The Definitive Guide to HTML5 Video Players (+ Best 15 HTML5 Video Players)

By Emily Krings

25 Min Read

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Emily Krings

Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

Table of Contents


    HTML5 video players are currently the most popular type of video player in the digital space. These video players are highly compatible and flexible, so they allow broadcasters to reach a larger audience with their streams.

    In this post, we’re going to cover everything broadcasters need to know about HTML5 video players. We will start off by discussing what HTML5 video players are and how they compare to Flash players. Then, we’ll cover some benefits of HTML5 streaming before we dive into a comparison of the top 15 HTML5 video players on the market.

    We will wrap things up by talking about the most convenient way to access an HTML5 video player for professional broadcasting.

    Table of Contents

    • What is an HTML5 Video Player?
    • Benefits of Streaming with an HTML5 Video Player
    • Top 15 HTML5 Video Players: A Comparison
    • How to Access an HTML5 Video Player
    • Final Thoughts

    What is an HTML5 Video Player?

    html5 video player for website
    The HTML5 video player was a monumental development for online video streaming.

    An HTML5 video player is a digital technology that allows broadcasters to share video content with users over the internet. The HTML5 streaming technology was created as a more widely compatible alternative to Adobe’s Flash player.

    The History of the HTML5 Video Player

    The need for a more compatible video player arose when Steve Jobs announced in 2012 that Apple devices would never support Flash players. Since iPhones and other Apple products were among the most popular mobile devices at the time, broadcasters would miss out on a huge potential audience if Flash player was the only option.

    As of the end of 2020, Flash has been somewhat phased out, making HTML5 the only widely supported video player. The HTML5 video player is supported by all major operating systems and browsers, which means it is supported on pretty much any internet-enabled device imaginable.

    The Technological Background of the HTML5 Video Player

    HTML5 video players use the HTTPS Live Streaming (HLS) protocol to receive content from the video CDN or online video player that is hosting the streaming. HLS was created by Apple specifically for streaming to an HTML5 video player.

    Today, most online video platforms support HLS streaming. Some even use HLS ingest, but HLS stream hosting and delivery is most commonly paired with RTMP ingest. The HLS delivery and RTMP ingest combination is the most optimal because it is highly compatible with low latency.

    It is important to mention that RTMP was the protocol that was used for delivering content to the Flash video player, and although Flash is dead, RTMP is still very valuable for streaming.

    Benefits of Streaming with an HTML5 Video Player

    The HTML5 video player offers the support that broadcasters need to efficiently reach large audiences. That’s why it became so popular so quickly and why it continues to be the top choice among broadcasters.

    Let’s take a look at a couple of the top benefits of streaming with an HTML5 video player. 

    Compatibility

    As we mentioned, HTML5 video players are compatible with just about every mainstream operating system and browser. The compatibility alone makes this video player very valuable.

    Customizability

    HTML5 video players are also very easy to customize. Broadcasters can add different functions and buttons to their video player, as well as customize the size and aesthetic. Some HTML5 video players are even adaptive or responsive, which is another plus.

    Affordability

    There are so many free, open-source HTML5 video players available for broadcasters. HTML5 is also the default video player for most streaming platforms. Streaming with this type of video player is very affordable and accessible.

    Top 15 HTML5 Video Players: A Comparison

    Now that you know the importance of HTML5 video players for online video streaming, let’s take a look at the top 15 HTML5 video players on the market.

    1. THEOplayer

    theoplayer html video player
    THEOplayer is a powerful HTML5 video player.

    THEOplayer is a well-known HTML5 video player. In addition to its video player, the company offers support for customizing video players for streaming on SmartTV apps.

    THEOplayer is mostly used for OTT streaming and by “PayTV” service providers. It is capable of low latency streaming with reliable delivery.

    Pros:

    • SmartTV
    • SDKs and APIs
    • Low latency streaming
    • Clear documentation for developers
    • LL-HLS
    • LL-DASH
    • HESP
    • EMSS
    • Tools for testing players

    Cons:

    • Not free

    How to Access:

    Broadcasters can access THEOplayer by subscribing to the platform. The two pricing options are pay-as-you-go and custom-built, custom-priced plans.

    You can also access THEOplayer on several professional online video platforms, including Dacast.

    2. jPlayer

    jplayer html video player
    jPlayer supports both audio and video streaming.

    jPlayer is a media library with the documentation of HTML5 audio and video streaming. It is open-source and absolutely free to use. It is described as “lightweight” so users don’t need to worry about bogging down their site speed or requiring a ton of data to run this video player.

    This video player is completely customizable.

