October 28, 2013

Netflix HTML5 Streaming May Mean Proper Linux Support

Although the streaming wars are far from over, it appears that Netflix may just have the upper hand. Indeed, thanks in part to premium exclusive content and brand recognition, the streaming service had a particularly noteworthy first quarter, smashing analyst targets to hit three million subscribers and over $1 billion in revenue. However, Netflix could be doing more to reach potential subscribers and it knows this.

In particular, the service’s reliance on Microsoft’s (News Alert) now defunct Silverlight technology has left Linux-based systems out in the cold. However, Netflix has been working on making the shift away from Silverlight to HTML5 video since earlier this year. While this shift is partly an effort to move away from Microsoft’s no-longer-supported technology, the folks over at Netflix have confirmed that Linux support may be part of the equation.

According to a chat with Netflix support that was originally posted on Reddit, before making its way over to Muktware, the Netflix team is currently running tests to see if its new HTML5 player will mean Linux support. While this isn’t a definite answer, Netflix support added some reassurance, stating that “it is a possible chance that Linux will be compatible for sure.”

Although Netflix seems to be playing it coy, it seems very likely that Linux will see proper support soon, especially since competing services — like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Google (News Alert) Play — already offer this. In the meantime, there is a workaround that allows Linux machines to stream Netflix video, but performance is said to be less than ideal.

For those Linux users that are proponents of open technologies, though, the thought of Netflix on HTML5 must pose something of a dilemma. This is because Netflix, along with Google and Microsoft, has been pushing for some form of digital rights management in HTML5 — an attitude that has faced much opposition from open Web groups and even led to a drive to boycott Netflix.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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