HLS streaming in popular video scripts

March 7, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Many webmasters have asked about “m3u8″ support in their video CMS.
Of course, it’s possible, same like mpeg/dash type of streaming.

Unfortunately, most of them lack any experience about such advanced type of streaming and their knowledge is limited to “words” only, like “m3u8″ or “dash”. Some do not even realize that m3u8 is only an extension of the protocol file for the HLS type of streaming. Many have no idea about the media file type, files storing structure, etc.

This leads to many misunderstandings and disappointment. The HLS / DASH stream is not something that you can download directly as a video file to your computer.
HLS/DASH streams have a specific file storage structure that might be not accepted to transfer to some CDN provider.

HLS/DASH streaming from remote server requires CORS enabled on the server it is streamed from.
You can’t extract or regenerate video thumbs from ready HLS/DASH stream directly using ffmpeg commands, you can’t manipulate HLS/DASH video content using ffmpeg commands.

Of course, there are solutions for many things that are not possible to do on ready HLS/DASH stream, but this requires more coding, more understanding what HLS/DASH stream is.

Main advantage of HLS streaming is that it can adopt video resolution to browser/device/player size and to client’s internet speed. This is possible when video is encoded in multiple resolutions and main playlist points to single resolution playlists.

However we found that some webmasters force single only resolution for HLS.
This is misunderstanding. This doesn’t bring any advantage over standard MP4 streaming, only requires more disk space to store video chunk or fragmented files + m4u8 playlist.

Definitely HLS and DASH is great new technology, with great future, already used by many video services. But it’s not for all. If your knowledge and experience about HLS/DASH is not so big, better do not bother with it and stay with standard MP4/WEBM streaming, which for most use is far enough.
Today HLS/DASH type of streaming is attractive for really big video services, when bandwidth, optimal delivery and security really matters. It’s also a solution for those services that stream live events.
But for smaller websites, for webmasters with smaller experience such advanced type of streaming can be rather a source of trouble than any advantage.

But if you are aware of HLS/DASH streaming, of its limitations and advantages, this is definitely the way you should go.