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Designing a modern video player for experts

5 September 2019, Written by 0 comment

Jet-Stream Player technologies

Designing a modern video player for experts

(hint: we took way more time than expected to build a really cool video player with expert features, is good for privacy and it is free, hooray!)

Why use a video player? 

You can use the HTML5 <video> tag to embed videos into your website. Browsers and mobile devices will natively playback the video file. But that’s just it. Professional users need many more features than just showing a video. 

You can also upload content to a free video platform and embed their player into your website. But remember: when the service is free, you are the product. You lose control over your assets, your revenue models, your audience. The platforms learn and earn more, at your expenses. It’s also not really professional to use a platform player in your own website. Besides, they lock you entirely into their workflow and limit you to their functionality. 

To professionally use video streaming, you need a video player. For instance to support adaptive bit-rate streaming. And to support live streaming. To add poster images, thumbs, subtitles and offer a responsive and rich environment to users on all kinds of devices.

State of streaming

Back in the early days of streaming, we had a player per technology: Realplayer, Windows Media Player and QuickTime Player for instance. Later, we had Flash as a framework, so Flash players became popular. Let’s be glad we survived that 🙂

IOS & Safari are dominant

Today, mobile devices are responsible for over 75% of all streams being watched. Apple devices (with mobile Safari) are leading. It looks like iPhone users are addicted to video streaming, and have unlimited data plans. The Android family with Chrome is also very popular. On laptops and desktops, Chrome dominates, followed by Firefox and Safari. 

HLS & Icecasting

It won’t be a surprise that HLS (Apple’s HTTP Adaptive Streaming) technology is by far the most popular streaming technology. It may be a surprise that Icecast streaming is second. Icecast (Shoutcast) is an ancient live audio streaming technology, but still very popular, basically because every device out there supports it. The same counts for MP4 and MP3 (progressive) downloads: still popular. MPEG DASH is hardly being used. Concluding, a modern video player for experts should at least support HLS and Icecast, live and on-demand adaptive streaming, and MP4/MP3 progressive downloads. 

Jet-Stream Player core

Jet-Stream Player is built upon the open source Video.JS technology stack. Actually, many commercial video players are built using the same framework. But they don’t tell. There is a large developer community behind this technology which means that it is widely supported and actively used. 

All popular devices and browsers

We tested Jet-Stream Player to work on all modern mobile browsers and computer browsers. Which is very important: 100% audience reach may be too hard but we’ll settle for no less than 99% compliance for 80% of all expert streaming customers. Since Chromecast and Airplay are very popular features, we added support for these too. 

Privacy and lightweight code: no trackers, fast streaming

We wanted to build the fastest video player for experts: load and play. So we decided to break with the way the industry works: no trackers. No tracker codes means a lighter footprint. It also means much less connections to third party servers. We don’t leak data to non-EU servers, we don’t leak data to third parties. We guarantee the privacy of your viewers. We also only load libraries when they are necessary. We host the player on our ultra fast CDN. The result is a player that loads and streams faster than the speed of sound.

Modern streaming support

Jet-Stream Player fully supports live and on-demand HLS streaming with full adaptive bit-rate support. It means that the days of buffering are over, the player intelligently adapts the quality of the stream to the capabilities of the users’ device and internet connection. We also fully support MP4 and MP3 progressive downloads. We fully support Icecasting. So we support all your live streams, VOD streams, downloads, podcasts and radio streams a by a single, unified media player.

Custom messages

An exclusive to Jet-Stream Player is that you can upload a ‘stream offline’ image and an ‘access not allowed’ video to your account on the Jet-Stream Platform. In the scenario of an interrupted live stream (or when you’re simply not streaming at that time), the viewer will not get an annoying error number, but your nice, personally branded image to say that the stream is currently offline. If you lock (anti-deep-link) or geo-fence your stream, the player will show your nice personally brandend video to tell the viewer that they have no rights to access this content. 

Monetization

Jet-Stream Player fully supports VAST video advertising integration. Simply upload VAST XML files to the Jet-Stream Platform, and select which VAST to include to which stream. Jet-Stream Player will automatically show pre-, mid-, and post rolls. Jet-Stream Player is free, with unlimited plays, yet you can monetize your audience: more margin for you. Don’t pay to play.

100 % accurate analytics & statistics

All Jet-Stream analytics and real-time statistics are logged and processed in our EU cloud, regardless of the player. Whether your audience uses tracker blockers or not, we capture every view. We offer very detailed, and 100% accurate analytics, which are GDPR compliant. A unique proposition. 

User Experience

Jet-Stream Player offers a rich set of features, with a minimalistic interface design to offer viewers a fluent streaming experience. In addition, we auto detect when you auto play your streams, and then mute the audio to prevent browsers from stopping auto-play. We present an audio animation to show that the stream is muted. Moreover, we offer 10 seconds rewind and forward buttons and support all kinds of nice user feedback functions such as preview thumbnails. It’s these details that give your viewers a nice experience. 

Better security

Jet-Stream Player and Jet-Stream Platform are deeply integrated. We prevent anti-deep-linking by default. Instantly toggle security and geo-fencing on and off per individual vod and live stream. Your content will be shown on your portals and apps only, and only within the countries that you want the content to be available. You decide who can watch the content under which conditions, and we enforce it for you. 

Important features for a rich experience

Jet-Stream Player supports important features such as poster image, preview thumbs, multi-language subtitling, so you can offer your audience a rich media experience.

No lock-in

We designed Jet-Stream Player to accommodate 80% of the video streaming experts. With all it’s rich features, it is the default choice for virtually all our customers on our platform. If you do need customization: let us know. We will put the most requested features on our road map. And if you are in a hurry: we don’t lock you into our player. Use any player with the Jet-Stream Platform. But why would you: it’s more expensive, doesn’t give you the integrated experience, and oh boy, the privacy issues are real. 

Oh yeah. It’s free.

If all these cool features and privacy arguments aren’t enough to persuade you: Jet-Stream Player comes free with every Jet-Stream account and has unlimited plays. We don’t believe in the business model of pay to play. 

I want to say a big thanks to the team and to our loyal customers who helped with feature wishes, beta testing and feedback. It’s really nice to see how multiple parties can work together in such a nice project. It’s never about the technology, it’s about people sharing a vision and working together to create a product that helps everyone forward.

If you want to learn more about the features of Jet-Stream Player, check out Jet-Stream.com/player, or even better, get a free account at Jet-Stream.com and test drive the Jet-Stream experience. 

Stef

Stef is the founder of Jet-Stream, and pioneered one of the very first webcasts in 1994. Yes it means he is at least 27 years old. He says 😉