As we all know (or should know), Adobe will
stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020. Producing webinars is
a regular part of my business, and I officially
stopped offering webinars on Flash-based platforms last November because they were just
falling apart, and they presented too many unresolvable issues.
Adobe did try to move Connect from Flash
to HTML5 earlier in 2017. After several delays,
my account was upgraded, and we did produce
a successful webinar on that platform with few
user issues. But then Adobe rolled back the update. As of this writing, Adobe Connect is still
using Flash, and Adobe has made no announcement as to when it expects the HTML5 update
to be stable enough to relaunch. It will be worth
taking a second look at the traditional webinar
platforms in the future when their HTML5 solutions are more stable.
For now, however, I am exclusively producing webinars on what I consider a webcast platform: IBM Cloud Video.
I decided to stop doing webinars using
webinar-specific solutions after testing 15 alternative platforms and concluding that none
of the Flash-based or newer WebRTC solutions
would satisfy both my requirements as a producer and the expectations of my various webinar clients for viewer experience and reporting. I determined that I was better off producing
these webinars using IBM Cloud Video.
Benefits of Webcast Platforms
Producing webinars on a webcast platform
means you can deliver your video in HD or
even 4K at standard broadcast frame rates. One
webcast challenge is latency, because there is a
broadcast delay that ranges between 15 and 45
seconds. This broadcast delay is a benefit, as it
helps reduce dropouts when either the broadcast or the individual viewers have hiccups in
their internet connections or playback.
Webcast video is streamed to viewers in
groups of picture packets that create a buffer
for viewers. By contrast, webinars that deliv-
er a no-latency viewing experience are more
prone to dropouts.
In the transition from no-latency webinar
platforms to a broadcast-delay webcast platform, we educated the presenters that they
couldn’t expect their viewers to reply using the
chat as quickly as they could before. My clients
were initially concerned about the latency issue, but it turned out to be an easy trade-off
to swallow in exchange for a much smoother
Not using a Flash-based webinar platform
has virtually eliminated our support requirements because webcasts work across virtually
all browsers and mobile devices without the
user having to download anything additional.
We went from having to maintain three or four
support people on the phones, plus email and
chat support, to only requiring a single support person to handle everything for our larger webinars.
Using a webcast platform for webinars,
the few support issues we do encounter are
solved by a computer reboot or by switching
web browsers. It’s not that one web browser
works better than others; rather, we found that
browser-setting decisions previously made by
individual participants were blocking the feeds
of 1–2% of viewers. Rather than have them
switch their browsers to factory settings, launching or installing a different browser proved an
easier fix. In supporting thousands of webinar
viewers across all walks of life, I found it interesting that many of them could not identify the
browser that they were currently using, which
made troubleshooting very difficult. A webcast/
webinar solution that dramatically reduces the
number of viewers who reach out for support is
a huge win.
Here are some of the features that I use for
my clients who want more of a webinar experience than a strict one-way webcast broadcast.
Not all of these features are available on all
webcast platforms. I am subscribed to the IBM