Adobe Flash Player had a long run, but it’s now the era of the HTML5 video player. HTML5 players have become the industry standard for streaming live and on-demand video content—and for good reasons. These modern-day players provide enhanced performance, control, features, and security.
While HTML5 has become the go-to option for professional streaming, you have more options than ever when it comes to finding the right solution for your business. Look around the internet, and you’ll find dozens of different HTML5 video players with varying functionality and price points.
We’ve done the nitty-gritty research to narrow down your options. Below, we’ll cover the 8 best HTML5 video players for 2023 and what makes them stand apart from the competition. Before getting into those details, let’s break down everything you need to know to choose an HTML5 video player.
What Is an HTML5 Video Player?
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the language that composes all the pages of the internet. HTML5 is the most up-to-date version of the HTML5 language, and it supports video tags and audio tags. This functionality enables web developers to incorporate video playback directly into web pages.
However, this natively doesn’t support streaming—only embedded videos. And that’s where HTML5 video players come in handy. These tools were built to handle streaming live and video-on-demand (VOD) content with top-notch delivery, performance, and features.
Providers packaged up HTML5 video players to offer users the features they most need, whether that’s automatic captions, autoplay, built-in forms, or clickable links. This is what makes each tool HTML5 video player different. You can find plenty of free open-source and paid video player options, but you have to narrow down the features and functionality you most need and what you’re willing to pay for.
HTML5 Video Player Features
The best HTML5 video players offer industry-leading features and performance—without letting one stifle the other. Some providers may include advanced features in their players, but these can sometimes slow down delivery and hurt execution. The hard work is finding the right balance between features and performance, but the best players ensure you don’t have to compromise.
While you might not need every HTML5 video player feature, it’s good to know your options. Below, we’ll outline the best features of industry-leading HTML5 video players:
HTML5 video players tend to be compatible with most operating systems and web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.), but you might also want to play video in other places. Check your video player provider to see if they offer APIs and SDKs to add video functionality to your mobile apps and OTT apps across devices (iOS, Android, and more).
Every HTML5 video player provides different playback control for your audience. Here are a few video controls to consider:
- Playback Speed: Let users speed up or slow down playback to watch content on their own timing and with their own preferences.
- Quality: Enable users to use dynamic adaptive streaming or manually choose the playback quality for the best performance.
- Captions: Let users toggle captions on and off.
- Time: Empower your users to fast forward or backward 15 seconds with the click of a button.
All the features and integrations don’t mean anything if users have annoying delays, disruptions, and buffering. Find an HTML video player that prioritizes fast streaming delivery above all else so that your content and ads render beautifully and buffer-free on every screen—because every millisecond counts.
Create video galleries to match your website or mobile app’s branding and showcase your videos in a branded environment. Video galleries work great when featuring a collection of videos or playlists that are relevant to each other and encourage viewers to watch another piece of content.
HTML5 video players can collect insights about your audience behavior to inform your content strategy. Learn which videos viewers watch the most, when they tend to pause, where they share videos, and when they might drop off. This data can help you create better content moving forward to satisfy consumer demand.
Certain HMTL5 video players specialize in advertising integrations, allowing you to collect more ad revenue and higher CPMs with header bidding built directly into your player. Test out this functionality for ease of use and see how it affects buffering and latency.
You want your video player to be a seamless extension of your brand, whether it lives on a website, mobile device, or smart TV application. Some players let you customize the colors, logos, and thumbnails to ensure an on-brand experience wherever viewers interact with your video content.
Create automatic and manual-entry transcriptions for better accessibility and readability with your content. Some players are more accurate and timely than others, so do your research and test the products to see which performs the best.
Not every player can handle livestreaming video content. Even if livestreaming isn’t on your current agenda, consider your future conditions to find a video player that’ll satisfy all your content needs.
Find a secure HTML5 video player that protects your content from theft and illegal distribution. This has more to do with the platform behind your video player, but it’s typically an additional consideration when considering the best video solution for your business.
8 Best HTML5 Video Players for 2023
Below, you’ll find everything from enterprise-quality to entry-level HTML5 video players. Some players were built for specific industries and use cases, while others are more flexible.
1. JW Player
JW Player’s a complete video platform with the fastest HTML5 video player on the web. It delivers first-class performance when it comes to reliably streaming live and on-demand content with robust advertising options and industry-leading features. Businesses can customize all the important aspects of their video player with CSS and APIs to create an on-brand experience regardless of where viewers consume their content.
While JW Player’s HTML5 player prioritizes the viewer experience, it also focuses on advertising and engagement to maximize ad revenue from every view. Viewers can completely control the viewing experience by adjusting the speed and quality of the video, and businesses capture more attention with recommendations features intended to keep users watching longer.
- Best-in-class advertising integrations
- Lightning-fast content delivery
- Complete customization options for on-brand experiences
- A few users on G2 found JW Players take a bit more time to set up advanced functionality
- Currently doesn’t offer podcasting solutions
Since HLS.js is open-sourced, you won’t have any dedicated customer support. However, you will have help from developers in the community who can lend a hand when you run into hiccups. And you’ll likely need it because HLS.js requires a bit more technical savvy to implement than other more turnkey solutions.
- Free, open-source product
- Includes subtitles, captions, and time metadata
- Provides HLS streaming
- No customer support
- Requires advanced technical know-how to implement
Clappr provides an open-source HTML5 video player with some of the most advanced customization options. Users can personalize almost every user interface video element with HTML5 and CSS3 to create a perfectly on-brand experience. Clappr has an excellent reputation for being user-friendly, with an easy-to-use backend and easy access to an extensive library of plugins and Claprr’s APIs.
