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HLS - HTTP Live Streaming

Published Date: 24 November 2022


What is HLS?

HLS—or HTTP Live Streaming—is a standard adaptive bitrate-based streaming protocol used for live and on-demand video delivery over the internet. Apple Inc. launched it in 2009 to speed up the delivery of media files and boost the viewing experience across a wide range of media players, devices, web browsers, and streaming platforms.

How does HLS work?

HLS ditches the traditional continuous delivery of streams by compressing video and audio content into a series of more manageable and streamable chunks and transmits them over HTTP to viewers' screens. Ir dynamically adapts to each end user's circumstances — including smaller screens, poor resolutions, and network conditions — thereby ensuring they receive higher-quality streams on their devices.

HLS vs. MPEG-DASH

Other commonly used streaming protocols like MPEG-DASH resemble HLS in distributing streams but lack widespread compatibility across different devices and servers.

Benefits of HLS

  • High quality: HLS aims at delivering the highest-quality stream possible to all client devices.
  • User experience: HLS ensures end-user devices can seamlessly adapt to fluctuating network conditions and enjoy a smooth streaming experience despite their devices' bandwidth capacities.
  • Device support and compatibility: HLS is currently compatible with all major web browsers such as Windows, iOS, and Android and supports playback on all platforms, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, desktops, laptops, set-top boxes, and more.
  • Low cost: HLS is more economical when compared to other streaming formats, given its widespread support.


Related Terms

Video Quality

In simple terms, video quality is the characteristic of a video that determines how clear, crisp, and detailed the video transmitted to the viewer is.

Video Watermark

A video watermark is a digital copyright tool used to identify the video's copyright owner or prevent illegal distribution.

1:1

1:1 is a commonly used aspect ratio in videography. It produces videos that are a perfect square; the width and height of the video image are the same.

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