Make sure YouTube defaults to HTML5 on WordPress

YouTube's HTML5 player has been known to offer several benefits over the Flash player, with the predominant reason being the "lightweight-ness" of HTML5. Unlike Flash, HTML5 does not require a browser-enabled plugin and has been argued to incur less processor resources. These kinds of benefits greatly increase the device flexibility of HTML5 over Flash, especially when considering mobile.

Even with these benefits of HTML5, YouTube had been reluctant to set its default player to the HTML5 one. Simply put, the technology needed to mature and overcome some limitations, especially those that made Flash attractive. A predominant one of these former limitations is the support of adaptive bitrate or (ABR). As stated by Richard Leider, YouTube Engineering Manager: "Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming is critical for providing a quality video experience for viewers - allowing us to quickly and seamlessly adjust resolution and bitrate in the face of changing network conditions. ABR has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks."

Now with YouTube's January 2015 announcement, which includes the above quote, their solution to ABR and several other issues like encryption and full screen support in HTML5 seem ready for primetime. It's now more important than ever to embed YouTube videos using the right tag (i.e., <iframe>and not <object> ) in your WordPress site in order to ride the HTML5 wave. If you're using an old plugin that is still using the <object> tag, we urge you to either switch to our plugin or use WordPress' built-in oembed support. In fact, you'll see that our plugin has deprecated the HTML5-first check box on the settings page since that option is now a standard.

To see if your site (regardless of if it's WordPress or not) is loading the HTML5 player, simply right click on a YouTube video that you've embedded on the site. As shown in the image below, a menu should be displayed and "About the HTML5 player" is listed at the bottom.