With livestreaming, we can watch real-time events like a World Cup match or Formula 1 race from the comfort of our home. One of the most important factors here is latency.
What is latency?
Latency is the delay between an event happening in the real life and the moment it appears onscreen. The lower the latency, the closer to real time your audience can see the event. To improve user experience and minimize latency, developers are constantly looking for solutions to refine existing protocols for content delivery, such as HLS.
What is HLS?
HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) is an HTTP-based protocol designed to deliver live streams over the internet. The protocol divides a stream into a sequence of small downloadable HTTP fragments, or chunks, and sends them over the HTTP protocol together with a playlist that describes the sequence of chunks. User devices gather those chunks into one single playlist and play them one by one as a single video. Because these chunks are so small, they take very little time to download. For the viewer, changes between chunks are seamless and the video looks smooth.
Initially, HLS was developed by Apple Inc., but has since become very popular beyond their products. HLS is now supported by most players, devices, and programs. One reason for its popularity is that HLS works over HTTP protocol, and all modern browsers, players, and CDNs support HTTP only. HLS is unlike other streaming protocols like RTMP or SRT that delivers content from a server to a server, rather than from a server to a browser or player.
What protocols do we use?
Our CDN supports Reduced-Latency HLS, which is a version of the HLS protocol that runs a latency of 6-8 seconds. However, this protocol wouldn’t fully satisfy the needs of time-sensitive events. As an alternative, we used to offer another HTTP-based protocol: Low-Latency DASH. This protocol delivers streams with a latency of 3-4 seconds. But it has one major drawback: it is not supported on iOS devices.
What’s our latest solution?
We are happy to announce that we have updated our equipment according to the latest HLS specifications and have started supporting Low-Latency HLS (LL HLS). This is basically a tool for those wanting to conquer the video streaming industry and deliver the best live event experience with a latency of 3-4 seconds to both Apple and non-Apple devices.
See the difference for yourself!
When is Low-Latency HLS critical?
Low-Latency HLS is the best solution in the following cases:
- Streaming to a big audience, when you need to reach millions of viewers around the world
- Streaming to different devices, including browsers, mobile phones, tablets, and players running on different operating systems.
If either of these describes your needs, try it out today!