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 Utilizing WebRTC as an RTMP Various
June 19, 2022

Utilizing WebRTC as an RTMP Various

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Final 12 months, Adobe Flash Participant lastly died. Whereas the deadline was years within the making and really a lot anticipated, it had impacts on a key expertise in lots of streaming workflows: the Actual-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP).

RTMP was initially designed for the transmission of audio, video, and different knowledge to Adobe Flash Participant. And in its heyday, RTMP was the first expertise for transporting video over the web. It might be used from finish to finish and ensured fast stay supply. In the present day, nonetheless, fewer units and browsers help it than ever earlier than.

Whereas RTMP will stay a dependable mechanism for transporting video between encoders and servers, the identical can’t be mentioned for RTMP-based playback. And in Adobe’s personal phrases, broadcasters are inspired “emigrate any current Flash content material to… new open codecs.”

In a difficulty of Streaming Media journal early final 12 months, Robert Reinhard cautioned, “Should you’re utilizing Flash for low-latency real-time streaming, you’ve acquired a couple of 12 months or much less to attempt shifting over to a WebRTC resolution. And what does that imply precisely? Any code you’re utilizing in your Flash-based media server (Adobe Media Methods, Wowza Streaming Engine, and so forth) must migrate to WebRTC as a substitute of Actual-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)”

And but, many content material distributors are nonetheless struggling to switch RTMP with a real-time format for video playback. Why? Effectively, each HLS and MPEG-DASH help high-quality streaming to quite a lot of units, however 30+ second latency comes commonplace with these HTTP-based applied sciences. Low-latency extensions of those protocols exist (Low-Latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH), however neither obtain the sub-second supply velocity that many are after. Plus, help for Low-Latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH in gamers, content material supply networks (CDNs), and units continues to be within the early phases.



For real-time streaming, Internet Actual-Time Communication (WebRTC) is your solely choice, which is why it’s attracted a number of consideration in recent times. The HTML5-based expertise affords the quickest methodology for transporting stay video throughout the web. What’s extra, like RTMP in its prime, it may be used finish to finish.

However WebRTC isn’t with out its limitations. The protocol was designed for browser-based encoding and small-scale streaming, each of which don’t jive properly with some broadcasting eventualities.

Positive, it’s a preferred buzzword amongst builders — however is WebRTC the perfect resolution for changing RTMP? As I’ll clarify, all of it is determined by the applied sciences you’re utilizing to help deployment and what you’re attempting to realize.


RTMP vs. WebRTC: A Comparability

WebRTC delivers a number of benefits over RTMP. For one, it’s a brand new and open-source expertise that’s additionally standardized by the IETF and W3C. All main browsers help WebRTC with out requiring a plug-in, eliminating the interoperability challenges that include proprietary streaming applied sciences. Plus, it advantages from a neighborhood of software program builders contributing to its ongoing growth.

Secondly, at sub-500-millisecond supply velocity, WebRTC is the bottom latency protocol on the market. This makes it a go-to resolution for creating interactive video experiences starting from real-time auctions to stay commerce, and in addition a gorgeous choice for stay sports activities broadcasters searching for an edge on their rivals.

Giant-scale broadcasting to quite a few viewers, nonetheless, has all the time been a difficulty with WebRTC. The video chat framework merely wasn’t designed to scale. Fortunately, we’ve developed an answer to beat this limitation — which I discuss intimately beneath.

On the video contribution facet, WebRTC permits easy broadcasting utilizing solely an internet browser — however for broadcasters hoping to regulate their encoding settings with a {hardware} or software program resolution, browser-based encoding isn’t very best. Likewise, RTMP has a leg up on WebRTC in terms of utilizing timed metadata for performance like captions and advert markers.


WebRTC Workflows

So, the place precisely can RTMP be swapped out for WebRTC in terms of stay video streaming? As an end-to-end expertise, it’s attainable to make use of WebRTC for ingest, egress, or each. Right here’s a take a look at the advantages on both finish of the workflow, and the way it may be used from encoding by supply — with out sacrificing scale.


Changing RTMP With WebRTC for Ingest

RTMP stays the usual for first-mile video contribution. And there are a number of causes for this. For one, it’s broadly supported by stay encoding software program and {hardware}. It’s additionally accepted by many social media platforms.

Encoding distributors have begun including help for open-source protocols like SRT, however WebRTC has beforehand been restricted to browser-based publishing. For anybody seeking to broadcast immediately from their browser utilizing solely their webcam and microphone, this labored nice. However for content material distributors desirous to stream produced stay content material with an expert encoder, WebRTC ingest wasn’t an choice.

