayer is one of the most deployed online video players in the world. It’s lightweight and powerful. Like THEOplayer, Flowplayer utilizes HTML5 technology and supports any modern device. For example, these include smart TVs, consoles, phones, tablets, computers, and more.
In 2019, Flowplayer merged with video advertising company Thirdpresence. The newly merged company is developing a focus on video advertising and streaming. Today, it describes its service in this way:
Founded in 2007, Flowplayer provides a video player and platform for digital media publishers to deliver superior video and live streaming experiences. The platform offers the fastest loading and most customizable video player, advanced real-time analytics, and the most sophisticated live streaming service.
Other features of Flowplayer include:
- Fast load times
- Developer-friendly HTML5 video API
- Customizable white-label player, with templates
- Open-source platform
- Chromecast and AppleTV support
- Basic DRM
In addition to a video player, Flowplayer also offers some video hosting and live streaming solutions. These offerings are relatively expensive, however. Overall, they don’t compare well to our final recommendation. Keep on reading for that option below.
3. JW Player
Next in our review, the third online video player we’ll examine here is JW Player. JW Player is a longtime competitor in this field. In fact, the company provided the video player for early versions of YouTube! Today, JW Player offers a video streaming platform in addition to an online video player.
On its website, JW Player describes its OVP offering as follows:
Live on over 2 million sites with 1.3 billion unique plays per month, JW Player is the solution for seamless video playback across browsers and media types. It empowers the developer to interact with video programmatically to create unique and awesome user experiences.
Features of JW Player include, for example:
- HTML5 video player (you know the story by now: all-device support)
- Fast playback and loading time
- VOD and live streaming support
- HLS and MPEG-DASH protocols supported (commercial version only)
- Video player APIs and mobile SDKs
- Mobile-optimized design, customizable UI
- Ad-integration and support for major ad networks
- 360º and VR video support
Overall, JW Player is a powerful online video player. However, as a video hosting platform, JW Player is still a relatively new entrant to the market. In summary, the service still has a long way to go. As a result, this option is not yet suitable for every business model.
Finally, the last online video player we’ll compare here comes from Bitmovin. Bitmovin is an online video company that offers a variety of services. The video player is one of them. This is how Bitmovin describes itself:
Bitmovin is a leading provider of video software and cloud infrastructure for online media companies and enterprises globally. Bitmovin technology innovations focus on video encoding, playback, and analytics around user experiences. Innovations include the co-authoring of the MPEG-DASH streaming protocol and the first commercial HTML5 MPEG-DASH player, as well as massively parallel cloud-native API-driven encoding, featuring the first commercial AV1 next-generation codec.
Among other features, key features of the Bitmovin video player include:
- HLS and MPEG-DASH support
- Multi-device and multi-OS support
- SDKs for mobile and smart TV devices
- DRM support
- Advertising support
- Customizable player interface
- Low-latency streaming
How to Choose the Best OVP For You
Ultimately, choosing an online video player depends on your specific needs. If you have hyper-specific requirements, for example, you may need to do some additional, feature-specific research. Relatedly, you may require some additional technical expertise to implement a custom video player for your content.
Why THEOplayer is Our Top Pick as an Online Video Player
Here at Dacast, our business centers on providing live streaming and video hosting solutions. For this reason, we haven’t built our own video player. We’ve chosen what we think is the best online video player currently available: THEOplayer. And we’ve integrated it with our service, offering THEOplayer to all Dacast users—for free.
To recap, THEOplayer is a fully white-label, HTML5 video player compatible with all devices. It also comes with numerous SDKs for easy integration with mobile video apps. Its design is very easy, simple and yet still highly customizable. Even better, THEOplayer comes with tons of cool features (see above).
All that said, that’s why Dacast partners with THEOplayer. By doing so, we can offer our users the best video player while keeping down our own staff and development. That way, we can pass those savings on to the users. In fact, that’s one reason why Dacast is among the most cost-competitive advanced video hosting platforms available.
Dacast’s Video Hosting and Video Player Solution
As we describe above, the Dacast HTML5 video player is based on THEOplayer. However, we’ve expanded its functionality by adding our own Dacast platform features. Of course, these features build on the native functionality of THEOplayer. Overall, they allow for more advanced use-cases, easier monetization, and more. Among other aspects, unique features of the Dacast video player solution include:
- Calls-to-Action (CTA) support inside the video player
- Paywall supporting pay per view and subscriptions
- Alpha (transparency) support
- Native video scaling (no letterboxing)
- Mail catcher “soft” paywall to capture user emails
Of course, this is just a brief introduction to the video player and hosting functionality available to Dacast users!
To wrap things up, a modern online video player is essential for streaming media publishers. And with Dacast and THEOplayer, it’s now possible to gain easy access to a class-leading online video player.
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Whatever your goals, we hope this article has updated you on the top online video players available today. If you have further questions or thoughts, feel free to leave us a comment below. Finally, are you looking for more live streaming tips, industry networking opportunities, and exclusive offers? If so, you can also join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and happy broadcasting.