Overview: Brightcove Player

In this topic, you will gain a high-level understanding of Brightcove Player including its strengths, video publishing options and basic player management.


The player provides a platform on which to build a flexible, extensible video playback experience.

Key strengths are:

  • Lightweight, HTML5 video player
  • Rich plugin environment to add features and functionality
  • Use of HTML, JavaScript and CSS to customize player appearance
  • Two player implementations for different environments
  • Rich set of features such as cue points, captions, localization, advertising, etc.
  • Native player SDKs
  • Plays both Video Cloud library videos and videos with Internet accessible URLs

Publishing videos

When you create a player you see three implementations for publishing the player. These implementations are:

  • URL
  • In-page embed
  • iframe

Each of these implementations can take two approaches. The most common approach is to use a dynamic player. This player can play many different videos. To accomplish this, the video ID is passed to the player at runtime, via a URL parameter, video tag attribute or JavaScript APIs. This is technically similar to a template web page that can be used for many different instances of content. A use case for this approach is a generic video player that is assigned different videos depending on which article or video the user is accessing.

A more specialized approach is to statically bind the video to the player by including it in the player configuration itself. This approach is similar to creating a static web page. The advantage is to reduce the number of calls the player must make to display a poster image or start playing the video, thus increasing performance. This can be done in Studio or using the API directly. A use case of this approach is a product page built with a player that contains a video detailing the single product.

Player management


Players can be created, customized and managed either through Studio or programmatically with the Player Management API.


Studio provides an easy to use interface to perform these tasks.

studio overview
studio overview

The Getting Started with Studio document provides an excellent starting point to learn about Video Cloud Studio.

Player Management API

The player management API's features fall into two major categories. Those categories and detailed strengths are listed here:

  • Centralized management
    • Automatic version updates
    • Create, update and activate players via API
    • Update thousands of players at once
    • Player versioning and rollback
  • Optimized performance
    • Pre-compilation of player assets
    • Embed thumbnail or video URLs in player
    • Deliver plugins through the same CDN

Further information on the Player Management API can be found in the Brightcove Player Management documentation.

Publish statically bound players

As noted above, you can statically bind a video to a player. This can be done in the player UI or via the player management API. For information see the Publishing Videos and Playlists with the Media Module and the Step-by-Step: Player Management documents.

In these cases, the video ID does not need to be included in the video URL used in the iframe or for a direct link, but it must be included in the <video> tag for an in-page embed.

Player type comparison

There are three different player types that make up the player environment for Brightcove. They are:

  • Video.js: An open source JavaScript and CSS library that provides a framework to make it easier to work with and build on HTML5 video. The Video.js project is sponsored by Brightcove, and Brightcove contributes heavily to the project.
  • Brightcove Player (Players module in Studio): A video player developed by Brightcove that uses Video.js as the underlying player framework. While you can use Video.js by itself, most of the time you're going to want to combine it with additional plugins and customizations. Brightcove cultivates the plugins, manages their compatibility, and keeps it all up to date as time goes on. The Brightcove Player forms the basis for all Brightcove video experiences.
  • Brightcove Player: The high performance service for creating and managing video player experiences. Designed to serve the needs of the world’s leading video publishers, Brightcove combines the Brightcove Player, the leading cross-platform HTML5-first video player, with a robust set of player management APIs and performance optimization services. Brightcove’s Native iOS and Android SDKs are also included.

The following information explains why choosing Brightcove Player over the open source Video.js may be to your advantage.

  • Performance Optimization: The player management service is responsible for optimizing the delivery of the player, optimizing each player by pre-compiling plugins, skinning assets, and thumbnails to minimize download size, then delivers them through a high-performance, globally optimized CDN.
  • Player Management: The player management capabilities allow users to easily keep track of player configurations and make changes. This is especially useful for customers with multiple player configurations including different customization and plugins and player styling - for different parts of their site or application. The Player Management service allows them to update the configuration of those players changing plugins, styles, and other settings - without changing the code for each page. Customers can simply re-publish the player, and these changes are automatically pushed out to the CDN.
  • Future Proof 3rd-party integrations: Brightcove works directly with partners such as comScore, Nielsen, Google/Doubleclick, Freewheel, and many more to make sure analytics and advertising plugins work properly. Moreover, Brightcove keeps up-to-date on all the trends with browsers and connected devices, to ensure that our player works flawlessly with any updates to third party web technologies. Some features provided in Brightcove's plugins are not available in open source, such as automatic switching between Flash and HTML5 for ad display using Google's IMA SDK, which is used to display GAM ads. Brightcove ensures that plugins are tested with the Brightcove Player, but not with every version of Video.js.
  • Industry Leading Support: Another important reason to choose Brightcove Player is that the service is supported by Brightcove. In general this means you, as a customer, have an experienced partner to help you every step of the way. With Brightcove you get faster time to market and a system that's guaranteed to work, and someone to call when it doesn't or if you have a question.
  • Development Costs and Time to Market: It's possible to build all of the functionality around an HTML video player yourself, as Brightcove has done, but it isn't cheap and it will take huge amounts of time. This kind of work is likely not the core competency of companies to which Brightcove sells, and it's therefore unlikely a company will be able to do it as well as Brightcove can, or for less money. Open source looks cheaper at first, but it requires much more time and effort to build a complete solution, and then there are on-going maintenance costs to keep the player, plugins and integrations up to date.

Self-hosting Brightcove Player

Although it is possible to host the files that make up download player, it is strongly discouraged. If that is done, that player is no longer supported by Brightcove because the player is no longer in the player managed environment.

Further information

The links below provide other Brightcove Player introductory information: