Streaming video protocols

When you establish your own hosting video platform, you need to consider the types of the protocols that you will support. All major Media server companies offer a variety of solutions. You most probably will have to offer most of these solutions, depending on your customers’ needs.
This post explains the main protocol methods available and their advantages and disadvantages.

The following streaming video protocols are most commonly used.

Progressive HTTP Streaming:

Progressive HTTP streaming works on a standard web server that transfer media files to clients. The files are downloaded and stored on the end-user’s device. Generally, depending on the meta data located in the header of the media file – once a specific amount of data becomes available, the media can be viewed. In case the bit-rate of the player is greater than the download bandwidth of the end-user, the viewing experience will include delays (buffering).

A Progressive HTTP download is often the simpler option to choose from, as the protocol is commonly in use, and traverses proxy servers and firewalls easily.

The main disadvantages are :

1. Once the file starts to download the video quality can’t be changed – In order to change it, a new session needs to be established.
2. Wasted traffic and Bandwidth – You end-user might decide to stop watching at a certain point, but the file was already partially downloaded, and expensive bandwidth was wasted.

For internal Enterprise use, it is mostly the common method to use, as it requires minimal infrastructure changes.


For RTMP (a protocol developed by Adobe Systems) – also a traditional protocol, the connectivity with the end user is tracked for the entire session. The end user replies to the server with his actions.
The file splits into packets (which are dynamically changed), and the bit-rate adapts to the user’s bandwidth automatically.

Main advantages for the RTMP method are:

1. Save on bandwidth costs. End-User only downloads what he views.
2. A secure and IP protected stream – RTMP includes DRM support
3. Multi-casting delivery to many users.
4 More detailed analytics and reporting of viewers behavior. As the end-user constantly replies to the server with his actions, you can analyze and generate a report on how effective your video content is.


1. Requires installation of additional Server software.
2. Different proxy server and firewalls might block RTMP packets.

To conclude: When Bandwidth matters – RTMP is a good method to stream your media.

HTTP Based Adaptive Streaming:

The adaptive streaming was developed to support a better viewing experience and adapt the stream bit-rate to the user’s bandwidth.

HDS – HTTP Dynamic Streaming

As an alternative to RTMP, Adobe systems developed the HDS format, to allow for on-demand and live adaptive video delivery over HTTP connections.

1. One specific “source” file which contains different flavors in different sizes.
2. HTTP connectivity – stream through proxy servers and firewalls easily (compared to RTMP), and deliver on–demand and live content with maximum quality to a large audience.
3. Protected streaming – file encryption.

1. Requires installation of additional Server software.
2. Requires flash player
3. Does not work on mobile devices.


HTTP Live Streaming developed by Apple mainly to support iOS devices. As Android adapted the HLS standard it became the common method for streaming media to mobile devices.

1. As mentioned above – Access to mobile devices
2. Secure key distribution (using HTTPS) with a DRM system.
3. Adaptive bit-rate.

Requires installation of additional Server software.

Any streaming video content methods you choose, PandaOS will integrate it into your video hosting platform. Our vast experience at those streaming methods enables us to offer our services and consults per your needs.