    Pros:

    • Audio and video player
    • Free
    • Open-source
    • API access
    • No licensing restrictions 
    • Large community for support

    Cons:

    • There are no major complaints from users

    How to Access:

    Users can download the video player right on the jPlayer website.

    3. VideoJS

    videojs html video player
    VideoJS is an easily customizable video player.

    VideoJS is a powerful video player that supports HTML5 streaming. It is highly customizable and it has access to hundreds of plugins for extensive functionality. It is easy to download and get started.

    Pros:

    Cons:

    • Slightly confusing for some users
    • Not compatible with other libraries

    How to Access:

    Users can download this video player right on the VideoJS website. You can also download components of VideoJS on GitHub.

    4. Projekktor

    projekktor html video player
    Projekktor is another reliable video player.

    Projekktor is a free, open-source platform that is thought to break the mold that many HTML5 video players stick to. It is customizable with Javascript API access and it supports pre-roll and post-roll ad insertion.

    Pros:

    • Free
    • Open-source
    • Ad insertion
    • API access

    Cons:

    • Some reported issues with themes
    • Complications with integrations

    How to Access:

    Broadcasters can access Projekktor on Drupal.

    5. Plyr

    plyr html video player
    PLYR is an HTML5 player for both audio and video content.

    Plyr is an HTML5 video player that was designed to be simple and accessible. It is highly customizable and supports both audio and video streaming.

    Pros:

    • Customizable video player
    • Supports audio and video 
    • Monetization via Vi.ai

    Cons:

    • No reported drawbacks

    How to Access:

    Interested users can download PLYR on GitHub.

    6. MediaElement.js

    MediaElement html5 video player
    MediaElement.js offers plugins in addition to its HTML5 video player.

    MediaElement.js offers an HTML5 video player and HTML5 video player plugins. This technology offers both audio and video players. It uses the most modern streaming setup with HLS streaming.

    MediaElement.js is used by very popular companies, including WordPress, Mozilla, Canvas, and Rotten Tomatoes.

    Pros:

    • Plugins available
    • Video and audio streaming
    • HLS
    • MPEG-DASH
    • RTMP
    • Well-documented 

    Cons:

    • A bit complex
    • The player is a bit large (in terms of file size)

    How to Access:

    Users can download the video player and HTML5 plugins from MediaElement.js on the MediaElement.js website.

    7. hls.js

    Hlsjs html5 video player
    hls.js is accessible and customizable.

    Hls.js is a popular JavaScript HTML5 video player. The code is free to download on GitHub, and it is very well-documented.

    All of the information available on hls.js is specific to the player’s code and customization. There is very little information beyond the code documentation. 

    Pros:

    Cons:

    • Not much background is available
    • Geared towards users with development experience

    How to Access:

    Users can download hls.js on GitHub.

    8. Cloudinary

    cloudinary html5 video player
    The HTML5 video player is one of several offerings from Cloudinary.

    Cloudinary offers streaming products, including an HTML5 video player. This player is a bit more advanced than the others we’ve discussed so far. It is highly customizable and offers integrations for video analytics and ad insertion.

    Pros:

    • Adaptive video player
    • Well-documented
    • Video playlists
    • Google Analytics integrations
    • Video ads

    Cons:

    • Not free
    • Platform is complicated
    • UI is a bit clunky

    How to Access:

    Users must have a Cloudinary subscription to access the video player. They offer a basic Free Forever plan, and users can upgrade to “Plus” for $99/month or “Advanced” for $249/month.

    9. Clappr

    clappr html5 video player
    Clappr offers a simple video player.

    Clappr is a basic HTML5 video player that is highly customizable and extensible. It is very well-documented, so broadcasters and developers can easily mold it to fit their exact streaming needs.

    Something interesting about Clappr is that users can create their own plugins.

    Pros:

    Cons:

    • No reported drawbacks

    How to Access:

    Users can download Clappr on GitHub.

    10. JW Player

    jwplayer html5 video player
    JW Player is an important HTML5 video player.

    JW Player started as part of the original code for the first YouTube video player. However, the player has since developed to support HTML5 streaming and is now known as one of the most powerful video players on the market.

    JW Player has evolved from just a project. The company now offers a fully-loaded streaming solution for live and on-demand video hosting. The video player is part of this professional offering.

    Pros:

    • Comes with advanced streaming tools
    • Very reliable
    • Well-established
    • API access

    Cons:

    • Not free

    How to Access:

    Users can access JW Player with a subscription to the JW Player online video platform. Basic plans are $10/month and custom-built Enterprise plans are available for broadcasters with advanced streaming needs.

    11. Flowplayer

    flowplayer html5 video player
    Flowplayer is another very reliable HTML5 video player.

    Flowplayer is another powerful video player and online video platform. It is performance-focused, and it’s equipped with both a reliable video player and an array of professional streaming tools.

