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Understanding AutoPlay and why it doesn’t always work

May 12, 2021
Autoplay

What is Autoplay?

Autoplay is a feature used by some websites with at least one embedded video or audio element wherein the video or audio element starts playing, automatically.

If you have been with us for some time (or you are just finding out about us, hi, welcome to WpStream), you will find this little Autoplay toggle button in the settings before starting a live event.

The autoplay setting allows your broadcast to start automatically upon interaction with the page

What this basically means is that as soon as a viewer clicks on your live stream, it will play automatically. Viewers will not have to click on the play button and go through another step before they can start watching your broadcast. However, you will see this text right under.

“This is only achievable in some browsers”

Let me explain. Have you ever been on a website to look up a certain thing and a random, unrelated video starts playing automatically? Not to mention, you probably forgot to turn down the volume earlier or disconnect your speakers. To make things worse, you can’t actually find what video is playing and you keep scrolling up and down the page trying to find it and pause it. If the sudden loud noise doesn’t scare the living day lights out of you, you may at least find it slightly annoying. In an attempt to make viewer experience more pleasant, browsers will sometimes block autoplay to prevent this from happening.

Bringing it back to your live stream, this isn’t to say that your viewers will find your autoplay feature annoying. They won’t, simply because they have CHOSEN to watch the live stream and are expecting it to start automatically. They are consenting to watch your live stream by clicking on the live stream. However, their browser doesn’t know this and is unable to consider context. So much for Artificial Intelligence, huh? Often times, browsers will put all autoplay content into a box and then reject it- no matter the context, even if your viewer is expecting the live stream to start automatically.

What can I do to overcome this?

All browsers are trying to aggressively block autoplay on websites including Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. There isn’t a handbook or manual that they are using (or at least they are not sharing it with us), so no one knows exactly how you can workaround it. However, there are some things that decrease the likelihood of browsers blocking autoplay for your viewers.

For instance, the one thing that you can control as the broadcaster is allowing the live stream to start automatically while muted. The good news is that all you have to do is enable “Start Muted” it in your settings as well, right under the Autoplay option.

Enabling "Start Muted" will decrease the chances of browsers blocking autoplay

As the text states, this may increase the rate of autoplay in certain browsers. If a live stream will start automatically, the browser will want it to at least start without any noise and the viewer can simply unmute it themselves. Other than this, here are a few more situations that may stop browsers from rejecting your autoplay feature.

  • The viewer has interacted with your website before so the browser assumes that the site is trusted
  • If they are using Chrome Desktop, the browser looks at the viewer’s “Media Engagement Index” which is the rate at which the viewer interacts with media when online. The more video and media content they consume, the less likely it will be for the browser to block autoplay
  • If they are using Chrome Mobile and they have added your site to their homepage
  • If they are browsing through Safari, they must not be on power-saving mode

Conclusion

If you choose to add the “Autoplay” setting, make sure you enable the “Start Muted” setting as well. These two settings work best together in the sense that your viewer’s browser will be less likely to block autoplay. Other factors that affect autoplay concerns the user’s browser, and general usage of media content. But overall, you cannot control whether your viewers will be able to click on the live stream and have it start automatically. The best you can do is offer this and your loyal viewers will come back for more. This will lead to their browsers trusting you too!

Start your free trial with WpStream today and experience the ability to broadcast live events, set up Pay-Per-View videos, and diversify the way you do your business.

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