And so, the crew at Milicast designed the WebRTC HTTP Ingest Protocol (WHIP) to beat this impediment. WHIP gives encoding software program and {hardware} with a normal signaling protocol when speaking to media servers, thus enabling WebRTC ingest throughout distributors. WHIP permits ingesting WebRTC immediately, retaining its latency benefits over RTMP, whereas eradicating any connectivity obstacles between encoders and media servers.

When used for ingest, WebRTC ensures low latency, necessary encryption, and affords help for superior codecs like Opus and VP9. It’s additionally turning into a viable format for {hardware} and software program encoding due to WHIP. For broadcast workflows that require fine-tune management over encoding settings (together with bitrate, codecs, and codec parameters), it will permit WebRTC to compete immediately with RTMP.


Changing RTMP With WebRTC for Egress

RTMP is now not supported by browsers, rendering it lifeless on the playback facet. Most broadcasters in the present day use HLS for last-mile supply, however 30+ seconds of latency comes commonplace when utilizing it.


Which streaming codecs are you at the moment utilizing for supply?


In relation to low-latency options, WebRTC is the speediest of the bunch. For that motive, in case you want true interactivity — and we’re speaking sub-one-second video supply for eventualities like emergency response and distant monitoring — then WebRTC is your greatest wager. Low-Latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH are additionally good choices, however they’ll’t obtain the identical real-time supply as WebRTC.

That mentioned, WebRTC wasn’t designed for broadcasting at scale. We used to encourage content material distributors to as a substitute leverage tuned HLS or Low-Latency HLS when broadcasting interactive content material to giant audiences, however we’ve advanced our providing to deal with this impediment.

Particularly, we developed a brand new function that deploys WebRTC throughout a {custom} CDN to supply near-limitless scale. The answer, Actual-Time Streaming at Scale for Wowza Streaming Cloud, ensures sub-second supply to viral audiences throughout the globe.



As illustrated within the diagram, when delivered on this method, WebRTC playback can be utilized in a variety of workflows, together with WebRTC end-to-end or RTMP to WebRTC.


Issues When Implementing WebRTC

Should you’re contemplating utilizing WebRTC as an RTMP substitute, take the next questions under consideration:


1. Do you require two-way video or real-time interactivity?

Interactive stay streaming options and WebRTC go collectively like peanut butter and jelly. So long as you’re utilizing WebRTC for each publishing and playback, sub-500ms streaming is achievable. What’s extra, use circumstances comfy with sub-second streaming can leverage a RTMP to WebRTC workflow. Hybrid fashions additionally exist, the place interactive members view the WebRTC stream and passive viewers are served a higher-latency stream delivered by way of HLS.


2. Do you count on to go viral?

All content material distributors hope their streaming purposes will grow to be an enormous success, with 1000’s and even thousands and thousands of viewers watching. Nonetheless, that many customers can simply overwhelm your infrastructure. Conventional WebRTC deployments are restricted of their capability to scale with out leveraging a custom-built CDN like what our Actual-Time Streaming at Scale function affords. So make certain that you may have the suitable infrastructure in place in case your purpose is to achieve giant audiences.



As a result of WebRTC was designed for video chat purposes, two main obstacles have stood in the way in which of its adoption in stay broadcasting workflows:

  1. Limitations of browser-based encoding, and the dearth of WebRTC functionality in encoding software program and {hardware}.
  2. Challenges with scalability, which made WebRTC troublesome to make use of when broadcasting to 1000’s of viewers or extra.

Fortunately, the trade has give you workarounds for each points, making WebRTC a strong various to RTMP on each the ingest and playback facet.

In our 2021 Video Streaming Latency Report, we discovered that WebRTC is now the second hottest format for ingest and the third hottest for supply. I count on that adoption will proceed to develop given the work that distributors have put into enhancing WebRTC usability for stay video broadcasting.

To study extra about WebRTC streaming with Wowza, don’t hesitate to contact us in the present day.


Make the Swap to WebRTC

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Extra Sources:

  • What Is WebRTC
  • Low-Latency Know-how Choices Throughout Wowza’s Product Portfolio
  • WebRTC With Wowza Streaming Engine
  • WebRTC With Wowza Streaming Cloud

About Barry Owen

Barry Owen is Wowza’s resident video streaming skilled and vice chairman of options engineering. On this function, he leads a crew devoted to serving to prospects succeed. From architecting {custom} purposes to fixing advanced issues, Barry leverages greater than 25 years… View extra

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