7 Top Video Player Use Cases

If you’re new to the streaming game, then an essential component to be aware of is the video player. Every component of the streaming workflow affects a viewer’s experience — such as encoding, transcoding, and delivery through a video CDN — but the video player is the only part viewers actually interact with.  

You’ve undoubtedly watched your fair share of videos in your life, which means you’ve encountered plenty of players. Honestly, compiling a list of “use cases” might sound odd because there is never a time when you WON’T need a video player in streaming. If you want to stream, play, or download a video through the internet, a player is inevitable. Videos are unwatchable without them.  

That said, you may not be aware of all the kinds of video players (or kinds of video in general) there are. Some are designed to make content downloadable while others enable you to stream with a variety of different codecs or protocols that reach different segments of your audience. Plus, they often require customization to achieve specific purposes and viewer experiences. Let’s dive into some of the most popular use cases for video players to get you thinking about what kind is best for you:  


Live Streaming 

Let’s start with the obvious one: live streaming. Live streaming starts with recording footage on a camera, encoding it, most likely transcoding it into different formats, transmitting the data through a CDN, and ultimately ending up on a viewer’s screen through a player. Whether you’re producing or watching a live event like a concert, graduation, conference, sporting game, interview, political debate, or anything else, a player is how the audience sees what’s happening.  

Video players (or media players, as they’re also often called) are also where you can implement interactivity features like hand raising and chatting. A live auction online, for instance, would require virtual attendees to place bids somehow, so the submission feature (or comments) could live in the player UI.  


Video On Demand 

The next most obvious is video on demand. Anytime you want to embed a video in a web page or stream content from a catalogue, your audience will watch it through a video player. The streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ all have their own video players that allow you to browse their libraries and select which titles to watch. As a business, you can choose an HTML5 player that’s compatible with your streaming workflow and allow your audience to watch your content whenever they wish.  

It’s important to note that video players are where the play, pause, fast forward, rewind, volume, captions, and other controls live. Could you imagine watching a video that doesn’t let you pause it or skip to a different part? Probably not because those controls are so ubiquitous and expected nowadays. They can make or break a viewing experience, so choose a player that has them all.  

An image of a laptop with streaming content playing on a media player displayed on the screen.

Advertising and Marketing 

Video players are also advantageous for advertising and marketing. We don’t mean pop-up video ads that appear on websites; we’re talking about ads that appear before, during, or after certain kinds of content. YouTube ads are an example, or advertisements that play on Hulu’s or Peacock’s cheaper plans.  

Allowing third-party advertising can be an excellent way to monetize your streams, so it’s beneficial to select a player that enables ad insertion. Some video players enable pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll placements (or only one or two) that let you decide when audience members see ads. You should think strategically and place ads in a way that makes you a bit more money without compromising your brand’s viewing experience.  


Video Galleries and Portfolios 

Video players are opportune for creating video galleries or portfolios on a website or in a mobile app. The format might look similar to VOD, but if you don’t have a large enough content library that requires a search function (or don’t want to use one), then you can display all of your video thumbnails on one screen for audiences to choose from.  

We also want to clarify that not every video has a distinct player. When you purchase a video player subscription, you can integrate its API into your streaming workflow (unless the player is already a part of the service you’re using, in which case this step isn’t necessary) and use it to play all your content. The player component likely has the feature that enables a gallery view.  


Video Conferencing and Webinars 

Media players are essential for video conferencing and webinars, too. They’re slightly different because they’re built for two-way streaming with features for screen sharing, collaboration, hosting multiple participants, and more, but are video players nonetheless. They often provide high-quality playback compatible with near real-time streaming workflows to best simulate in-person communication. This way, no one involved has to deal with frustrating freezes, buffering, or lags, creating a more seamless conferencing experience.

Graphic of streaming devices with orange backgrounds

Surveillance and Security 

As we’ve said, if you’re watching it, then you’re likely doing so through a video player — and that includes surveillance and security footage. This use case entails delivering live or recorded video from strategically positioned IP cameras, likely offline, to a viewing interface for monitoring and managing said video feeds. The player here is essential because it’s what security teams pay attention to and allows you to replay anything noteworthy.  


Making Content Downloadable 

Do you want your audience to be able to watch your content wherever they are, even when offline? Then a video player can make your content downloadable for later viewing (admit it, we all download a few things on Netflix for plane rides in case we’re not interested in whatever the in-flight entertainment is). This way, people can watch your videos without internet access and gives you a leg up over your competition if they require a network connection.  

There is no shortage of video players to choose from on the market, so it’s important to find one that fits your business’s use case(s) and is compatible with your streaming provider. Flowplayer is already integrated in Wowza Video and is available for Wowza Streaming Engine, our versatile player that not only allows you to customize its look and feel but is compatible with multiple codecs and protocols (including WebRTC). Plus, it empowers you to enjoy glass-to-glass streaming without piecing together workflow components from different providers. Click here to trial Flowplayer today.  


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About Jacob Yoss

Jacob is Wowza’s resident content writer, creating blog posts, case studies, and more that educate Wowza’s audience. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Jacob currently travels the world as a digital nomad and is also passionate about social justice, art, and fantasy literature.