HTTP Live Streaming Protocol And When To Use It?

Previously, Flash technology was used to deliver video content over the internet. Adobe Flash Player officially got retired on 31 December 2020 since it does not support modern browsers and therefore turned obsolete. Modern streaming protocol, HLS with an HTML5 player has become the standard protocol for video streaming on the internet. It is a positive change for the broadcasters and the viewers since HTML5 and HLS can be modified by the users and one can also get access to them without any extra expenses (free of cost). Moreover, they are safer, faster, and more reliable than earlier technologies. Yet several disadvantages are there in HTTP Live Streaming. Let’s dive more into the protocol and the working of HLS.

Table Of Contents

  • What Is HLS Protocol?
  • Core Highlight Of HLS
  • How Does HLS Work?
  • Devices And Browsers That Support HLS
  • When To Use HLS?
  • One Major Drawback of HLS
  • Final Thought

What Is HLS Protocol?

HLS, also known as HTTP Live Streaming is a video streaming protocol to deliver audio and visual content over the internet. This streaming protocol was launched by Apple in 2009. Earlier to HLS, most of the streaming was done using the QuickTime Streaming Server. However, it used non-standard ports to transfer the data. Therefore the firewall obstructed the RTSP (Real-Time Streaming Protocol) resulting in the slowing down of the web page. This all leads to the end of the QuickTime Streaming Server. 

HTTP Live Streaming protocol overcomes this issue of firewall obstruction. With this and several other factors, HLS become the most used streaming protocol for online video streaming platform.

Core Highlight Of HTTP Live Streaming

Several highlights make the HLS a better choice over other streaming protocols. The key benefits of this video streaming protocol have made it the universal choice. Some of the key benefits of using HLS are listed below:

Supported By Multiple Devices

One key benefit of using HLS is its compatibility. HLS is feasible for a large number of devices and security firewalls. Yet the latency that it provides is the downside of the streaming protocol. Using tools including CMAF and others to boost the speed is beneficial to delivering quick streaming. 

Video Quality Adaptability

In regards to the quality, HLS is the most adaptable and stands apart from the other streaming protocols. Video producers, on the server side, have the ability to encode live and VOD streaming at numerous quality settings. 

Availability Of Closed Captioning

HTTP live streaming provides a seamless user experience to the viewers while delivering the content to multiple devices. The protocol also supports subtitle/closed captions that are embedded in the content making it a plus point in streaming the video content.

How Does HLS Work?

HLS is one of the essential protocols for live streaming which is used for both live streaming and VOD streaming. The video content delivery to devices and programs works in a series/stages which include:

  • The capturing device (camera, microphone, etc.) records the content.
  • Content is transferred to a live video encoder from the capturing device.
  • The live encoder communicates the video content to a video hosting platform through RTMP.
  • The video hosting platform uses the HLS ingest to transfer the video content to the HTML5 player.
  • HTML5 player helps embed the video content directly into the web page, making delivery seamless to every streaming device.

Working with HLS requires two fundamental software solutions which are a live video encoder and a video hosting platform. If you are streaming with HLS, you need to ensure that the software offers the protocol and the feature mentioned.

Devices And Browsers That Support HLS

HTTP Live Streaming protocol is known for its support for multiple devices and various browsers. Originally made for iOS, HLS now supports many browsers including Safari, Chrome, Edge, and devices including macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, etc. Due to its ability to be accessible with different devices, is often considered a universal protocol. 

When To Use HTTP Live Streaming Protocol?

It is the most up-to-date protocol used in the video streaming industry. Yet there are many queries regarding the use of the protocols. It is the best option for those who are targeting a vast mobile audience. The core reason for using HLS are listed below:

Streaming On Mobile Devices

Mobile devices get the majority of internet traffic. Streaming video content over mobile devices will help to increase traffic. Using HLS will be inevitable here since it supports most iOS and Android devices. 

Streaming Using HTML5 Video Player

The HTML5 video streaming player is the standard player to play video content on most browsers, apps, websites, and different mobile devices. HTML5 player with HLS is a great choice to reach out to a larger audience.

One Major Drawback of HTTP Live Streaming Protocol

With wholesome benefits, HLS has one major disadvantage which is latency. HTTP Live Streaming has a higher latency rate than any other video streaming protocol. The standard delay that an HLS bring is of about 30 seconds. In short, the content takes around 30 seconds to reach the screen of the viewer. The delay can turn into a major issue if you are watching a live sports event. Here every movement, every commentary, and every second delay can bring a negative user experience. However, video streaming companies across the globe are working to reduce it. 

Final Thought

HLS protocol is widely supported in modern times because of its high-quality and dynamic features. With this article, we have tried to bring in-depth information about the HLS protocol and the cases in which it can be used. We hope you have got the right foundation of what HLS is, core highlights, how it works, when to use it, and its drawback in detail. We will surely come up with all information that will give an insight into the world of OTT!

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