How many video players do we need ?

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 23, 2008
Updated • May 23, 2015
Music and Video

My initial answer was one - of course - but then I realized that it is not that easy to answer. One video player is enough to play most videos on my computer, I use SMPlayer for this purpose. But what about all those video portals that TV networks maintain these days or companies that provide you with access to rented videos or streaming video? It is beginning to get a little messy now.

Most TV companies that have published a video site that is offering video download options build their own video player for that.

We got NBC Direct and HBO on Broadband for instance, Netflix and Apple of course. That's four different video players each with its own set of restrictions and limitations.

If you want to use all four services you have to install four different clients that basically do the same but are not compatible with each other.

The messy part begins when you take a look at expiration dates and the like. Do you know when videos that you have downloaded expire in all of these services?

Is there a way to keep track of the dates without having to open all the applications to browse all downloaded videos?

What I mean is that it does not make much sense from a consumer point of view to create one video client per service. The companies on the other hand want full control of the player and their content which is probably the main reason why they do not cooperate with other companies that basically do the same thing.

I can't give an answer to the question above, a universal answer I mean. I still say we only need one player but we probably will end up with one player for each company that is entering the market which could be quite a few.

Update: Video on the Internet moved from downloads to streaming and with it came a switch to using web browsers as the main technology to stream these videos to customers.

While services are still using different technologies for that, for instance Flash or Silverlight, a shift towards HTML5 began recently and it is likely that this is going to be the format of the future.


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  1. gokudomatic said on January 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    with smplayer, you can seek through flv videos too

  2. avi said on January 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    i use vlc for everything except for flash video (flv) which i use the new real player for (because you can seek through videos).

  3. gokudomatic said on January 23, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    don’t exagerate. It’s not about a million but three or four players. MPlayer is very nice and good for almost every format but it doesn’t cover everything perfectly. Sometimes, I had to use VLC because the file didn’t work in MPlayer. Sometime, the problem is an unrecognized subtitle or audio track. But the only recurrent problem I have in SMPlayer (MPlayer alone is fine) is to launch the DVD menu; it starts immediately the movie with default prefs.

  4. Cheryl said on January 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I use SMPlayer for all my video playing needs. I really don’t see the point in having a million media players.

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