Twitch Is Ditching Flash, Will Amazon Prime Follow Suit?

Twitch and its 100 million monthly users are (slowly) saying goodbye to one of the web's most hated products.

Jul 23 2015, 3:23pm

Image: Twitch/Facebook

Twitch, the streaming site of choice for gamers, is slowly ditching Flash and is moving to HTML5, as YouTube did earlier this year. The company announced Wednesday that it has moved all of its video player controls to HTML5, with a full switch to the protocol still in the works.

Twitch said in a blog post that it's "an important step to releasing the much-anticipated full HTML5 player."

It's not exactly the nail in the coffin that death-to-Flash folks are still waiting for, but it's not an insignificant move, either. Twitch boasts something like 100 million monthly users (this number fluctuates depending on whether there's some viral game being played, like Twitch Plays Pokemon), and the move away from Flash is a vote of no confidence in Adobe, whose embattled product has been vulnerable to all manner of exploits, malware, and crashes over the last several years.

Twitch originally announced it was working on an HTML5 player back in 2013, but the migration has happened much slower than anticipated. One of Twitch's internal developers recently posted on Reddit that it's been difficult to make the switch because so much of the site's infrastructure has relied on Flash for so long.

"The underlying HTML5 video playback works great and we've been testing it internally for a few months," the developer wrote. "The problem is that we do EVERYTHING in Flash right now, so we have to port every feature one-by-one into HTML/JS before we can release the player."

This move could have ramifications that extend beyond Twitch, which is what makes it so interesting. Twitch is owned by Amazon, so it's safe to assume that Amazon is keeping an eye on how the migration goes.

At the moment, Amazon Prime Video is still only available in Flash on Google Chrome (it can use Microsoft Silverlight, which has its own problems, on other browsers). If Prime followed Twitch in ditching Flash, it wouldn't be a huge surprise. And if that happens, well, then maybe the Flash-is-dying folks will have something to talk about.