I'm a london based in house one man production studio. I currently work for a large organisation who have decided they would like more video on their website. A debate has been going on for some time regarding formats. I work on a mac but most of the people wanting to view won't be. Currently i stream video in wmv and shortly .mov.
Question: recently someone came to me and said why dont you put all your video up as Flash files. 98% of people can view them. Is Flash a good alternative to wmv, mov, real etc. And if so why dont people like the BBC use it for viewing videos.
Flash 8 can be a good way to go. If you're willing to spend some money, then the VP6 codec (ie not the standard Flash 8 encoder that comes with most encoding suites) is worth it as Daniel mentions. There are a number of ways to go about encoding VP6 FLVs on the mac, from Flix and Squeeze, to my favorite, Compression Master 4. But I still wouldn't underestimate the ubiquity of Windows Media. Offering an option of Winodws Media or Quicktime (either SV3 Pro or Compression Master's MPEG-4) is especially a good option if you feel there may be value in allowing the user to download and archive the movie for later playback.
It seems no matter which format we select, you will occasionally find people who have issues (firewall won't permit streaming windows media, corporate IT departments don't update windows media player, Mac took a while to get updated media player).
Most people stay away from Real player as the software takes over your computer (not really but it tries to play things it can't play).
We are playing with Flash video in some new projects. Once we get people to update their Flash player, no complaints. As others have pointed out YouTube uses Flash and they have a huge audience.
I like Quicktime best, but especially on the PC side of the universe, not enough people keep that updated, or have it at all (especially in corporate setting)