HTML5 video: 25% H.264 reach vs. 95% Ogg Theora reach

Vimeo started last week with a HTML5 beta test. They use the H.264 codec, probably because much of their content is already in this format through the Flash player.

But what really surprised me was their claim that roughly 25% of their users will be able to make use of their HTML5 beta test. The statement is that 25% of their users use Safari, Chrome, or IE with Chrome Frame. I wondered how they got to that number and what that generally means to the amount of support of H.264 vs Ogg Theora on the HTML5-based Web.

According to Statcounter’s browser market share statistics, the percentage of browsers that support HTML5 video is roughly: 31.1%, as summed up from Firefox 3.5+ (22.57%), Chrome 3.0+ (5.21%), and Safari 4.0+ (3.32%) (Opera’s recent release is not represented yet).

Out of those 31.1%,

8.53% browsers support H.264

and

27.78% browsers support Ogg Theora.

Given these numbers, Vimeo must assume that roughly 16% of their users have Chrome Frame in IE installed. That would be quite a number, but it may well be that their audience is special.

So, how is Ogg Theora support doing in comparison, if we allow such browser plugins to be counted?

With an installation of XiphQT, Safari can be turned into a browser that supports Ogg Theora. The Chome Frame installation will also turn IE into a Ogg Theora supporting browser. These could get the browser support for Ogg Theora up to 45%. Compare this to a claimed 48% of MS Silverlight support.

But we can do even better for Ogg Theora. If we use the Java Cortado player as a fallback inside the video element, we can capture all those users that have Java installed, which could be as high as 90%, taking Ogg Theora support potentially up to 95%, almost up to the claimed 99% of Adobe Flash.

I’m sure all these numbers are disputable, but it’s an interesting experiment with statistics and tells us that right now, Ogg Theora has better browser support than H.264.

UPDATE: I was told this article sounds aggressive. By no means am I trying to be aggressive – I am stating the numbers as they are right now, because there is a lot of confusion in the market. People believe they reach less audience if they publish in Ogg Theora compared to H.264. I am trying to straighten this view.