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Hulu sides with Flash over HTML5, updates existing site

updated 03:25 pm EDT, Thu May 13, 2010

Wei: Technology 'not ready yet'

Hulu -- the TV streaming service owned by ABC, NBC and Fox -- will not be switching to HTML5 anytime soon, according to the company's product VP, Eugene Wei. "We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn't yet meet all of our customers' needs," Wei writes in a blog post. "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."

"Not all video sites have these needs, but for our business these are all important and often contractual requirements," the VP concludes.

The post has since been removed, but is likely a response to increasing pressure to support Apple handhelds, namely the iPad. The iPhone OS is incapable of playing Flash content, and so depends on either HTML5 or dedicated apps for video. Networks like CBS have already begun streaming some video in HTML5, but Wei's claims suggest that Hulu will go the dedicated route if it wants to support Apple in the near future.

Mentioned in the VP's post, in fact, is a new custom Flash player, equipped with adaptive bitrate streaming, normalization for ad volume, and a larger video window that shows controls only when mousing over. A variety of interface tweaks have been made as well, such as the addition of preview thumbnails for seek, and alternate closed captioning styles. The rest of Hulu is being upgraded with revised homepages, personalized recommendations and the insertion of survey questions in place of some ads.

by MacNN Staff




  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So Hulu should work in any browser with Flash?

    ...including any mobile device web browser with Flash?

  1. johnblack

    Joined: Dec 1969


    old news

    They've been clear about their feelings toward HTML5 for awhile. I read about this back in March on MacDaddyNews.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This makes no sense. Maybe they need to talk to Steve. Because Steve says everyone should go to HTML5, and it does everything they need. (Need being 'playing video'. Everything else is just crappy options and wishes from their providers - who cares about that...)

  1. pt123

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I am happy as long as it is still free.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I like using Hulu so I'll just have to continue

    using it on the desktop only. I don't suspect them of having an ulterior motive and I'll take what they say at face value. I'm not calling them liars or accusing them of being lazy or colluding with Adobe. If that's how they want to handle their site, then that's up to them. I'm not telling them that they're holding back the internet. They have a good site, but they're not the only source of videos on the net. Maybe it will take some time for them find other ways of managing statistics and security. I don't know their specific needs but maybe Flash way is the easiest for them.

    As an end user I'm also only interested in "playing video" and not all that other "server side" c*** that goes along with it.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    please explain to me

    what is good about hulu? from what i can tell it has a really crappy movie selection and a few tv episodes and a whole bunch of tv clips. am i missing something about this site?

    (i realize this has nothing to do with flash/html5)

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This, of course...

    ...does not prevent them from writing native code for various devices to do what they need - without the need for Flash.

    HTML5 can't do what they want, but Objective C sure can.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: This of course

    sure, if you want to talk about incredibly proprietary solutions....

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's not always a practical thing to convert to HTML5. Majority of entertainment related sites are built with Flash. So far HTML5's interactive ability is not that impressive comparing to Flash.

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