RTMP vs SRT: Choosing the Right Live Streaming Protocol
When broadcasting a live stream it’s easy to assume simply sending the default signal to the live streaming platform is all you need to do. However, the quality and efficiency of a live stream largely depend on the underlying protocol used for transmission.
Among the most popular are RTMP/S, and SRT. Each of these protocols has its strengths and limitations, making them suitable for different streaming scenarios.
We’ve decided to focus on these protocols as they are all supported by StreamShark!
RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol)
RTMP, initially developed by Macromedia and currently under Adobe’s ownership, has served as a longstanding standard within the live streaming industry. This protocol relies on TCP and is designed to sustain persistent connections.
- Wide Compatibility. Most streaming software and platforms support RTMP.
- Can be end-to-end secured with RTMPS where supported
- Lack of Encryption. Standard RTMP does not offer encryption, which can be a concern for secure broadcasts.
- Requires a stable internet connection.
RTMPS (RTMP Secure)
RTMPS is essentially RTMP over a TLS/SSL connection. It offers the same benefits as RTMP but with added security.
- Enhanced Security. The addition of SSL encryption makes RTMPS a more secure option for sensitive content.
- Additional Resource Requirements. The encryption process requires more computational resources.
- Not all encoders or streaming platforms support RTMPS.
SRT (Secure Reliable Transport)
Through the fusion of UDP’s exceptional speed and TCP’s error-correction features, SRT provides broadcasters with dependable streams that remain robust under varying network conditions. SRT is open source, initially developed by Haivision but with active contributors across the globe from the SRT Alliance (of which StreamShark is a member).
- High Performance Over Poor Networks. SRT is resilient to packet loss,jitter, and latency, making it ideal for streaming over unstable or low-quality networks.
- Encryption. It supports AES encryption for secure transmission.
- Less Universal Support. While gaining popularity, SRT is not as universally supported as RTMP.
Choosing the Right Protocol
When deciding on the right protocol, consider the following factors:
- Network Quality: If you’re streaming over a poor or unstable network, SRT might be your best bet.
- Content Security: For sensitive content, protocols that support encryption (RTMPS, SRT) are ideal.
- Compatibility: Ensure the protocol you choose is supported by your streaming platform and audience’s playback devices. RTMP is generally accepted by most streaming platforms.
Choosing the right live streaming protocol depends on your specific needs and circumstances. RTMP is great for its almost universal support and RTMPS is great for the additional security. Amazingly, the RTMP protocol is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the development of an Enhanced RTMP protocol which has added support for the HEVC and AV1 video protocols, and is now supported as an ingest protocol by YouTube.
However, ultimately we prefer SRT for its wide codec support, increased reliability and native encryption support. If you have an encoder and streaming platform that supports it, then we highly recommend using it.
If you want to test out SRT, then you can sign up to StreamShark for a free trial now!