NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

HTML5: Just Another Technology We Never Notice

HTML5: Just Another Technology We Never Notice


The best innovations are the ones we immediately take for granted. Things like Wi-Fi and HD are incredible the first time we experience them and once we realize they work really well, they fade into the background. A great streaming video app is like this, too; astounding one second, to-be-expected the next. But the reality is these technologies are amazing feats of engineering. And in the case of TV apps, are made possible by an even more hidden piece of incredible tech that is essentially unknown to the non-developer community, HTML5.

HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is the standard computer language used to create web pages. It tells browsers how to format and display content. This language has gone through a number of iterations, and the latest version, HTML5, is extra special because it enables multimedia content to be displayed on web browsers without the need for additional plugins like Flash. It supports audio and video in a way that allows developers to create consistent, smooth streaming video experiences that support anti-piracy technology, geo-location, and simple authentication on almost any device. And like past versions of HTML, HTML5 is royalty free, so any developer or designer, big or small, can build with it using one of the freely available open-source code libraries.

The possibilities of HTML5 are endless, but for those of us in the TV and internet business, its most important application is its ability to allow programmers to create portable app-based TV experiences. HTML5 enables TV Everywhere apps to be available across different brands of TVs, game boxes and other devices just like the Web runs on so many devices.

Because HTML5-based apps are relatively easy to develop and flexible to use, the TV Everywhere universe will expand rapidly over the next few years. Comcast’s new partnership with Samsung, for example, is possible in part because Comcast’s HTML5-based Xfinity app is portable to Samsung’s HTML5-based smart TVs. Plus, HTML5-based TV Everywhere apps can receive updates, improvements, and new features directly over the internet just like an iPhone. HTML5 means no need for a new hardware installation just to get a better experience.

HTML5 is a key part of the future of TV via apps. It’s enabling new TV devices and apps to enter the marketplace quickly and to compete aggressively. HTML5 is working behind the scenes, making this possible and doing its job seamlessly without ever saying a peep. And just like any good tech, it’s wildly impressive one moment, ordinary the next. Good thing tech has no ego.

This blog also appeared in CTAM Smartbrief. To sign up, click here.