hls streaming

HLS Streaming What Is it & How Does HLS Video Streaming Work?

To start with, let’s go by the definition – HLS is an HTTP-based protocol for streaming video and audio over the internet. It is intended to function with a wide variety of devices, including desktop PCs, mobile devices, and smart televisions. In recent years, HLS has become a popular choice for streaming video because it is efficient and can adapt to changing network circumstances to give end-users a seamless video playing experience.

When it comes to HLS video streaming, the video is divided into smaller segments, which are then transmitted to the viewer via the HTTP protocol. Each segment is encrypted and is accompanied by a playlist file that specifies the sections and provides the relevant information on how to play them back. Indeed, the viewer’s device downloads the playlist and then begins downloading and playing the video segments in real time. 

“In 2020, live streamers accounted for more than one-third of all internet users, with barely one in 10 persons in the US/UK broadcasting live content of their own. About 82% of internet use is predicted to be devoted to streaming video by 2023.”

This enables HLS to adjust to changing network conditions and offers the viewer a consistent viewing experience. With that being said, let’s get started on the blog. Here, we will provide a brief introduction to HLS and explain how it works to deliver streaming video to viewers. All in all, if you are a content creator, broadcaster, content streamer or simply want to better grasp what a video platform can achieve for your business or organization, you need to understand more about HLS streaming in detail.

Are You Planning To Start Your HLS Player for Video Streaming?

What is HLS Streaming?

hls streaming player

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is a streaming protocol that allows video and audio information to be delivered over the internet.

It is built on the HTTP protocol, the core of the World Wide Web, and is intended to function with a wide range of devices including desktop computers, mobile devices, and smart TVs. Furthermore, most modern media players and devices support HLS, making it a simple solution for both video creators and end-users.

Now that you got the answer for your question – What is HLS streaming? Let’s get to know some of its well-known features of HLS video streaming: Closed captions, Audio and video alternates, Metadata with a time stamp, Insertion of advertisements, Protection of content, fast forward and rewind, etc. Indeed, HLS is widely supported by most streaming and distribution services.

In the year 2017, Adobe announced that it will no longer support RTMP beyond the end of 2020. After this date, the subject of HLS streaming solutions became more serious. Because HLS is one of the first protocols that immediately comes to mind as an RTMP replacement.

HLS enables you to share content while maintaining high-quality viewing experiences across devices, playback platforms, and network conditions. It is the appropriate protocol for broadcasting media to huge audiences who are spread across multiple locations.

Keep in mind that, despite the fact that HLS was created by Apple, it is today the most popular standard for delivering video content across multiple platforms, devices, and browsers. 

How does HLS streaming work?

hls video streaming works

Now that we’ve addressed the question, “What is HLS streaming?” We can move on to learn how HLS streaming works in real time. To begin, the HLS protocol uses the.ts file extension to break video data into 10-second segments.

The streams are then saved on an HTTP server, and HTTP is used to distribute these brief samples to the network devices of the viewers.

To aid this process, HLS employs a system of manifest files and media segments. The manifest file, also known as the playlist, is a list of the media segments that make up the video content.

It also contains metadata about the segments, such as the length of the segments and the encryption keys required to decrypt them. The media segments are the actual video and audio data that the viewer receives via the HTTP protocol.

As the viewer watches the video, their device actively downloads new media segments and updates the playlist to reflect the current state of the stream. This enables HLS to adapt to changing network conditions and provide a seamless viewing experience for the end-user.

Advantages of HLS Video Streaming:

hls player advantage

1. Highly Compatible With Multiple Devices:

HLS video player is supported on a wide range of devices, including desktop and mobile web browsers, as well as native apps on iOS, Android, and other platforms.

This makes it easy to deliver video to a large audience without worrying much about compatibility challenges. For example, if you are streaming a live event, you can be pretty much confident that the majority of your viewers will be able to watch the event, regardless of the device they own or use.

All in all, the HLS video player’s support for a wide range of devices makes it an enticing alternative for content providers looking to reach a large audience.

2. Good User Experience:

HLS supports adaptive bitrate streaming, which implies that the video quality can be automatically adjusted based on the network connection of the end-user. This helps to maintain a seamless and predictable viewing experience, even when network connectivity varies in the region. 

Furthermore, HLS has relatively low latency, which means that there is a minimal delay between the source video and when it is received by the end-user. This can be useful for live events, where real-time interaction is far more important.

We can say that – By automatically adjusting the video quality, the HLS video player prevents buffering and other disruptions that might ruin the entire viewing experience.

3. Effective Bandwidth Utilization: 

HLS is designed to be efficient in terms of bandwidth usage, which is vital for content creators who want to offer video without incurring high data costs.

Wondering how HLS is able to do this? It does this by using adaptive bitrate streaming, which adjusts the video quality based on the viewer’s network connection.

This implies that in regions with a poor internet connection, video quality can be reduced while still providing a seamless watching experience. This can help content creators save money by reducing data usage. It’s a win-win for both sides – viewers get to watch a buffer-free video, and content creators save a lot of money.

