Media RSS with different media (video) formats – problem and solution

Most of video sites are providing Media RSS feeds but not all of them provide URL of Flash Videos or Audio. Some (YouTube, Brightcove etc) use <media:player /> element to point to their player (or page) and some provide videos in different formats (mov, wmv etc) and some (Revver etc) have videos encoded in Flash-Video-Format (flv) but their Media RSS contains (different formats mov, wmv etc). Due to various reasons (monetization purpose, traffic-statistics, advertisement, not enough resources to of transcode media etc), these sites are not providing the link to Flash Videos (.flv files) in syndication-feeds. I understand the concern and problems but there is solution that would probably:-

  • Increase traffic i.e. monetization
  • Solve Usability problem – discussed later
  • Allow third-party developers to get a clean way of integrating things instead of hacking f.ex: YouTube FLV URL hacks/workarounds

Let me give an example, look at following YourMinis! widget for Brightcove:-

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  • Context Change: User can’t see the videos within widget, it requires to go to Brightcove’s site.


  • Provide a shorter duration (10 secs) preview/sample Flash Video file (.flv) in feeds.

Media RSS spec suggests that <media:content/> has an “expression” attribute that determines if video (media) is a sample or full version. Why aren’t publisher using it for sample videos also? Now imagine, if Brightcove had provided a link of preview-flv-url in their RSS feed or API, this YourMinis! widget could have provided a better experience by helping user to see preview before deciding to watch full video. There are various open-source tools to transcode, process, split and merge Flash Video Files. All these sites can automate the process of creating preview-flash-video-files and also provide their users a tool to create previews using online-front-end (made in Flash/Flex). We all know that Adobe Flash Player is not only most-ubiquitous browser-plugin but also most-ubiquitous Video-player on the web ( and hopefully on desktop once Apollo is there), so why not use it? Everyone (Google, Microsoft etc) is talking about widgets that can consume distributed-data. But it seems publishers are little reluctant and doing what their competitors are doing. I believe, this is time to solve the problem of monetization over syndication/distributed-data (APIs etc) irrespective of content-type (text, images, videos, audios etc).

Update (March 24, 2009): Adobe announced support for some more video and audio formats in Flash Player in August 2007. By now, most of us have Flash Player with those new capabilities installed on our machines. So the idea of this post, where Flash applications can consume vidoes in media-rss feeds, seem to have gone easier.

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  • Abdul, that’s an interesting idea, one I haven’t heard before. Thanks for your thoughts on this, something to consider!
    I think the biggest problem with this would be that Brightcove could only do it for some videos:
    1. Doing it for all of the videos in the system would have a huge aggregate cost. There’s a very, very large number of videos that are stored by Brightcove. You’d probably just have to decide to only do this for “Buzz” videos, or use some other criteria.
    2. You’d have to get the publisher’s ok. It simply wouldn’t work to do this automatically, without the copyright holder’s permission. It’s possible to have this in the console we have for publishers, but it might look odd if some videos have the playback and others don’t.

  • It would be nice if publishers can create preview clip using easy to use front-end (cliping tool with slider thumbs from both side, the way it’s in Flash IDE video import?)…
    This way, they can decide how short or long preview clip can be? They can also choose pre or post roll.. Final clip is merged FLV of preview-clip + pre/post roll?
    I can imagine the aggregation cost but existing sites..But any new video site, they can start doing upfront… Existing sites can think of some way to do it over the time 🙂

  • Bob

    Had a media RSS feed (flv) from metacafe playing inside Slideshowpro player for flash on my site for 3 days.
    It must have been bandwidth. they cut the feed. when I emailed the support people ( very polite by the way), they said there was no metacafe player embedded on my site.
    was nice while it lasted.
    Have found a few staic image feeds in media RSS . but the video is few and far between .
    still looking.

  • red5

    I know that out there are some plugins or scripts wich can make your navigation thru media rss why provide only previews of media instead of watching a video thru the script and see youtube ads in it ?
    Bad idea for future i think…More and more Rss will get the intire web.. is one of them , wich use XML RSS and also XSL to display content…Google can read it all, they think we don´t know it 🙂