NexPlayer — The Commercial Video Player Overview, Part 5
In the fifth edition of my commercial video blog series, we’re looking at NexPlayer. For an introduction into the format of this series, please refer to the first entry. We’ve also already looked at the likes of Agnoplay, Bitmovin, Flowplayer and JW Player.
Everything I write is on personal title and not affiliated with my role within 24i.
Being one of the oldest players in the field, NexPlayer has been in business for over 15 years. Contrary to most of the other parties we’re reviewing in this blog series, NexPlayer really puts their full focus on just that: the player, for more than 15 years! And they’ve got customers (and partnerships) to show all that experience and expertise. There are honestly too many to list, so I’d recommend checking out their overview page if you’re interested.
Think of all the platforms you could possibly support, subtract one, and then add one that’s totally unique you’ll not see anywhere else (for now). That’s what NexPlayer supports. Yes, they are on all the traditional platforms (Web and Mobile Android and iOS). Then there’s support for the majority of TV platforms (including Samsung Tizen, LG WebOS and even PlayStation and Xbox). Oddly enough, Roku is missing, which is really what you might expect in their offering. Finally though, there is the Nintendo Switch. Across all our other players we’ve discussed, this platform is definitely not supported anywhere else, except by NexPlayer. It makes them truly unique in the sense of supported platforms.
Name a feature, and NexPlayer probably supports it. Whether you’re looking for basic things like DRM and subtitles, or need the more advances features like server-side ad insertion, offline playback or thumbnail trickplay; it’s all there. What is more impressive about this though, is the amount of platforms all of these features work on. Yes, offline playback is generally only going to work on mobile apps. But besides that, every feature you can find will work across all of the devices (except Nintendo Switch). Even SmartTVs get support for SSAI, for example, which is no easy feat.
Third Party Integrations
What’s surprisingly difficult to find, unless you make your way to the developer documentation on NexPlayers github, are the third party integrations available. Which is a shame, because they do have some very interesting integrations available out of the box. With connections to the likes of New Relic, Mux and several AWS technologies like AWS MediaTailor, NexPlayer has a decent set of third party integrations readily available for use. I am missing some of the more popular analytics tools like Conviva or Adobe Analytics, which will have to be implemented on top of the player.
Ease of Use
NexPlayer is surprisingly easy to use on some platforms, especially given the amount of sometimes advanced features that are available. In case of the players for Web, Tizen, WebOS and other SmartTVs, all it takes for the majority of features is a simple configuration. With this configuration you can enable many things, from using thumbnails to advertisements and even server-side ad insertion, all available from a single configuration object. It is still possible to use separate function calls for advanced control of the player, catering to both standard and more custom usage of the player.
On the side of Android and iOS, development is a bit different. I wouldn’t immediately call it custom development from the start, but players for the mobile platforms do follow a slightly different paradigm from e.g. the web player. A lot of the players are controlled by function calls, with not that many features abstracted away into a single configuration object. It makes the integration of features slightly more time consuming and prone to errors.
Contrary to the other players in our comparison, NexPlayer doesn’t offer any pricing schemes up-front. All that’s possible (at the time of writing), is to reach out to NexPlayer and ask for the possibilities. What that really means is that the pricing will always be tailored to the needs and requirements that you have. Effectively, there is only an enterprise-tier.
It’s quite a surprise how many features are supported across every single platform. Even players for the more difficult platforms like Samsung Tizen and LG WebOS have support server-side ad insertion, which is no easy feat. Add the available third party integrations on top of that, and you can definitely tell that NexPlayer offers a well-rounded player. The way of integrating could be easier on Android and iOS, by following the usage for Web and SmartTV platforms. Overall though, NexPlayer looks to be a very strong contender in the player space, having features for most platforms that will make many end-users more than happy.
Thanks a bunch for reading this fifth entry of my ‘commercial video player overview’ series, about NexPlayer. Next week we’ll be checking out the last player in our list: THEOplayer. Catch you next time!
PS. If you come across any factual inaccuracies in this blog, please reach out so I can address them. Thank you!