4. Delivery and Scaling:

With HLS video streaming, It becomes significantly easier to transmit live video from one to millions of people. This is due to the fact that the majority of web browsers and operating systems support HLS video players.

As HLS may push content via web servers in a CDN, the digital load is dispersed across HTTP server networks. This makes it simple to cache audio-video chunks for delivery to viewers in all locations. One can say that they can receive video content as long as they are close to a web server.

5. Easy To Implement:

HLS is relatively easy to implement, which makes it a popular choice for content creators looking to set up an online video streaming solution. Indeed, HLS works seamlessly with a variety of servers, including ordinary web servers, and integrates readily with other video infrastructures as well, such as content delivery networks (CDNs).

Furthermore, HLS is interoperable with a wide variety of software and hardware platforms, making it simple to distribute video content to a large audience who keeps an interest in watching online content. 

6. High Quality Video:

We all know that HLS is capable of producing high quality video, but do you know that it can handle resolutions up to 4K? Yes! It can. That’s the reason, video broadcasters say that HLS is the appropriate solution for delivering high definition video content to the end-users.

In addition to that, HLS supports a wide range of video codecs, which means that it can be used to deliver a variety of video formats. One can say that this is critical for content creators who want to deliver videos in the format that best suits their audience.

7. Good Error Resilience:

HLS is designed to be resilient to errors and interruptions, which is vital for ensuring a seamless viewing experience. Wait, how is HLS resistant to mistakes? The answer is that it does this by using HTTP for data transmission, which allows it to recover from errors and interruptions without forcing the viewer to actively reload the page.

In addition to the above statement, HLS uses a segmented approach to streaming, which means that it can continue to deliver video even if some segments face minor faults or interruptions.

8. DRM support:

HLS allows for secure streaming using the encryption method, which can help to protect against unauthorized access to the video content. This is especially handy for premium content that is exclusively available to paying subscribers.

In addition to this, HLS supports the usage of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems, which can be used to further restrict access to the content and protect against piracy.

Above all, this can be crucial for content owners who want to safeguard their intellectual property and ensure that they are compensated for the use of their content.

Summary Of The Aforementioned HLS Video Streaming Benefits

Overall, HLS is a robust and flexible protocol that is well-suited for video streaming in a variety of contexts. Its wide device compatibility, ability to give a pleasant user experience with variable bitrate streaming, and low latency. Above all, DRM support makes it an appealing alternative for content owners and publishers.

Furthermore, its scalability and use of HTTP for transport make it easy to deliver video to a large number of viewers. These characteristics make HLS a popular choice for both live events, as well as on-demand video content, and it predicted that it is likely to continue to be a major player in the online video streaming industry in the coming years.

When to Use HLS For Video Streaming:

best hls video streaming player

HLS is an excellent choice for video streaming in a variety of scenarios. One common use case of HLS could be live events, such as sporting events or concerts.

HLS is well-suited for these types of events due to its minimal latency and ability to scale to a large number of viewers. Yes, there may be some delay during live streams; nevertheless, it can be said as the best HTML5 video player. In addition to that, HLS is often used for on-demand video, such as movies or TV shows.

It is capable of delivering high quality video, with support for resolutions up to 4K, and can be easily integrated with other video infrastructure such as content delivery networks (CDNs).

Another instance where HLS is often used is when compatibility with a wide range of network devices becomes pretty much important. HLS is supported by a wide range of devices, including desktop and mobile web browsers, as well as native apps on various platforms.

This makes it far easier to deliver video to a large audience without worrying about compatibility difficulties. Aside from that, HLS supports adaptive bitrate streaming, which ensures a seamless watching experience even when network connectivity fluctuates.

Overall, one can say that HLS is a versatile and widely accepted protocol that is well-suited for a variety of online video streaming and over-the-top (OTT) applications. It is particularly useful for live events and on-demand video, and is a good choice when compatibility with a wide range of devices is your highest priority.


In conclusion, HLS is a well-known protocol for streaming video over the internet. It has a number of characteristics that make it a suitable choice for a wide range of applications. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that HLS was able to deliver video to a large audience in the past and is capable of doing so in the future as well. It also allows for adaptive bitrate streaming, which helps to ensure a pleasant viewing experience, with latency as low as possible. 

As mentioned in the above sections, HLS is scalable and efficient in terms of bandwidth utilization and can be easily integrated with other video infrastructures such as content delivery networks (CDNs). HLS also supports encryption and DRM systems for the secure streaming of premium content.

Overall, HLS is a dependable and widely-supported protocol that is well-suited for a variety of video streaming applications. Whether you are streaming live events, on-demand video, or anything in between, HLS is a solid option that can help you deliver a high-quality viewing experience to your audience. 

If you’re convinced and want to try out a buffer-free HLS player for streaming HD quality video, get in touch with one of our product experts for a one-on-one demo.


Kesav works with CONTUS VPlayed as a video-on-demand platform expert. I love to blog, analyze, and discuss things on the newest technology. I'm especially curious to learn more about the technologies used by movie streaming platforms.


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