LoveFilm to drop Flash and move to Silverlight

2 Dec 2011

UK on-demand streaming player is to stop showing movies in Flash and will instead take on Microsoft’s Silverlight platform, the company has confirmed, after coming under pressure from Hollywood to deploy a more secure platform.

LoveFilm is one of the largest providers of home video rental by mail and streaming in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, France, Germany Denmark, Sweden and Norway. bought the company in 2008.

“We’ve been asked to make this change by the studios who provide us with the films in the first place, because they’re insisting – understandably – that we use robust security to protect their films from piracy, and they see the Silverlight software as more secure than Flash,” said Paul Thompson, streaming project manager at LoveFilm in the company’s blog.

“Simply put: without meeting their requirements, we’d suddenly have next-to-no films to stream online.”

Thompson said the change affects or applies to PS3, iPad, internet TVs, PCs, laptops and Macs.

“And very regrettably, Silverlight software is not supported on non-Intel Macs (those with an operating system of 10.5 or lower) or on computers using the Linux/UNIX operating systems. In fact, none of the solutions available to us allowed secure streaming to Linux users,” Thompson said.

HTML 5 has no security protections

He said HTML 5 was considered, but video streaming via HTML 5 is an open-sourced solution that is still maturing, and there are simply no security protections available within HTML 5 that would allow LoveFilm to stream content securely.

“Silverlight offers the best combination of security, quality and customer experience from a small number of available solutions, and the majority of our customers already have Silverlight installed.”

He added that Silverlight contains a technology called Smooth Streaming, which automatically adjusts the quality of the video stream to the best level for your internet connection.

“This reduces buffering for customers on a low-broadband speed, but then improves the streaming quality when broadband speed increases,” he said.

Flash software will continue to run alongside Silverlight until the first week of January and users are urged to download the new Silverlight software.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years