The market for video streaming services increased as more people cut the cord and chose to watch content from their smartphones and smart Televisions. Flash and RTMP-based streaming gained popularity as video streaming protocol technology advanced; they were initially used to broadcast live sports in the 1990s.
After a few more years of development, we got YouTube and Netflix, but it was Vine’s arrival that made video streaming a standard component of all our favorite social media applications.
Video streaming is a popular and convenient way to share content with viewers all over the world. However, streaming requires a robust protocol to ensure smooth playback and prevent buffering issues.
The livestream business is booming and expanding quickly, bringing its advantages to new sectors, platforms, and use cases like telemedicine, distance education, virtual events, and game broadcasting.
The choices for video streaming protocols have expanded along with these changes. We’ll get you up to speed with a high-level examination of the nine preferred streaming protocols and the three major types of streaming protocols.
What Are Video Streaming Protocols?
A streaming protocol is a set of rules that define how data is transmitted over the internet to deliver video content to viewers. Streaming protocols use a combination of codecs, servers, and player software to ensure that the video is delivered in the best possible quality and with minimal buffering.
A codec is a component of a video streaming protocol that reduces the size of your files by removing unnecessary data. When a codec processes a movie with a background that is static for a minute, for instance. The unnecessary visual data for each pixel is discarded after the first frame and only a reference is retained in order to save storage.
When the video stream data has been communicated by the protocol, container formats like MP4 and FLV specify how it is stored. This data typically consists of video files, audio files, and metadata.
What Are The Most Popular Video Streaming Protocols?
There are several video streaming protocols available, but the most popular ones are HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH), Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), and WebRTC. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) Protocol
HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is a popular protocol used for streaming video content over the internet. Developed by Apple, HLS uses adaptive bitrate streaming to adjust the quality of the video based on the viewer’s internet speed. It segments the video into small files, which are delivered to the viewer using HTTP requests.
In terms of scalability, HLS is highly scalable and can handle high volumes of traffic with ease. It can distribute video content to millions of viewers simultaneously, making it a popular choice for large-scale streaming events.
HLS is supported by most modern web browsers, streaming servers, and media players. This means that it can be used to deliver video content to a wide range of devices and platforms, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
HLS is widely used in the streaming industry and has a lot of support available. It is a reliable and stable option for streaming video content, with a large community of developers and users who contribute to its ongoing development and improvement.
Dynamic Adaptive Streaming Over HTTP (MPEG-DASH)
Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH) is a protocol for streaming video content over the internet that allows for adaptive bitrate streaming.
It was developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is an open standard, meaning that it is not controlled by any single company or organization.
MPEG-DASH works by dividing the video into small segments and then delivering them over HTTP requests. It uses adaptive bitrate streaming to adjust the quality of the video based on the viewer’s internet speed, much like HLS.
However, MPEG-DASH is platform-agnostic, meaning that it can be used on a wider range of devices and platforms.
In terms of scalability, MPEG-DASH is highly scalable and can distribute video content to millions of viewers simultaneously, making it a popular choice for large-scale streaming events.
MPEG-DASH is supported by most modern web browsers, streaming servers, and media players. It can be used to deliver video content to a wide range of devices and platforms, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
MPEG-DASH is an open standard, which means that there is a lot of support available from a large community of developers and users who contribute to its ongoing development and improvement.
Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)
To communicate music and video files between a streaming server and the Adobe Flash Player, Adobe created the legacy RTMP protocol. Since Flash is being phased out, its main use case has changed from delivering content to viewers to ingesting live streams via RTMP-capable encoders.
This indicates that the streaming platform receives the video feed from the encoder using the RTMP protocol before sending it to the user via the standard HLS protocol.
In terms of scalability, RTMP can handle moderate amounts of traffic with ease but may struggle with larger volumes of traffic. This is because it uses a dedicated connection between the server and client for each stream, which can become overloaded when there are many viewers.
RTMP is supported by most modern web browsers, media players, and streaming servers.
Some legacy streaming services still use RTMP, and it is still used in some niche applications, such as live-streaming video games.
In terms of scalability, WebRTC is highly scalable and can handle large volumes of traffic with ease. It uses a peer-to-peer architecture that allows clients to communicate directly with each other, reducing the load on servers and increasing scalability.
In terms of compatibility, WebRTC is supported by most modern web browsers and mobile applications, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. It is also supported by a number of popular mobile platforms, including Android and iOS.
WebRTC has gained widespread adoption across a variety of industries, including video conferencing, online gaming, and e-learning. It has a large and active development community, with regular updates and improvements being made to the protocol and APIs.
Choosing the right video streaming protocol depends on your needs and the type of content you want to deliver.
If you’re streaming video content to iOS devices, then HLS is the best choice. If you’re looking for an open standard protocol, then MPEG-DASH is a good choice. If you’re streaming live events, then RTMP is the best option.
Finally, if you’re looking for real-time communication between web browsers, then WebRTC is the right choice. Regardless of which protocol you choose, it’s important to ensure that it’s scalable and supported by the devices and browsers your viewers are using.