    Flowplayer is known for its speed and compact size, which is great for streaming at the professional level.

    Pros:

    • Performance-focused
    • One of the most popular video players in the industry
    • The video player is light and fast
    • API access
    • Free access available

    Cons:

    • No notable drawbacks 

    How to Access:

    Users can access Flowplayer with a subscription to the online video platform. Subscriptions start at $49/month. Custom-priced enterprise plans are also available.

    For users who simply want access to the video player, it is possible to download Flowplayer on GitHub for free.

    12. Kaltura Player

    kaltura html5 video player
    Kaltura is an open-source OVP with a powerful video player.

    Kaltura is another online video platform that makes regular appearances on our blog. It is an open-source project that broadcasters use when they need extensive customization for their streaming needs.

    Kaltura Player is the HTML5 video player from Kaltura. It is known to be fast, flexible, and very customizable. 

    Pros:

    • Easy to customize
    • Fast and reliable
    • Feature-rich video player
    • Monetizable 
    • Studio with graphical user interface

    Cons:

    • Integrations cost money

    How to Access:

    Users can access this video player by starting a free trial from Kaltura. No other specific costs or information is available.

    13. Wistia

    wistia html5 video player
    Wistia is best known as an OVP.

    We’ve talked about Wistia on our blog many times as part of online video platform round-ups. In addition to its video hosting services, Wistia has a powerful video player that is unique to its platform.

    The Wistia video player is highly customizable. Users can easily add functions and aesthetic elements to brand their streams. The video player is also adaptive which makes for a more professional broadcasting experience.

    Pros:

    • Adaptive streaming
    • High-resolution video 
    • Podcast (audio) player
    • Easy embedding 
    • Very customizable

    Cons:

    • Only available with an OVP subscription

    How to Access:

    Users can access the Wistia video player by subscribing to the Wistia online video platform. The first three videos are free, and Pro plans start at $99/month. Enterprise users with advanced streaming needs can negotiate a custom contract.

    14. Elite Video Player

    Elite Video Player html5 player
    Elite Video Player is equipped with quite a few professional features.

    Elite Video Player is a highly customizable HTML5 video player with many professional features. Broadcasters can manipulate this player to fit exactly with their unique brands and streaming setups.

    Pros:

    • HLS streaming
    • Responsive and sticky modes
    • M3u8
    • 360 VR video support
    • Integrate with Google Drive and Dropbox

    Cons:

    • Not free

    How to Access:

    Broadcasters can purchase access to Elite Video Player for $59 on CodeCanyon.

    15. Ultimate Video Player

    Ultimate Video Player html5 player
    Ultimate Video Player is simply a plugin.

    The Ultimate Video Player is slightly different from the options we’ve covered. It is a WordPress Plugin, so it can only be used on WordPress sites. Since it is a plugin, this video player is simple to use, so it is well-suited for beginner broadcasters that are hosting their website on WordPress.

    Ultimate Video Player is equipped with ad insertion support for pre-, mid-, and post-roll.

    Pros:

    • Ad insertion with Google AdSense
    • APIs and SDKs
    • Password protection
    • Easy to use

    Cons:

    • WordPress plugin only
    • Not suitable for users on other web hosting platforms 

    How to Access:

    Broadcasters can purchase access to Ultimate Video Player on CodeCanyon for $69.

    How to Access an HTML5 Video Player

    As we compared each HTML5 video player, we mentioned where you could access each one specifically. However, many of these options require technical know-how in the arena of coding and development.

    The easiest way to access an HTML5 video player for streaming at the professional level is via an online video platform (OVP). Dacast, for example, uses THEOplayer to stream content.

    When you stream with an online video platform, embedding your HTML5 video player is as easy as copying and pasting a code generated by the platform. Customizing the video player is also quite easy since most OVPs use a graphical user interface.

    Also, professional OVPs give you access to an array of other features, including secure streaming, bulk video upload, brand customization, video monetization, channels, playlists, and more.

    Final Thoughts

    HTML5 video players are practically essential in the current state of the video streaming industry. This type of video player is the most compatible and customizable, which makes it better than the video players that came before.

    Although many HTML5 video players are free and open-source, we recommend accessing an HTML5 video player through a well-established live streaming platform.

    Not sure where to start? We invite you to take advantage of Dacast’s free trial to see how you can stream with the powerful THEOplayer. Test out our easy embedding, player customizations, and other professional streaming tools.

    Sign up for a Dacast account today to start your 30-day risk-free trial. No credit card or binding contracts are required.

    Get Started For Free

    For regular tips and exclusive offers, join the Dacast LinkedIn group.

    author avatar

    Emily Krings

    Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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