For the second entry of my blog series ‘the commercial video player overview’, we’ll be taking a look at the Bitmovin Player. Be sure to check out the first part of the series for an explanation of our points of focus, as well as an overview of the players we’ll be looking at in this series!
Everything I write is on personal title and not affiliated with my role within 24i.
While Bitmovin is known for more than just a player (they offer Encoding and Analytics products too), their player is definitely one to speak of. With customers like FuboTV and ClassPass, their player is used across many countries and on many devices.
If you need an app on every single platform that exists, the Bitmovin Video Player might just be the one for you. Not only do they have support for all major web browsers, smartphones and smart TVs, even Roku is supported. And for those of us in the industry know that, if even Roku is supported, this usually means it is supported everywhere!
The Bitmovin Player is very much feature-complete, think of a feature and Bitmovin probably has support for it. From typical features like DRM and UI customisations, to very advanced features like Low Latency streaming and Server-Side Ad Insertion. Basically everything you can imagine is available, in a modular player solution. That modularity is also what Bitmovin boasts about. Compared to their previous (v7) version, the new v8 player claims to offer fast load times, low buffering times and an overall smaller file size. It’s no easy feat to offer all these features while keeping performance in sight.
Third Party Integrations
What you would expect is that such a feature-rich player has a lot of support for many third party integrations. Sadly though, I could not find any reference on the Bitmovin website related to pre integrations with third parties. As an example, the Mux website does show how to integrate Mux Data within the Bitmovin Player. But that rather shows how to do it from a Mux side, and the instructions are rather long, too.
So while it doesn’t look like the Bitmovin Player comes with too many integrations out of the box, that on the other side also does make sense. As mentioned before, Bitmovin offers more than just the video player. They have encoding and analytics products, which are available as a whole package together with the player. So it makes sense from a business-perspective to put more focus on that, rather than focus on third party integrations.
Ease of Use
Similar to other players, Bitmovin comes with a lot of configuration tools that you can use to tweak the player in the way that you want. It is however not as easy as the likes of Agnoplay, for example. There is a lot more development needed in order to integrate not only by default supported features, but also third party integrations (as can be seen from the Mux documentation).
While a lot is possible with the Bitmovin Player, it focuses less on just configuration and more on ‘custom’ development. Yes, a lot of the player tools come ready out of the box, but it requires more than just a config. And that’s exactly what bigger (or enterprise-grade) OTT parties out there look for; they want a lot of control over how the player looks and behaves. And for that reason it definitely has a right to exist, especially with the amount of features and platforms supported.
As most other players, pricing is available in different tiers. For smaller parties and brands that don’t need any of the non-conventional devices, the ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ and ‘Player Starter’ tiers are a good place to start. If you do however have an interest in platforms like SmartTV or Roku, the Enterprise tier is the only option available.
Of the players out there, the Bitmovin Player definitely takes the cake with support for all of the platforms you can imagine. Their modular and performance-focused approach combined with their list of features makes for a great player to work with. The only downside, from my perspective, is definitely the support for third parties. While you may be able to integrate with a third party like Mux or Conviva, it’s definitely not as easy as it is with other players and may require a lot of (costly) custom development work. Nevertheless, Bitmovin is a great Player that ticks most if not all boxes for the majority of use-cases out there.
That’s all for the second entry in this blog series. Tune in next week where we’ll be looking at the third player of the series: Flowplayer! If you’ve missed the first entry about Agnoplay, you can read it here.
PS. If you come across any factual inaccuracies in this blog, please reach out so I can address them. Thank you!