What is the Streaming Protocol?

The Streaming Protocol governs the transmission of multimedia content over the internet, ensuring real-time delivery. Various protocols, such as RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). RTMP excels in low-latency live video streaming, while HLS breaks content into small chunks, enabling adaptive streaming. These protocols collectively enhance the user experience by optimizing playback and minimizing buffering for diverse streaming needs.

What is RTMP(Real-Time Messaging Protocol)?

RTMP, or Real-Time Messaging Protocol, is a proprietary protocol developed by Adobe Systems for high-performance audio, video, and data transmission over the Internet. RTMP was initially designed for streaming audio, video, and data between a Flash player and a server. It gained popularity for its low latency and real-time capabilities, making it suitable for interactive and live-streaming applications.

How Does RTMP Work in Video Streaming?

RTMP functions by establishing a persistent connection between the client and the server. It enables low-latency communication, making it ideal for live broadcasts, online gaming, and video conferencing.

Advantages and disadvantages of RTMP:


  • Low-latency streaming.
  • Real-time communication capabilities.
  • Widely supported by Flash players.


  • Lack of native browser support.
  • Security concerns, as RTMP doesn't encrypt data by default.

What is HLS(HTTP Live Streaming)?

HLS, or HTTP Live Streaming, is an adaptive streaming protocol developed by Apple. It breaks down video files into small chunks and delivers them over standard HTTP protocols. HLS was introduced by Apple in 2009 to support video streaming on iOS devices. It has since become a widely adopted protocol due to its compatibility with various devices and browsers.

How Does HLS Work in Live Streaming?

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) breaks video content into small, manageable chunks. These chunks are delivered over HTTP, allowing adaptive streaming. A manifest file, usually in M3U8 format, contains information about the chunks, enabling devices to adapt to varying network conditions and dynamically switch between different quality levels for smooth playback.

Advantages and disadvantages of HLS:


  • Broad compatibility with devices and browsers.
  • Effective adaptive streaming for varying network conditions.
  • Improved security as data is transmitted over standard HTTP.


  • Higher latency compared to RTMP.
  • Increased complexity in server-side implementations.

Key Differences Between RTMP and HLS:

Comparison of streaming quality: While RTMP offers low-latency streaming suitable for real-time applications, HLS provides adaptive streaming for improved video quality under varying network conditions.

Latency considerations for live streaming: RTMP excels in low-latency scenarios, making it ideal for live broadcasts and interactive applications. HLS, on the other hand, has slightly higher latency due to its chunk-based delivery system.

Device and browser compatibility: HLS boasts broad compatibility across devices and browsers, making it a versatile choice for reaching a diverse audience. RTMP, however, may require additional plugins for certain browsers.

Adaptive streaming capabilities: HLS stands out with its adaptive bitrate streaming, adjusting video quality based on network conditions. RTMP provides consistent quality but may struggle with varying bandwidth.

Security features: HLS, transmitting data over HTTP, offers improved security. RTMP, lacking default encryption, may raise security concerns, but encryption can be implemented separately.

Below is the comparison table between RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and HLS (HTTP Live Streaming).

Protocol TypeProprietary protocol developed by Adobe.HTTP-based protocol developed by Apple.
Streaming MethodReal-time streaming.Adaptive streaming with chunks.
LatencyLower latency (2-3 seconds typically).Higher latency (10-30 seconds typically).
CompatibilityWidely supported in Flash-based players.Widely supported on various platforms and devices (HTML5, iOS, Android, etc.).
Firewall/Proxy FriendlyMay encounter issues with firewalls/proxies.Generally more firewall/proxy-friendly as it uses standard HTTP ports (80, 443).
Adaptive Bitrate (ABR)Limited support for ABR.Designed for ABR with multiple quality levels and adaptive streaming.
Live Streaming FocusPrimarily designed for live streaming.Supports both live and on-demand streaming.
Encoding OverheadLower encoding overhead.Higher encoding overhead due to multiple bitrate renditions.
Supported DevicesHistorically Flash-based, limited on mobile.Widespread support on various devices, including mobile and smart TVs.
Playback ContinuityMore susceptible to interruptions and buffering.More robust in handling network fluctuations with adaptive streaming.
Use CasesOlder live streaming scenarios, interactive applications.Mainly used for on-demand video streaming, live events, and broadcasts.
Development StatusAdobe has officially deprecated RTMP.HLS is widely adopted and continues to be a standard for HTTP-based streaming.
SecurityLimited security features.Improved security with HTTPS transport.

Use Cases:

Common scenarios where RTMP excels:

  • Real-time applications like live gaming and video conferencing.
  • Low-latency requirements for interactive streaming.

Situations where HLS is the preferred choice:

  • Wide distribution across diverse devices and browsers.
  • Adaptive streaming for varying network conditions.

Which Streaming Protocol is Best for You?

Factors to consider when choosing between RTMP and HLS:

  • Latency requirements.
  • Target audience and device/browser compatibility.
  • Security considerations.
  • Adaptive streaming needs.

Overview of emerging trends in streaming technology: Emerging trends like WebRTC and low-latency protocols are shaping the future of streaming, impacting the decision-making process.

Addressing the evolving needs of the online audience: With the rise of mobile devices and diverse network conditions, choosing a protocol that adapts to changing demands is essential.

The Role of VideoSDK in Enhancing Streaming

VideoSDK offers real-time audio-video SDKs, providing flexibility, scalability, and control for seamless integration of audio-video conferencing and interactive live streaming into web and mobile apps.

Features that make VideoSDK stand out:

  • Real-time capabilities for interactive applications.
  • Compatibility with both RTMP and HLS for versatile streaming options.

Have questions about integrating HLS & LL-HTTP and VideoSDK? Our team offers expert advice tailored to your unique needs. Unlock the full potential—sign up now to access resources and join our developer community. Schedule a demo to see features in action and discover how our solutions meet your streaming app needs.

Does VideoSDK support HLS & LL-HTTP live streaming?

Yes, VideoSDK supports RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and HLS (HTTP Live Streaming), offering flexibility to choose the streaming protocol that best fits your application's requirements.

How can I integrate HLS with VideoSDK for my application?

Integrating HLS with VideoSDK is a straightforward process. The VideoSDK provides comprehensive documentation and code examples to guide you through the integration. You can follow the step-by-step instructions to seamlessly incorporate HLS streaming into your application.

Is it possible to use RTMP with VideoSDK for my live-streaming needs?

Absolutely! VideoSDK is designed to offer flexibility, and this includes support for RTMP streaming. The documentation includes clear instructions and code snippets to help you integrate RTMP seamlessly into your application, ensuring a smooth and reliable live-streaming experience.

Can I use both HLS and RTMP within the same application with VideoSDK?

Yes, you can! VideoSDK is versatile and allows you to choose the streaming protocol that best suits your requirements. Whether you prefer the adaptability of HLS or the low-latency features of RTMP, VideoSDK provides the framework to integrate both protocols within the same application.

What are the main differences between RTMP and HLS?

RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) is a streaming protocol for live content delivery, while HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) is a protocol that uses HTTP for on-demand video streaming, enhancing compatibility.