Given the growing popularity
and support of HTTP video streaming, it may be tempting to consider
Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) streaming obsolete. But in many
cases, working with RTMP server
is still very meaningful. As soon as Macromedia first pronounced RTMP
with Flash Player 6 in 2002, the brand new Macromedia Flash
Communication Server MX (FCS) required to stream the evolving Flash
Video (FLV) format, stream was live or VOD.
for FCS, licensing costs were high (up to $5,000 per server), and as
a result, CDN costs were high than other proprietary streaming
formats. Some manufacturers in the industry have called RTMP
streaming costs a “Flash tax”. But Flash Player has been a
ubiquitous introduction to desktop browsers for well over a decade,
much larger than other plug-ins. Though, streaming server technology
has traditionally been harder for web developers to implement, and
simpler HTTP delivery has mostly been easier and more cost-effective.
In 2003, Macromedia enabled Flash Player 7 to support HTTP delivery
of FLV files, allowing integrators to use standard web server
technology to deploy online video.
in many ways, RTMP as a VOD transport delivery has not been a
requirement for web video for more than a decade. As a video solution
architect, I think of business requirements as the leader in most
audio video decisions. And still, in 2014, RTMP is the de facto
standard for the following use cases:
live streams from software/hardware encoders:
Almost all streaming devices support RTMP to publish to CDN providers
and streaming servers. Some native mobile applications also use RTMP
libraries to publish live video from their mobile camera.
One of the benefits of RTMP streaming is its enhanced search
capability. With real-time streaming, the player can search anywhere
in the video with less buffering than HTTP delivery. However, to
enjoy this feature, you need a Flash Player on your desktop and as
such, it is not possible in mobile browsers. HTML5 browsers use HTTP
domain requests to facilitate faster searching of VOD files.
Streaming: One of
the preferred uses of RTMP is adaptive streaming playback, where we
provide the video player with more bitrates and content resolutions,
providing the best resolution at the current network speed. Some HTTP
adaptive streaming technologies, such as HLS and MPEG-DASH, allow
similar delivery, but RTMP may be more responsive to switching one
bitrate to another. Unfortunately, there is no standard for HTTP
adaptive streaming between HTML5 video-enabled browsers. As such, the
Flash-based display of adaptive streaming is still a requirement for
While live streams do not need to be adaptive, compressed video
segments apply the same principle to all live streaming playback. For
desktop playback within the browser, virtually every live streaming
event requires a video player that supports Flash-based rendering and
RTMP playback. Apple Safari on iOS natively supports HLS, and
luckily, all modern streaming servers, including the Wowza Streaming
Engine, support RTMP and HLS compression.
The requirement for a Live
Streaming Flash Player will only change if MPEG-DASH appears
everywhere as Flash currently. If Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10
support is required to install live streaming, then RTMP streaming is
still required. Also, if you need a delay close to zero in a live
stream, then HTTP streaming will almost certainly not meet your needs
while RTMP is capable; HTTP mechanisms require that multiple packets
be collected on the server before being sent to the video player.
summary, if your video workflow involves live streaming or any kind
of packaged video installation, RTMP is the key to a successful video
experience. HTTP delivery has already replaced most Flash VOD
installs on video, but HTTP video can’t handle all RTMP video use
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