WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” Built-in Media Player vs Vimeo & YouTube

Three days ago, WordPress.org released WordPress 3.6 Oscar which boasts a slew of new features including:

  • The new Twenty Thirteen theme inspired by modern art puts focus on your content with a colorful, single-column design made for media-rich blogging.

  • Revamped Revisions save every change and the new interface allows you to scroll easily through changes to see line-by-line who changed what and when.

  • Post Locking and Augmented Autosave will especially be a boon to sites where more than a single author is working on a post. Each author now has their own autosave stream, which stores things locally as well as on the server (so much harder to lose something) and there’s an interface for taking over editing of a post, as demonstrated beautifully by our bearded buddies in the video above.

  • Built-in HTML5 media player for native audio and video embeds with no reliance on external services.

  • The Menu Editor is now much easier to understand and use.

My personal favorite is the built-in HTML5 media player which reduces the need for external video-sharing services such as Vimeo and YouTube. As a content developer I am interested in this feature because I feel it will enhance the professionalism of my website by removing third-party branding.

As an experiment I decided to upload two videos and view them on my Macbook and iPhone. I was curious to see how long it would take to upload and play a video using WordPress’ new built-in media player in comparison to YouTube and Vimeo. The experiment was conducted using Google Chrome 29.0.1547.32 beta on an AT&T 6 Mbps connection.

A 2 minute, 50 MB video shot in 720p and encoded in H.264 takes exactly 00:12:45.8 to upload to a WordPress 3.6 site hosted on iPage. The video is viewable immediately, but pauses for extended periods as it buffers. I have concluded that it takes approximately 13 minutes to upload and watch a video of that size on WordPress.

The same video took 00:12:42.4 to upload to a Vimeo Plus account and then an additional 00:01:57.2 to process in SD then an additional 00:02:19.9  to process in HD for a combined total of approximately 17 minutes. The extra processing doesn’t prevent abrupt skippage though. However, it should be noted that Vimeo protested the bitrate of the video tested. If converted in accordance to Vimeo’s compression guidelines the video file would have been 80 MB and would have added additional time to achieve the ideal result.

The same video took 00:12:07.9 to upload to YouTube and then an additional 00:02:09.8 to process for an approximate total time of 14 minutes. YouTube made no complaints about the file’s bitrate and playback was skip-less.

In conclusion, WordPress’ new built-in media player is the fastest method to upload a video, the video plays back in its original quality, but takes a considerable time to buffer when watching for the first time. The built-in media player attempts to get a head start for subsequent plays by loading a segment of the video when the page it’s on loads. This makes for a skip-less playback experience the second time around.