Video Bitrate vs. Resolution: 4 Key Differences and Their Role in Video Streaming — Ant Media Server

What are video bitrate and video resolution?

Video bitrate refers to streaming speed and file size. It measures the speed of transfer over the internet and how much bandwidth it will consume. Essentially, it’s the amount of data (bits) required to encode each second of video. The higher the bitrate, the larger the file.

What is FPS?

We should also mention video frame-rate, which is measured in frames per second (FPS). High frame rates help broadcasters capture motion, such as in live sports matches, and are also used for slow-motion and other cinematic effects.

4 key differences between video bitrate and video resolution

1. Units of measurement

The unit of measurement used for video bitrate is megabits per second (mbps) for video, or kilobits per second (kbps) or for audio. So, for a video with a bitrate of 5mbps, you’d be streaming five megabits every second.

2. Quality

High bitrate is often related to high video quality, while low bitrate indicates lower quality. You’d think that higher resolution also means higher quality, but this isn’t the whole story. That’s because internet speed and bandwidth also come into play.

3. Compression

It’s possible to reduce both bitrate and resolution, but they are done in different ways and for slightly different reasons.

4. Settings

Most video players are capable of adjusting a video’s resolution to fit the viewing window or the device’s screen resolution, whereas it’s up to you to set the bitrate and tell the compression software how much information to send.

A word on encoding methods

Encoding is the process that converts the RAW video files captured by the camera and converts them to digital video files that can be streamed. There are two types of bitrate encoding: constant bitrate (CBR) encoding and variable bitrate (VBR) encoding.

Constant (CBR)

CBR encoding creates consistently-sized files by keeping the bitrate constant. Since the file size and quality are high, the viewer must have a strong internet connection. Encoding with CBR is quicker and more efficient than the variable option, although it doesn’t give much flexibility. It maintains audio quality and is well suited for multimedia streaming.

Variable (VBR)

With this method, the video quality is constant but the bitrate fluctuates — allowing users with weaker internet connections to watch with less lagging and buffering. VBR segments files into smaller sizes that are easier to transmit, with minimal reduction in quality.

Multi-bitrate streaming

Say you’re selling domain names and you’ve created a video to explain What is .ai domain? People will be viewing it in different locations on different devices with different internet speeds, so you need to ensure the bitrate suits as many circumstances as possible.

What are codecs?

‘Codec’ is a portmanteau word combining ‘coder’ and ‘decode’. It’s a device that turns raw recorded video data into a manageable and viewable format by processing and encoding it for storage, so it can be decoded for watching or editing.

Potential problems with streaming

Low bitrate can be caused by network congestion, an unstable connection to your ISP, or streaming over wi-fi. When your connection is unable to keep up, it will drop frames to improve the stability of your stream and minimize latency.


Video bitrate and resolution are two different things, but they are both essential aspects of video streaming. Both have a major effect on video and audio quality, so it’s well worth understanding how they work if you want to ensure professional-looking live streams and upload high-quality content.



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.