The State of HTML5 Video: Fullscreen & WebVTT Advance

Dec 11, 2013


We just pushed our 8th version of the State of HTML5 Video Report, hitting 2 years of coverage for this exciting tech. In this post, I’ll provide some highlights of the progress made, plus work that’s still to come.

Market Share Changes

80% of the market supports HTML5

There are several interesting developments on the market share side. Let’s take a look at the trends to gain some perspective. As always, data is provided by

On the desktop side, Chrome is on a roll, while Safari and Internet Explorer are holding their ground. Firefox is in slow decline, amplified by the fact the over the last two years overall desktop market share has shrunk from 90% to 75%. Another casualty is Internet Explorer 8, which slid from 17% to 7%. IE6 and IE7 are all but gone. Yay!

On the mobile front, iOS & Android are growing fast, jumping from a combined 6%  to 16% market share. Interestingly, the global share of non-HTML5 mobile browsers is also growing, from 4% to 9%. These so-called proxy browsers (think Nokia XPress, Opera Mini and UC Browser) are popular in countries like India and Nigeria. Both IE and Firefox have no traction (yet) on the mobile side.

At the end of the day, the combined market share of browsers supporting HTML5 grows modestly from 76% to 81. That is only part of the story though…

Fullscreen & WebVTT Progress

Soon fullscreen support will be ubiquitous

The other part of the story is the depth of support and cross-browser interoperability. All browsers now play MP4 video (pending Firefox/MAC) – no more double encoding. They also all treat tag attributes and the JavaScript API correctly. On the API side, we ticked the final checkboxes for Android this quarter, due to the steady growth of Jelly Bean. The only inconsistency left in basic

The real success stories of HTML5 video are the Fullscreen API and with VTT. Both didn’t exist 2 years ago, but are nearing ubiquity today:

  • The new Internet Explorer 11 supports the W3C Fullscreen API. All desktop browsers now have built-in fullscreen video support. Both iOS and Android use the slightly older Webkit fullscreen API.
  • Internet Explorer 11 also runs VTT styling and a full Cue API forelements. On the mobile side, iOS7 and Android KitKat now have VTT support. This leaves Firefox as the only browser that still needs to implement it.

As IE11, iOS7, and Kitkat gain market share, Fullscreen and VTT will get broad support in 2014. That leaves VTT in Firefox, which is in alpha now, with engineers working hard towards a release.

Adaptive Streaming – the Final Frontier

iOS is the only platform with streaming

Does that mean HTML5 video is all but done? Not quite. The one area left is adaptive streaming. Without it, live and long-form video cannot thrive on the web. The wheels are in motion here too, but there is a split in what browsers support:

While MSE can theoretically be used to build any kind of adaptive streaming, there is a limiting factor around the container format(s) browsers support. Chrome does WebM and fMP4;  IE11 only fMP4. This means developers cannot build HLS into HTML5 (it uses the TS container). Moreover, fMP4 – meaning fragmented MP4 – is not the same as regular MP4. Existing MP4 files therefore cannot be re-used for adaptive streaming. Ouch…

Clearly, more work has to be done here. A logical step would be Chrome adding TS support, so JW Player and others can move to HTML5 for HLS playback. As Apple then adds MSE to iOS and Safari, we can then collectively move to DASH with fMP4. Or DASH with H.265. Or DASH with VP9?

To be continued…