BBC News is trialling the use of embedded Flash videos on its story pages.
The Macromedia animation and presentation format has spurred the growth in websites like YouTube and Dailymotion because visitors are not required to install and launch separate applications to watch video.
Now the corporation, which currently uses RealMedia and Windows Media to show online news videos in pop-up windows, is weighing up a switch to the embedded format.
The team last week published Flash videos on stories about Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and household technology; the latest, today, includes footage on a new programming tool from MIT. Each video ends with the tagline: “We’re trying something new”.
The development will be on offer for a limited period and the BBC is soliciting readers’ feedback on the new format.
Back in January, BBC News developer Kevin Hinde explained that the video functionality previously available in Flash, which has its origins in more arcane multimedia presentations, was too poor to use at the site.
However, the release in 2005 of Flash 8 offered a significantly improved video codec, making lip syncing more palatable, and allowed the new wave of easy-to-use, in-page video players used by the likes of YouTube to gain significant popularity.
Despite this technological development and the fact that some online newspapers began to use videos embedded on story pages the BBC continued to work what Hinde had called its “huge investment” in the RealNetworks and Microsoft formats.
Criticism has been aimed at the Beeb for tying its proposed iPlayer on-demand web TV platform too closely to Microsoft software, barring Mac and Unix users, despite the emergence of a Flash video platform that could work across more operating systems.
Writing about better integration of video and text, website editor Steve Hermann yesterday said: “This point has come up before and is clearly something we should bear in mind – we are looking in general at how video relates to text stories – there’s an example of a different approach here.”