Clappr’s player supports HLS and DASH playback, 360 videos, and picture-in-picture. Users get basic control options like DVR playback and closed captions, and it integrates with Google Analytics for you to track user engagement.
- Free, open-source video player
- Easy to use
- Extensive customization options
- No customer support
THEOPlayer is an HTML5 video player with support for web, mobile, smart TVs, and casting devices. They provide native SDKs for Apple’s Low-Latency HLS streaming (LL-HLS). Since THEOPlayer is a commercial product, you can expect excellent customer service and clear documentation on setting up and customizing your player.
- Support for low-latency streaming
- Documentation and customer support
- Powerful SDKs and APIs
- Not great for small businesses and startups
- Provides many free plugins
- Extensive documentation
- Lightweight player protects website load speed
Kaltura is an open-source video platform with a customizable HTML5 video player. Users can personalize everything from the colors to the logos to the available features on the video interface. Its open-source roots give it an engaged developer community with plenty of integrations and add-ons. Kaltura can be used across industries, but it was built primarily for educational content, featuring specific tools like lecture capture, campus portal tools, and virtual classrooms.
- Open-source HTML5 video player
- Plenty of customization options
- Education-specific features and tools
- Some users on G2 complain that Kaltura is too complex and requires heavy developer resources
- A few users on G2 found that the platform and video player don’t perform well on iPads and other tablets
Wistia is a video platform purpose-built for marketing teams and content creators. Its HTML5 video player has plenty of out-of-the-box engagement features for lead generation and data collection. Wistia’s platform is non-technical and user-friendly, empowering content creators to get up and running in no time.
- Non-technical HTML5 video player
- Out-of-the-box marketing and engagement features
- Ability to launch webinars
- It doesn’t provide live-streaming video options
- Users on G2 complained about the pricing
- Some users on G2 found Wistia to provide poor analytics
Flowplayer provides one of the best-performing HTML5 video players on the market. It’s a fast-loading and lightweight solution with support for adaptive bitrate streaming and advanced customization options. Flowplayer also has integrations for header bidding and real-time analytics, and it can also be adapted for SVOD and TVOD monetization models.
- Wide list of integrations
- Fast-loading and lightweight
- Excellent customer support
- It needs to be paired with a streaming platform
- Some users on GetApp complained that advertising is limited to higher-priced tiers
How to Choose the Right HTML5 Video Player for Your Business
Not every HTML5 video player will be the right fit for your business. Depending on your needs and use case, you might need a complete video platform with robust features and functionality to execute a video content strategy. Developers might be comfortable with more open-source solutions, while non-technical users will likely need turnkey products with out-of-the-box features.
Here are a few of the key criteria to consider when narrowing down your options and choosing an HTML5 video player:
Find an HTML5 media player with all the features you need for a top-notch user experience. Features include:
- Encoding in different video formats
- Adaptive bitrate streaming
- Multiple playback speeds
- Automatic transcriptions
- Clickable links
- Fullscreen playback
- Built-in forms
Ideally, you want a solution that has these features built into the product. However, you can accomplish this via integrations and plugins, too.
Choose an HTML5 video player that integrates with the rest of your tech stack. It should be able to connect to things like your analytics software and customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Check what the video platform supports and determine if it’s an easy-to-implement integration or if you’ll need developer resources to link everything smoothly.
The best features and integrations don’t mean much if performance suffers. You need an HTML5 video player that’s feature-rich but lightweight enough to deliver content seamlessly without impacting page loading times. Your HTML5 video player needs to provide buffer-free streaming and dependable uptimes.
If you’re streaming live or video-on-demand content to a global audience at scale, you’ll likely need a multi-CDN solution to reliably distribute your videos. These types of networks have points or presence (POPs) around the world to better handle load management and fallback during single server errors.
Ease of Use
Your HTML5 video player should be simple to set up and implement on the backend, and your users should have an easy time navigating the settings and buttons to perform basic actions like pausing, rewinding, switching stream quality, and enabling subtitles.
Choose the HTML5 video player that supports your monetization strategy. Advertising is a go-to way to monetize your videos, but you might want to expand into a subscription or transactional models. Ensure your video platform has the functionality or integrations to support the monetization methods you use now or plan to use in the future.
Not everything goes according to plan when building digital solutions and experiences, especially if you’re trying to create for a global audience. When things get messy, you need a customer support team you can rely on to troubleshoot and patch problems. Open-source HTML5 video players don’t have dedicated support teams, but they often have engaged developer communities. Determine if you can trust these communities to help you out or if you’d be safer with committed customer support.
While you can find plenty of free, open-source HTML5 video players on the market, they sometimes require more costs in terms of time and energy to set up, integrate, maintain, and troubleshoot. Find a solution that strikes a balance between price and performance. Remember that your HTML5 video player and video platform aren’t expenses—they’re investments.
Invest in the Fastest HTML5 Video Player on the Web
Don’t want to compromise when it comes to delivery and performance? Enjoy the world’s fastest HTML5 video player when you choose JW Player for all your video content needs. Our player delivers a buffer-free experience using HLS and DASH adaptive streaming, meaning every viewer (regardless of their device or internet bandwidth) gets top-notch performance.
We built our HTML5 player to optimize advertising. We provide best-in-class ad integrations, innovative products, and broad standards support to help you maximize your ad revenue.
Want to see the product in action for yourself? Sign up for a 30-day free trial to test drive the player and see how it performs. You’ll get all the customization options and full API and SDK access to see just how powerful JW Player can be for your video content.