We live in a world where people value information delivery mediums as much as they do insight. Video has become the most palatable source of ingesting information for people, with the average person spending over 100 minutes (or more) consuming video content on a daily basis as of now in 2022.
Consequently, video streaming protocols are becoming more and more important for businesses not only to ride this new wave of consumer behavior but also to stay relevant in the market and future-proof their businesses with engaging streaming services in place.
While most businesses realize the need for video streaming protocols, it can often be overwhelming for their teams to decipher what technology best suits their streaming model, which protocols will solidify their initiatives, and how to make an informed buying decision. The technologies are complex and the vendors often focus more on marketing jargon than concrete, practical insights.
In this blog, we will solve all these challenges, helping you understand different protocols, differentiate them from one another, and explore which use cases suit them the best. We will share insights that will also help you evaluate them and find out which protocol for video streaming best suits your OTT business.
Meanwhile, it might also interest you to read, How to create a video streaming app like Netflix? Features, tech stack, and costs
What is a video streaming protocol?
A video streaming protocol is a standardized method used for the delivery of video files to users over the internet. These protocols ‘codify’ the software programs, administering rules that govern the delivery of video media. Streaming protocols and HTTP protocols are used for the purpose of video delivery, depending on the server type. Real-time messaging protocols are used in the case of dedicated streaming servers. In the case of regular servers, HTTP-based protocols facilitate adequate streaming.
Each time a user requests to watch a video on the internet, either of the above-mentioned protocol for video streaming comes into effect, based on the kind of server request made.
Which protocols are most commonly used for video streaming?
Let’s briefly summarize the most common video streaming protocols out there. This will not only give you a good video streaming protocol comparison but will also show their potential use cases.
Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)
This TCP-based protocol for video streaming is used for low-latency communication of video and audio files over a dedicated server. This protocol was developed by Macromedia to stream audio/video data between the Adobe Flash Player and the Adobe Flash Communication Server. However, a version of the protocol was also released for public use.
RTMP encoders are widely used by content distributors around the world. A recent study indicated that 76% of content distributors use RTMP for their services, making it one of the most popular protocols out there.
Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)
RTSP can best be described as a ‘presentation-layer’ protocol that gives users play and pause capabilities while streaming videos over the server. The most common use case for this protocol for video streaming lies in surveillance architectures, like CCTV cameras.
HTTP Live Streaming (HLS)
Developed by Apple, this video streaming protocol was released in 2009 and has been used widely ever since. Initially, the protocol was only compatible for Apple devices. But now, it is open for other use cases, with professional broadcasting being one of the most common applications of HLS.
Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH)
Developed by the Moving Pictures Expert Group in 2010-11, this open-source, codec-agnostic protocol for video streaming has pretty much become the industry standard alternative for HLS.
SRT (Secure Reliable Transport)
If your business is looking for a trusted alternative for proprietary transport technologies, SRT is the protocol you want in your infrastructure. The protocol facilitates reliable, uninterrupted streaming and is also being widely used for tasks like recovering lost packets and even preserving timing behavior across the public internet.
Needless to say, this protocol is becoming increasingly popular, with one interesting case study being the virtual NFL draft of 2020 that was able to successfully connect 600 live feeds.
These were the most commonly used real-time video streaming protocols you must know about if you want to dive into the world of video streaming for business. Needless to say, there are other protocols like Microsoft Smooth Streaming Protocol and Adobe HDS, but they are excluded from the blog as they are slowly dying and more agile, adaptive, flexible alternatives are taking their place.
The UDP Vs TCP debate
To make a long story short, a transmission control protocol (TCP) is connection-oriented, whereas a user datagram protocol (UDP) is connectionless. While both hold their merits and demerits depending on their use cases, the major difference between the two lies in transmission speed.
UDP is faster and more efficient than TCP. However, it does not support the retransmission of lost data packets, or error-checking, like TCP does. TCP needs a three-way handshake while transmitting data, which makes it a bit slower to use as compared to UDP—however, UDP transmission, as fast as it may be, is riskier to data loss and corruption as compared to TCP.
UDP is most frequently used by protocols like SRT, with protocols like HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) utilizing TCP.
Now, let’s discuss the factors you need to keep in mind while choosing your video streaming protocols.
Considerations for choosing streaming protocols
The average user streams his/her content over a variety of devices, demanding the utmost convenience from every single medium. If mass appeal is your motto and mass use is your aim, you must focus on the compatibility of your video streaming protocols.
Your preferred video stream protocol must be compatible with different devices—and capable of delivering uninterrupted streaming at a reasonable latency. We recommend HLS for this use case.
If you are in the business of broadcasting and streaming live events, you know the value of having a real-time streaming protocol at your beck and call. Once again, HLS suits this use case as it facilitates streaming on ultra-low latencies, with minimal to no disruptions.
In addition, RTMP and SRT also facilitate low-latency streaming, with WebRTC delivering real-time latency. Depending on your requirements, these are worth having a look as well.
The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality of the content you can deliver—and the higher the customer satisfaction, if you are an OTT enterprise. Adaptive bitrate encodes your content at multiple bit rates, allowing you to deliver good quality, even at slower connections. This is a parameter that must always be kept in mind while choosing a video stream protocol for your OTT platform.
We recommend HLS and MPEG-DASH protocols if you need adaptive bitrate—and if you are an OTT platform, you definitely will!
Want to know how much does OTT app development cost? Head on to our comprehensive business guide to custom OTT development.
Privacy and security must always be considered when choosing video streaming technology. While HLS provides standard security that is adequate for most enterprises around the world, if you want to go after the best security standards (and privacy features) available, you can embrace SRT as the preferred protocol for video streaming for your business.
Helping your OTT business skyrocket—from streaming protocols to platform development
Now that we have discussed the most popular video streaming protocols out there and have shed light on the most important factors to keep in mind while evaluating them, let us illuminate you on what we at Appinventiv are doing to help OTT businesses build and deliver exceptional services.
We are the industry-leading video streaming app development company that offers custom video streaming platform development services for clients that seek market dominance.
Our services help you determine which media streaming protocols to use, build an adequate infrastructure, integrate them well, and offer your users great omnichannel viewing experiences they can appreciate.
To learn more about our services, or to understand which video streaming protocols are ideal for your business, you can connect with our team of experts and book a free consultation.
Q. Which is the best of all the web video streaming protocols out there?
A. While the answer to this question will differ for different use cases, one of the all-time best protocols for video streaming (considering the latency, bit rate, and use cases) is the HTTP live streaming protocol (HLS). Needless to say, it is the most commonly used in the industry right now.
Q. Which video streaming technology is best for low-latency streaming?
A. The HTTP live streaming protocol (HLS) is undoubtedly the best low-latency protocol out there if it is optimized for the use case.
Q. UDP or TCP? Which is better for video streaming?
A. If you are planning to record the content that you are streaming (to facilitate users to access it whenever they need it), TCP is what you would want to go after. On the other hand, if video-on-demand is not your aim and you want to do live broadcasting, you would want to invest in a live video streaming protocol like UDP.
Q. How much does it cost to build a video streaming platform?
A. The cost to build a video streaming platform varies greatly depending on the type of platform you want to build, features you want to integrate, tech stack you want to use, and so on. However, on average, the cost to develop a video streaming platform like Disney+ can range from $40,000 – $250,000.