Why YouTube & Netflix use MPEG-DASH in HTML5

Stefan Lederer
. 2 min read
netflix mpeg-dash youtube mpeg-dash

HTML5[1]The recent news that YouTube has chosen HTML5 as their default playback option – rather than Flash which was used previously – got a lot of attention, including coverage from TechCrunch and TheVerge. However, not many know that YouTube also uses MPEG-DASH in HTML5 wherever it is possible (e.g. IE11, Chrome, Safari). Considering that Netflix is using MPEG-DASH as well, one could say that the two major sources of traffic on the internet choose MPEG-DASH in HTML5 as their core streaming technology.
We at Bitmovin think that this is a great example of the success of MPEG-DASH as first-class adaptive streaming technology.

More than just Youtube and Netflix using MPEG-DASH

Seeing names like Youtube and Netflix alongside MPEG-DASH can give you a lot of confidence in the technology, but there is a lot more to it than just big-name endorsements. There are many benefits in embracing the MPEG-DASH standard both now and moving forward into the future. Here are a few of the reasons the big names are turning to MPEG-DASH.

  • MPEG-DASH is a company independent, open and international standard, which has broad support from the industry, as one can see by the long member list of the DASH Industry Forum.
  • New standards such as the HTML5 Media Source Extensions of W3C, or HbbTV, are enabling MPEG-DASH across many platforms. This also includes further functionalities such as DRM, which is simplifying the whole DRM workflow by common encryption (MPEG-CENC) across different DRM systems as well as standardized playback on HTML5 platforms using the HTML5 Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).
  • Heavy PlugIns like Silverlight and Flash are not state-of-the-art, perform poorly and cause security issues. Thus, Chrome recently started to drop the Silverlight support, which is a huge problem for the majority of premium video providers, as they deliver their streams via Smoothstreaming and Playready DRM, which both enforce Silverlight. That’s the reason why those providers now switch to HTML5 with MPEG-DASH and MPEG-CENC based DRM.
  • And last but definitely not least, more and more platforms are adopting MPEG-DASH and/or the standards enabling it such as HTML5 EME/MSE or HbbTV. Also, more and more open-source projects enabling MPEG-DASH, such as libDASHMP4Box, Bento4, the ExoPlayer for Android, etc.

So what does this mean for content providers, websites, streaming services, etc.?
You are ready to go with MPEG-DASH, enabled, e.g., by Bitmovin’s  MPEG-DASH player which supports MPEG-DASH playback on any web platform using HTML5 or Flash-based MPEG-DASH playback, as well as on most mobile browsers using HTML5. And, if MPEG-DASH playback is not possible (e.g. on iOS), we simply fallback to HLS. In this context, the following overview is a good example of web browsers adopting DASH:

Browser HTML5 MSE & MPEG-DASH supported HTML5 EME & CDM (Content Decryption Module)
Chrome Yes WideVine Modular, ClearKey
Chrome on Android Yes WideVine Modular, ClearKey
Internet Explorer Yes (only on IE 11 / Windows 8) PlayReady
Internet Explorer on Windows Phone Yes (Windows Phone 8.1) Not supported
Firefox Yes WideVine, Primetime
Safari on OS X Yes FairPlay
Safari on iOS Not supported (Fallback to HLS in the bitdash players) Not supported

A broader overview of supported platforms and devices can be found on the device and browser support overview page at Furthermore, the standard comparison page of provides a great overview of the feature set supported in MPEG-DASH. If you want to know more about MPEG-DASH and HLS encoding, checkout out our encoding guide.

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Stefan Lederer

Stefan Lederer

Co-Founder & CEO

Stefan Lederer is a renowned innovator and thought leader in video streaming with a strong background in academic research. Stefan co-created the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard and has contributed to several open-source tools, including DASHEncoder, DASHoverCCN and VLC plugin. Stefan also serves as an external lecturer at the University of Klagenfurt.

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