Sep 09, 2020, 11:36 AM

The In-Depth Guide on Video Streaming Protocols [for non-tech founders]

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SpdLoadA Startup Development Company

Video streaming is one of the most trending concepts in the current time. As per statistics, video streaming is expected to account for 82% of internet traffic in 2020. The core reason behind this is the availability of smartphones. Currently, there are around 3.5 billion users that own a smartphone around the world.

As most of the viewing of video content happens on smart devices, this era has seen an elevating development in technology. Apart from the video quality enhancements, one of the key developments that also forms the foundation of streaming is video streaming protocols.

If you are able to view a web series on your device, be thankful for the video stream protocol. After all, it is responsible for the successful delivery of the video content on your device. A video streaming rules act as a sender of data on one device and ensures successful reception on the other device.

There is much more to uncover regarding the protocols of video streaming. Just hold your horses as in the coming sections, we are going to take a comprehensive look at all the aspects related to streaming technologies. Let’s begin!

What Is the Streaming Protocol?

Now is the time to answer the most anticipated question. But before that, let us see what a protocol means.

A protocol is referred to a set of rules and regulations that need to be followed by the two or more entities to carry out communication in a system. It also decides how data is transmitted between two or more entities of a system.

The contents of a communication technologies are:

  • Syntax: It is defined as the structure and format of the data. The way data bits are arranged in the message is defined as its syntax.
  • Semantics: The logic that governs the formation of the message is classified under semantics.
  • Synchronization: The part of the protocol that maintains the synchronization of the data.
  • Error recovery methods: This part of the streaming layout takes care of errors that may occur in data transmission like data corruption.

There are different types of protocols based on the type of application. Some of the major networking protocols are:

  • HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol
  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol
  • Email Protocols: POP3, IMAP, SMTP, etc.
  • TCP: Transmission Control Protocol
  • UDP: User Datagram Protocol
  • RTSP vs. RTMP
Video Streaming Protocols

The basic definition of a streaming protocol is an entity that is used to deliver data over the internet, no matter the streaming types, audio, or video.

On the other hand, a video stream protocol is a standardized method of delivering video content to the users. In case of video, the stream is broken into small chunks and transferred over the network. On the receiver’s side, it is reassembled into one piece and fed to the user.

The video streaming protocols can be in the following three layers of the network:

  • Application layer
  • Presentation layer
  • Session layer

The placement of the streaming frameworks varies based on their type. Video delivery does not just rely on one type of protocol; there are various aspects in a video that depend on different protocols like:

  • Streaming protocols like RTMP and RTSP help in speedy video delivery. The core reason that governs speedy delivery is the use of dedicated servers by the streaming technologies.
  • HTTP-based protocols, on the other hand, rely highly on regular web servers to deliver the optimized viewing experience to the users. The HTTP based protocols sit on top of the TCP protocol that helps in maintaining sessions between the communication devices. They are different from RTSP and RTMP.

The use of TCP protocol makes the data transmission easy and secure as it involves a three-way handshake while transmitting data.

What Isn’t the Streaming Protocol for Video?

Now, there are some of us who would be a bit confused about the concept of video streaming protocol. In this segment of the article, we will take a comprehensive look into that and other aspects that may or might have confused you.

First off, the technologies of video streaming are mostly confused with codecs and container formats. It is crucial to know that there is a significant difference between the three. The following section will explain them in detail.

Codecs and Streaming Protocols

Yes, both of the Codecs and Streaming Frameworks are used in the online streaming world for various streaming types. But they are not the same. If we go by general definition, you already know what a video streaming protocol is.

A video codec is expanded as a coder and decoder; it is a tool that is used to make video files smaller than the recorded files.

If you are a smartphone user, you might have observed that the videos recorded by your smartphone are pretty big in size. And the same goes for the pictures. Take an example of a video that has a frame rate of 24fps. If we assume that each picture is of 1.5 Mb, the video’s size will be remarkably high.

This will lead to the requirement of more storage space on the server and, consequently, more cost. This is where the video codec is advantageous. The codec compresses the video data to reduce the video’s size and, thus, saves space.

Now, you must be wondering, how does it happen? The detailed process is a bit complicated, but here is a simple example of it. If one of the sections stays black for some time in a video, the codec will remove that section while keeping a reference to it.

This is how codecs vary with respect to the video stream protocols.

Video Stream Protocols and Container Format

Another aspect of video streaming that is mostly misunderstood is the container format. It actually acts as a container or a package that is used for transmission of the video content.

Now, the streaming protocol and the container format may seem similar, but they are not. The basic difference is:

  • A video streaming technology is used for the transmission of any type of content.


  • A container format is a package that carries the video chunks along with all the necessary information. The container package has compressed video, audio, timing information, subtitles, and other metadata.

Another thing about the container format is that it defines how content is stored inside the chunks. The data is arranged the way it will stream.

Some of the common container formats are:

  • MP4
  • M4V
  • AVI

So, this is the difference between a streaming protocol, container format, and a codec.

Here is a classic example to understand it better. If you are a seller of fabrics, the machine you use to compress the fabrics is the codec. The container in which you pack your fabrics for transfer is the container format. Lastly, the medium used for transfer like the vehicle, its driver, etc. act as the streaming protocol.

Read the full guide on what are video streaming protocols at SpdLoad.



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