6 Most Used Streaming Protocols — Quick Guide- Ant Media Server

What is a streaming protocol?

Most used streaming protocols

  • RTMP
  • RTSP
  • WebRTC
  • HLS
  • SRT
  • CMAF

RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol):

RTMP streaming protocol technical specifications:

  • Audio Codecs: AAC, AAC-LC, HE-AAC+ v1 & v2, MP3, Speex
  • Video Codecs: H.264, VP8, VP6, Sorenson Spark®, Screen Video v1 & v2
  • Playback compatibility:
  • Not widely supported anymore
  • Limited to Flash Player, Adobe AIR, RTMP-compatible players
  • No longer accepted by iOS, Android, most browsers, and most embeddable players
  • Benefits: Low latency and minimal buffering
  • Drawbacks: Not optimized for quality of experience or scalability
  • Latency: 5 seconds

RTMP variations:

  • RTMP: The plain TCP- based protocol
  • RTMPS: Uses a secure SSL connection to minimize the risk of cloud-based streaming.
  • RTMPE: Uses Adobe’s proprietary security encryption and is a lighter-weight encryption layer than RTMPS.
  • RTMPT: Encapsulated with HTTP to bypass firewalls and corporate traffic filtering.
  • RTMFP: Uses UDP instead of TCP

RTSP (Real-Time Streaming Protocol):

RTSP technical specifications:

  • Audio codecs: AAC, AAC-LC, HE-AAC+ v1 & v2, MP3, Speex, Opus, Vorbis
  • Video codecs: H.265 (preview), H.264, VP9, VP8
  • Playback compatibility:
  • Not widely supported and rarely used for playback (Quicktime Player and other RTSP/RTP-compliant players, VideoLAN VLC media player, 3Gpp-compatible mobile devices)
  • Benefits: Low-latency and ubiquitous in IP cameras
  • Drawbacks: Not optimized for quality of experience and scalability
  • Latency: 2 seconds

RTSP variations:

  • The entire stack of RTP
  • RTCP (Real-Time Control Protocol)
  • RTSP is often referred to as RTSP

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications):

WebRTC streaming protocol features:

  • Ultra-Low Latency Video Streaming — latency is 0.5 seconds
  • Platform and device independence
  • Advanced voice and video quality
  • Secure voice and video
  • Easy to scale
  • Adaptive to network conditions
  • WebRTC Data Channels
  • Easy, browser-based contribution.
  • Peers open connections directly to each other.
  • Low latency and supports interactivity at 500-millisecond delivery.
  • Can be used end-to-end for some use cases.
  • Not the best option for broadcast-quality streaming due to certain features to enable near real-time delivery.

HLS (HTTP Live Streaming):

Features of HLS video streaming protocol:

  • Closed captions
  • Fast forward and rewind
  • Alternate audio and video
  • Fallback alternatives
  • Timed metadata
  • Ad insertion
  • Content protection

HLS technical specifications:

  • Audio codecs: AAC-LC, HE-AAC+ v1 & v2, xHE-AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC
  • Video codecs: H.265, H.264
  • Playback compatibility: It was created for iOS devices, however, now all Google Chrome browsers, Android, Linux, Microsoft, and macOS devices; several set-top boxes, smart TVs, and other players support HLS as it is a universal protocol.
  • Benefits: Supports adaptive bitrate, reliable, and widely supported.
  • Drawbacks: Video quality and viewer experience are prioritized over latency.
  • Latency: HLS allows us to have 5–20 seconds latency, but the Low-Latency HLS extension has now been incorporated as a feature set of HLS, promising to deliver sub-2-second latency.

SRT (Secure Reliable Transport):

SRT benefits:

  • An open-source alternative to proprietary protocols.
  • High-quality and low-latency.
  • Designed for live video transmission across unpredictable public networks.
  • Accounts for packet loss and jitter.

SRT limitations:

  • Not natively supported by all encoders.
  • Still being adopted as newer technology.
  • Not widely supported for playback.

CMAF (Common Media Application Format):

CMAF benefits:

  • Cutting costs
  • Minimizing workflow complexity
  • Reducing latency

Ant Media Server

Ant Media provides ready-to-use, highly scalable real-time video streaming solutions for live video streaming needs. Based on user requirements and preferences, it enables a live video streaming solution to be deployed easily and quickly on-premises or on public cloud networks such as Linode, AWS, and Azure.

  • Ultra-low latency with WebRTC is about 0.5 seconds.
  • The low latency with CMAF is about 3 seconds.
  • Low latency with HLS is about 10 seconds.



Ant Media Server, open source software, supports publishing live streams with WebRTC and RTMP. It supports HLS(HTTP Live Streaming) and MP4 as well.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ant Media Server

Ant Media Server

Ant Media Server, open source software, supports publishing live streams with WebRTC and RTMP. It supports HLS(HTTP Live Streaming) and MP4 as well.