AI technology has been a gamechanger for the video streaming industry. Some of the largest video streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu use AI to provide the highest quality video streaming benefits to their customers.
Of course, there are still some limitations with using AI to create higher quality video streaming experiences. Last month, the Chief Content Officer for Netflix stated that AI is unable to do an adequate job recommending content to customers. He doubts even the most sophisticated AI technology will ever be able to provide quality recommendations to customers.
Nonetheless, AI is clearly having a huge impact on the future of video streaming in other ways. One of the biggest implications is with the evolution of new data protocols.
Online learning platforms offer unparalleled convenience, flexibility, and access to quality content. Knowing how to create an online learning platform can be beneficial for educational companies. One component often overlooked in this equation is the choice of video streaming protocol. Whether it’s delivering high-definition lectures or facilitating real-time interactive classes, the success of your online learning platform highly depends on the protocol you choose.
This article explores the most common video streaming protocols and the factors you should consider when choosing the one. Learn how the right protocol can enhance load times, video quality, security, and scalability.
Understanding Data Protocols that Are Being Reshaped by AI
A protocol dictates how data traverses from one communication system to another. These protocols layer on top of one another, creating what’s known as a protocol stack. Each protocol layer specializes in one specific function while collaborating with other layers. The base layer is the foundation, adding subsequent layers to the system’s complexity.
You use video streaming protocols to transmit data over the internet whenever you watch a live stream or on-demand video. These protocols function at various levels, including the stack’s application, presentation, and session layers.
To optimize your viewing experience, online video transmission uses streaming-specific and HTTP-based protocols. For instance, Real-Time Messaging Protocol operates using specialized streaming servers. HTTP-based protocols use standard web servers to elevate the user experience and scale swiftly. HTTP technologies like Apple’s Low-Latency HLS aim to merge both advantages, enabling low-latency streaming at a large scale.
AI technology is starting to have a monumental impact on the state of video streaming. We covered some of these changes in a previous article, where we pointed out that AI and data analytics tools can help with localization, personalization and many other benefits.
Commonly Used Video Streaming Protocols
You need to understand the nuances of each video streaming protocol to choose the right technology for a specific case. We’ve collected the features of the most common protocols.
HTTP Live Streaming (HLS)
Developed by Apple, HLS is an HTTP-based protocol. It breaks media streams into smaller chunks, served over HTTP.
HLS is highly compatible, supporting many devices and web browsers. It employs adaptive bitrate streaming and adjusts the video quality based on the user’s network conditions. Its security features include support for DRM and token-based authentication.
The latency of HLS usually ranges from 15 to 30 seconds. This protocol is also resource-intensive and needs more computational power for transcoding.
Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH)
This protocol by the Motion Picture Experts Group is a universal, open standard for streaming media over HTTP.
MPEG-DASH offers great flexibility and customization. It’s not restricted by licensing and is popular for many open-source projects. Like HLS, it can adapt to real-time network conditions, ensuring smoother experiences.
MPEG-DASH is less supported than HLS, especially on iOS devices. Also, its high customization level makes it hard to set up.
Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)
RTMP was made to deliver real-time audio, video, and other data between a Flash player and a server.
RTMP’s low-latency capabilities make it ideal for live streaming scenarios with instant delivery. A simple setup makes it easier to implement compared to HTTP-based protocols.
Nowadays, this technology is considered outdated by modern standards. It’s not natively supported on iOS and is increasingly less supported on Android. Another significant limitation is that Adobe no longer supports the Flash player, making RTMP less relevant.
Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP)
RTP specifies how programs manage the real-time transmission of multimedia data over unicast or multicast network services.
RTP is well-suited for applications requiring low-latency transmission, like VoIP, video conferencing, and interactive games. It supports many media formats and allows for multicast, enabling a single host to broadcast to multiple recipients.
RTP itself does not include any mechanism for secure data encryption. Thus, it won’t be a perfect option for scenarios where security is a prime concern. Also, it lacks built-in support for adaptive bitrate streaming. Thus, it often requires supplementary protocols like RTSP for control operations, adding to setup complexity.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Protocol
Selecting the video streaming protocol requires careful consideration of various factors. You should know how they influence a streaming service’s performance, reliability, and user experience.
It determines the delay between capturing video at the source and displaying it on the end-user’s screen. It’s critical for real-time streaming applications like gaming and live sports.
RTMP and RTP offer low-latency streaming, making them ideal for real-time events. Yet, HTTP-based protocols like HLS and MPEG-DASH often result in higher latency.
Scalability is the system’s ability to handle a growing number of users/requests without affecting the video quality.
HLS and MPEG-DASH are more scalable due to their support for adaptive bitrate streaming and CDN compatibility.
The streaming protocol you choose must be compatible with your audience’s devices. For example, smartphones, desktops, or smart TVs. It allows for maximizing reach and user experience. According to Oberlo, most web traffic — 55.5% — was attributed to mobile phones.
HLS is universally supported across various devices, whereas MPEG-DASH may have limitations on certain platforms, especially iOS.
Video streaming often involves copyrighted or sensitive content. Thus, a secure protocol is essential to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
HLS offers token-based authentication and AES encryption. MPEG-DASH also provides security but often requires additional setup. Even so, they are more secure than RTP, which lacks inherent security features.
Depending on the protocol, you might incur licensing fees. Costs needed for encoding, decoding, and delivering the content can also impact your budget.
Open-source video streaming protocols like MPEG-DASH eliminate licensing costs. Yet, its complexity may lead to higher setup and maintenance expenses.
AI is Changing the Future of Video Streaming
There are a ton of major advances with AI in the video streaming sector. This is one of the reasons that more companies are using AI apps to manage their video conferences.
Video streaming has become an integral part of our lives. It encompasses entertainment, news, education, and even healthcare. Selecting a streaming protocol plays a critical role in defining these services’ quality, reliability, and success. Each protocol boasts distinct advantages and limitations designed to cater to particular situations:
- the versatile HLS;
- the customizable MPEG-DASH;
- the low-latency RTMP;
- the real-time capabilities of RTP.
When choosing a protocol, consider latency, scalability, device compatibility, security, and cost factors, as each determines the provider’s capacity to deliver high-quality content.