oEmbed is a format for allowing an embedded representation of a URL on third party sites. The simple API allows a website to display embedded content (such as photos or videos) when a user posts a link to that resource, without having to parse the resource directly.
oEmbed allows the content provider to expose content from a web page (along with a basic set of metadata to support that), allowing an application to embed content on behalf of a user without assuming the user knows what to do with raw HTML code. Here's example JSON output from Youtube:
{"provider_url": "http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/", 
"title": "NOVA | Emergency Mine Rescue",
 "html": "<object width=\"480\" height=\"295\">[...]<\/object>", 
"author_name": "NOVAonline", 
"height": 295, 
"thumbnail_width": 480,
 "width": 480, 
"version": "1.0", 
"author_url": "http:\/\/www.youtube.com\/user\/NOVAonline", 
"provider_name": "YouTube", 
"thumbnail_url": "http:\/\/i3.ytimg.com\/vi\/NUrLEKfHB_0\/hqdefault.jpg", 
"type": "video", 
"thumbnail_height": 360}
Source: http://www.youtube.com/oembed?url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUrLEKfHB_0
When given a URL, for which there is an oEmbed endpoint defined or discoverable, an application can query the oEmbed service to retrieve the embed code and automatically insert it into the page. The great thing about this standard is aggregating media from any compliant source is now as easy as writing text, with all the heavy lifting done in the background. --- In preparing this post, I noticed PBS Video is offering the oEmbed discovery endpoint, however the offered URL returns a 404 error rather than embed content. So close. (looks like oEmbed works on some videos and not others..)