What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming?
Adaptive bitrate streaming—or ABR—is a method used to optimize streaming quality for each specific consumer device for a top-grade, uninterrupted video streaming experience.
The term “bitrate” is indicative of how rapidly data travels across a network; a stable, high internet speed is synonymous with a high-bitrate connection. Among the factors affecting video streaming bitrate are video resolution, codec, video content complexity, and frame rate.
How does ABR work?
ABR works synergistically with HTTP streaming protocols like (HLS) and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) to dynamically adjust video quality based on bandwidth availability and different devices' processing capacities.
It is NOT the same as progressive streaming, which relies on an HTTP web server to stream content.
ABR allows content broadcasters to efficiently create smaller (2 to 10 secs long), usable videos for every screen size (or device) — thereby ensuring a smooth viewing experience for customers regardless of their location, network conditions, or device.
Benefits of ABR
- ABR forgoes the limitation of poor network conditions and solves the two primary challenges of progressive streaming: prolonged buffering and low-quality streams.
- By continuously adjusting to varying network conditions, ABR eliminates frustrating loading delays and minimizes disruptions for viewers, thereby improving the user experience.
- ABR supports streaming protocols like HLS, DASH, Microsoft Smooth Streaming (MSS) and HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS).
Content Delivery Networks (CDN), content distributors, OTT platforms, and more leverage ABR technology to provide a high-end streaming experience using fewer resources and manpower.
Different content platforms leverage different ABR streaming profiles which comprise streaming protocols, information on bitrates, frame rates, video resolution, codecs, and more. For instance, OTT platforms use HLS or MPEG-DASH.