Yahoo Targets Youtube With Embeddable Media Player

Yahoo has just released a cool new embeddable media player, Yahoo WebPlayer, that supports MP3 and WMA files, as well as multiple services like YouTube and Yahoo Video. Yahoo has also launched a whole new site to attract publishers and developers and to encourage them to use the player when publishing audio and video across the Web.

Yahoo WebPlayer can be deployed anywhere with a single line of code, and it can be extended with additional HTML elements and properties. Well, almost everywhere. Yahoo encourages deployment on self-hosted WordPress sites, on Blogger, and on Tumblr, but notes that because of limited JavaScript and HTML access, it will not work on Facebook, MySpace, Posterous and hosted WordPress sites.

In contrast to the YouTube video player that can only play content from YouTube, the Yahoo! WebPlayer can play video and audio from any location, and opens up a potentially wider Library of distributed content than YouTube.

Beyond content, the Yahoo WebPlayer interface is very attractive, with all the basic features you expect out of a media player . The player hides off screen and slides in smoothly, lets me listen to my audio and watch my video, then gets out of my way. It is definitely a tool that publishers would want to use when delivering content to their users.

Obviously Yahoo is pushing the Yahoo Video video services as part of this, while also acknowledging the popularity of YouTube and the importance of content from your own sources. This is where making this into an API story gets harder. Youtube bundles an embeddable player along with their API, where the Yahoo WebPlayer is not bundled as part of a Yahoo Video Service API. The player relies on HTML Meta properties to pull video data from for playing videos from Youtube, Yahoo Video, and other services. So I have trouble selling this as an API story because there is no Web API to speak of. Yahoo will be providing an API for the Yahoo! WebPlayer that would allow programmatic creation of mashups, and mixed-media playlists, but this isn’t the type of Web API we normally cover here at ProgrammableWeb.

I guess my story isn’t about the Yahoo! WebPlayer itself or an API in particular, my story is more about deploying embeddable tools, whether they utilize RESTful APIs, or just Feed off the rest of the World Wide Web. Providing portable tools as part of your API strategy -- tools that can be widely distributed and that play nicely with other Web services -- can be an important selling point for your API.

Yahoo says, “This product is part of a larger Yahoo suite of products which will allow publishers to improve User Experience and engagement using Yahoo! technologies, tools and content.”

So stay tuned!

Be sure to read the next Video article: Tokbox Adds Live Video Archiving, Announces Pricing