I’ve attempted to create both video and audio webcasts. None of my attempts have turned out well. They didn’t turn out badly, but I’m unwilling to share since I’m not proud of them either. Primarily, my issue is with a complete lack of talent for this medium. It is what it is.
However, as an end user of both video and audio webcasts, there are a few things that providers should do that they often don’t do to make the consumers happier. Boooo.
What media providers should do:
- Use RSS feeds to share the last 5-50 webcasts.
- Use standard formats to share all content.
- Allow the widest possible viewership by allowing downloads of the content
- Always provide a patent-free format
- Provide transcripts – for text searching later, not as the primary format for incompatible media formats
RSS makes life easy for your viewers/listeners. Other aggregators are find too, like iTunes, but you don’t want to prevent some people who wanted your content by preventing, YES, PREVENTING them from using some service they elect not to use. Not everyone wishes the use aggregators, the reasons do not matter.
Use standard formats for the content. Standard formats are those supported by 99% of the viewer / listener devices. These formats exist.
- For audio, there are a few acceptable formats. MP3, WAV, and OGG are it. All other formats are proprietary and need to be avoided.
- For video, there are a few more acceptable formats. FLV, MPEG2, MPEG4, xvid, MKV container with . Perhaps it is easier to point out unacceptable video formats: MOV, RM, WMV, QT, SilverLight and browser only formats are all unacceptable. RealMedia and QuickTime formats are worse than Microsoft. Microsoft’s older formats are small, efficient. RealPlayer and QT formats require heavy apps to use which behave like viruses. Have you tried to remove realplayer or quicktime from your system? It isn’t easy. Unacceptable. Don’t make users download a plugin either. If an old version (0.98 or earlier) of VLC plays the video, it is probably fine for distribution. VLC should be the content format test, period.
Allow the widest possible viewership. This means you need to allow people access to the content in the way THEY choose. Many people place audio and video casts on portable devices to listen and watch during their commute times. Millions of people do this every day.
Why use a patent-free format? Some of the most vocal people insist on completely free access. I’m not one of those people. It is fairly trivial to create patent-free formats on-demand. You don’t need to keep those formats around, just allow the user to select them.
So, if you are providing video or audio casts, please make them available to the largest possible audience by following the guidelines outlined above. Please.
What brought this on? I visited a website where I PAY for the content and some of that content is video-casts. I was unable to view or even hear it. Unacceptable. It seemed they went out of their way to make it so I couldn’t gain access to the content either. They are a big company, so my request for compatible formats will probably go unsolved. Their website is extremely complex and fancy. For the most part, it works extremely well, even from an old Linux machine.
Which content providers drive you crazy?
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