What You Need To Know About Video Streaming Protocols

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Video Streaming is a well-known technology and term now – be that in the field of Entertainment, Ecommerce, or Education. The development of video streaming in various realms is constant – as are the updates that we get on the same, and the augmentation of our information and skills related to it.

If you are in the business of video streaming, the basic thing that you should be able to do is live stream capably. From recording the content, to uploading the video securely, to streaming the matter to the viewers – the process has to be smooth in order to be easy, and effective.

No matter how much a company, a business, an entrepreneur, or an individual knows about video streaming, without a sound knowledge of video streaming protocols, however, all information on the subject remains incomplete.

What is the meaning of a Video Streaming Protocol?

A video has to get broken into small chunks in order to get streamed. The chunks are then dispatched sequentially, and they are played as they are received.

In the case of live video streaming, the source video is one that is directly from the camera. If it is not live video streaming, the video gets sourced from a file. Most video files, however, are not designed, at the outset, for streaming.

A standardized method of delivery that breaks a video up into chunks, dispatches the chunks of the video in sequential order for viewing, and then reassembles the chunks into the whole video again is known as a Video Streaming Protocol.

This can be looked upon as a basic version of a Video Streaming Protocol.

Some of them can turn out to be pretty complex, too.

  • Some Protocols work only on some specific systems.
  • Some focus on DRM / Digital Rights Management.
  • Many are ‘Adaptive Bitrate’ Protocols that can deliver the best quality that can be supported by a viewer at any given time.
  • There are some Protocols focusing on the reduction of Latency – that is the delay that takes place between the occurrence of an event in real life, and the depiction of it on the screens of the viewers.

There are, as we can see, a lot of differences between the various kinds of Protocols related to Video Streaming.

Just as there is a difference between a Protocol, and a Codec.

The word Codec refers to Video Compression Technology.

There are various separate Codecs for various purposes:

  • H.264 – known as the Video Codec that is most common – is used for online video

whereas

  • Apple ProRes is often brought into use for video editing.

While we are at it, let us understand what Format means, too.

The term Format is often used to refer to a video file’s Container Format. It is just a sort of ‘box’, usually containing the

  • Video File
  • Audio File
  • Metadata.

The Container Formats that are common are:

  • .avi
  • .m4v
  • .mp4

Now that we have an idea of what Video Streaming Protocol, Codec, and Format mean, let us take a look at their relationship with each other.

Imagine you have to dispatch some woolens to a destination. You exert pressure – or use some sort of a machine / tool to do so – to compress the woolies together to save space and take the shape of a bundle. Then the woolens are carried to your destination by a boxcar.

Now imagine that those ‘woolens’ are your Video. The ‘tool / machine’ that compresses them is the Codec. The ‘boxcar’ that carries the matter to its destination is the Container Format. Then what are the Video Streaming Protocols, you want to know? They are the ‘drivers’, the ‘tracks’, and the ‘signals’ that convey the woolies to their goal.

It would be relevant to mention here that the maximum number of Video Streaming Protocols support only some specific Codecs.

Let us look at some common Video Streaming Protocols, now:

HDS / HTTP Dynamic Streaming. The Flash-based HDS is the entry of Adobe into the Video Streaming Protocol world. It is known for high quality, and adding support for Adaptive Video Streaming. HDS is popular for streaming events where seconds matter – such as sports – because it is good in the matter of Latency.

For whom can HDS be recommended?

HDS is not much recommended, as broadcasters generally do not prefer to depend upon the weak Flash support technology to reach their audience. Also, the development of a Web Video around Flash support is looked upon as an impractical idea in today’s times.

MSS / Microsoft Smooth Streaming. An essential part of the Summer Olympics that year, MSS was introduced in 2008. MSS is supportive of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming. It has some dependable tools for Digital Rights Management, too. However, now-a-days it seems Microsoft-focused Developers, and those who work in the Xbox ecosystem are the only ones to favor MSS.

For whom can MSS be recommended?

MSS can be good for you if you aim to develop apps that are Windows-specific; or want to make Xbox users your prime target audience. Other than these two events, MSS does not usually get recommended for being a Primary Video Streaming Protocol.

Dynamic Adaptive Streaming Over HTTP / MPEG–DASH. This is one of the newest Protocols, with some major plus points:

  1. It is ‘Codec Agnostic’ – which means you can use it with almost every encoding format.
  2. It is supportive of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming – ensuring that the audience can always get the best video quality that can be supported by the speed of their internet connection.
  3. It supports MSE (Media Source Extension) and EME (Encrypted Media Extensions). These are standards-based Application Program Interfaces for Digital Rights Management that is browser-based.
  4. It can solve some technical issues associated with Compression, and Delivery.

For whom can MPEG–DASH be recommended?

MPEG–DASH is expected to be the standard technology soon. At present, only some major broadcasters are using MPEG–DASH widely.

RTMP / Real-Time Messaging Protocol. Macromedia had developed the widely used RTMP long back. RTMP is mostly used now for ingesting live streams.

For whom can RTMP be recommended?

RTMP is supported nearly universally. RTMP is robust. When it comes to ingesting streams, RTMP is par excellence. As a Video Streaming Protocol, RTMP provides streams that are very low on Latency.

HLS / HTTP Live Streaming Protocol. Apple had developed the very widely used HLS Protocol so that they could drop Flash from iPhones.

HLS is supported by –

  • Android Mobile Devices
  • iOS Mobile Devices
  • Smart TVs
  • Desktop Browsers.

HTML5 Video Players natively support HLS too. As HLS can enable a video stream to reach the maximum possible number of viewers, it is considered one of the best Protocols for scaling a live video stream before a large group of viewers. HLS standard supports Adaptive Bitrate Streaming. It can dynamically deliver video streaming of the finest quality at any given point of time. HLS can support the H.265 Codec which is the latest one. This can deliver double the video quality at the selfsame File Size as H.264.

One thing is that HLS can have rather a high Latency; but there are ways to handle that, too.

For whom can HLS be recommended?

HLS is a robust Video Streaming Protocol that is being widely used for its plus points.

You know why it is absolutely essential for anyone having anything to do with video streaming to know all s/he can about Video Streaming Protocols? Because as per reports, less than a meagre 9% of viewers would return to a website during the process of a video streaming, if they had to experience a video failure. Delivering the highest quality of audience experience, with the help of an adaptive, and widely compatible Video Streaming Protocol, therefore, is a basic requirement for the development of any video streaming company or business.

Whether you are planning to live stream sports or events, stream live video on your site, broadcast professional events live, or even if you are thinking of making your videos available on demand, knowing as much as you can about the business of video streaming – Protocols and all – is what is going to help you ahead.

Feel most welcome to get in touch with us at Ascentspark Software for a consultation related to all things Video Streaming, VOD, et al, absolutely free of charge. We can also provide you with completely customized solutions.

Posted in Android, Articles, iOS, Mobile App Development, PHP, Programming, Web Development on Nov 08, 2019.

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