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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