Silverlight will roast Flash in video, say sources / by Nate Westheimer

One of the joys of my consulting job at NPB is that I speak with a bunch of interesting folks in the online video industry everyday. In the past three months I've gone from by-stander to relative expert, and as with all learning, it's been incredibly fun. At last week's Streaming Media East, I saw Microsoft present its Silverlight. Now, I'm one of those MSFT-haters, and I side with Matt Mullenweg by knee-jerk, thinking that Silverlight is a "last gasp from a dinosaur." However, the more strategic side of me has been poking around, chatting up my video industry contacts about Silverlight, and I've been put in my place by nearly everyone when I introduce the question with any dismissive tone.

Here are some of the reasons I'm hearing that Silverlight will kick Flash's butt:

  • It costs less for publishers. Flash servers are terribly expensive, so CDNs charge you a lot to serve flash media, or your have to shell out yourself if you're doing your own streaming. Silverlight reduces this premium.
  • It costs less for developers. Getting a license to develop in Silverlight will be cheaper than Flash (these costs will likely meet at some point). In addition, big companies can leverage their investment in developers smart on Office tools, and use them on Silverlight projects.
  • It won't have plugin adoption problems. While Flash had to work hard to achieve its ubiquity, Silverlight will have an easy time. Just package Silverlight with your OS or OS updater (unless there's an anti-trust issue), and there you go. This issue will be fun to watch.

Of course in these issues lie the keys to its demise. If Microsoft can't get Silverlight into its OS by default, plugin adoption will be the core stumbling block. Then of course there's the chance that Adobe will just slash its prices to keep its developers and publishers. However, the game might already be won for them. One inside source today told me that one of the big three broadcasters would be going 100% Silverlight soon, and if MLB.tv is any indication, the advantages are so great that throwing away four years of in-house development (the current MLB.tv) will be worth going 100% Silverlight in one year.

This will be fun to watch.