RTMP vs. RTSP: Which Streaming Protocol to Choose for Your Brand
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RTMP vs. RTSP: Everything Publishers Should Know


Online video is dominating the publishing and advertising world! More and more brands have started to use video marketing to promote their products and services and connect with their target audience. But pre-recorded content isn’t the only star on the internet — live videos are on the rise as well!

In fact, one research shows that the digital live streaming industry grew by 99% between April 2019 and April 2020. Now, that’s a massive increase! Of course, such growth couldn’t have been missed by marketers and publishers. Over 35% of brands use live video as part of their social media strategy.

What’s more, consumers have contributed enormously to the fact that more companies have gone live online. Namely, 80% of customers would rather watch a live stream than read a blog post. And businesses are taking a cue!

However, broadcasting videos on websites or social media wouldn’t be possible without advanced technology. After all, it’s crucial that the process of live streaming goes smoothly and professionally. In case viewers face any difficulty watching your content, they are more likely to abandon it. Losing viewers due to these issues is what you should not allow.

In this article, we’ll do a RTMP vs. RTSP comparison to help you find out more about these two streaming protocols.

Let’s start with RTMP!

What Is RTMP?

RTMP is short for Real-Time Messaging Protocol. Initially, this was a proprietary protocol developed by Macromedia. Adobe acquired RTMP to deliver audio and video content over the internet between a streaming server and Adobe Flash Platform technologies, including Adobe Flash Player.

Furthermore, RTMP is a low-latency protocol. It breaks data into chunks to deliver video and audio signals consistently throughout. Publishers and content creators rely on it for both pre-recorded or live-streamed data, especially for the latter.

Nowadays, RTMP is an open specification, making it available to a larger audience.

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When live streaming was just starting off, RTMP was the go-to protocol in the industry. Publishers were sure it would bring smooth streaming experiences to their viewers. Adobe Flash Player used to power 98% of internet-connected desktops around the world. However, Adobe Flash shut down recently, changing the purpose of RTMP. Now, this streaming protocol’s primary role is to deliver digital content from an encoder to an online video host.

As we’re examining RTMP vs. RTSP, it’s wise to mention the pros and cons of the former streaming protocol!

Pros of RTMP

  • Low latency
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Requires no buffering

Cons of RTMP

  • Bandwidth issues
  • Not supported by HTML5
  • Compatibility issues with certain browsers and devices
  • Somewhat low security

Now that we know the advantages and disadvantages of RTMP, let’s move on with our RTMP vs. RTSP comparison.

What Is RTSP?

RTSP stands for Real-Time Streaming Protocol. Although a lesser-known protocol, it is used in entertainment and communications systems to control the streaming servers via play and pause capabilities. Companies leverage RTSP to establish and control media sessions between end points.

What’s more, RTSP facilitates real-time control by communicating with the server. It often turns to Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and Real-Time Control Protocol (RTCP) to deliver streaming data.

Just like RTMP, RTSP is also a low-latency protocol. This means it’s particularly suitable for Internet Protocol (IP) camera streaming. Businesses especially use it for surveillance, including for streams coming from CCTV or IP cameras. The cameras send the live feed to an RTSP server which then transcodes it and forwards it to computers in the network.

Now that we know the basics in this RTMP vs. RTSP comparison, let’s find out the pros and cons of the latter!

Pros of RTSP

  • Low latency
  • Segmented streaming

Cons of RTMP

  • HTTP incompatible
  • Depends on other protocols

RTMP vs. RTSP: Which One Should You Choose

When it comes to this part of our article on RTMP vs. RTSP, there is no right or wrong answer. The choice between these two protocols depends on you and your business needs. So, don’t focus too much on finding out which streaming protocol is the best — examine your plans and decide which technology you would benefit the most from.

To help you along the way, we’ve singled out the three examples in which you should use either RTMP or RTSP. Let’s go over them below.

IP Cameras: Choose RTSP

Most IP cameras support the RTSP protocol, so your choice is pretty easy here. As you know, there are various uses for IP cameras. Some rely on them for surveillance, others for traffic monitoring. There are those who utilize them as home monitoring systems. Regardless of how you use them, RTSP is a more effective streaming protocol than RTMP for IP cameras.

IoT Devices: Go With RTSP

IoT devices — RTMP vs. RTSP? We suggest you select RTSP! Drones, robots, and similar devices are able to record and send live videos. This is especially suitable when you want to share breathtaking footage of your environment with your followers.

RTSP is often built into the drone or IoT software, making it possible to access the video feed. One of its benefits, low latency, ensures there is no delay in the video which is crucial with drones. Therefore, it’s obvious which streaming protocol wins here.

Youtube, Twitch, Facebook: Select RTMP

Although 2020 marked the end of Adobe Flash Player, the RTMP protocol will remain to be useful. In fact, we are certain it will outlive the player. RTMP was widespread in the past when Flash used to dominate the internet. Even today some third-party streaming apps like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook leverage RTMP as an ingest protocol.

So, if you’re brand is present on these platforms, you’ll know what to select in your RTMP vs. RTSP dilemma!

Closing Thoughts

Both RTMP and RTSP streaming protocols have their own benefits. They serve unique purposes and help ensure broadcasting goes off without a hitch. On one hand, RTMP is a widely compatible option for publishers and content creators looking for an adaptable and flexible streaming protocol.

On the other hand, RTSP is suitable for localized streams. At the end of the day, the choice between these two depends on you. Examine your business needs and make an informed choice!