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What is a streaming protocol?

A streaming protocol is a standardized method for delivering multimedia (audio and video) over the internet. These protocols define how data travels from source to destination, including aspects such as data compression, delivery, decompression, and display. Streaming protocols are designed to handle the unique demands of transmitting large amounts of multimedia data in real time.

Here are a few common streaming protocols:

1. HLS (HTTP Live Streaming): Developed by Apple, this protocol breaks down the stream into small HTTP-based file downloads, each downloading one short chunk of an overall potentially unbounded transport stream.

2. MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP): An adaptive bitrate streaming protocol that enables high quality streaming of media content over the internet delivered from conventional HTTP web servers.

3. RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol): Developed by Macromedia (now Adobe), RTMP is primarily used for live streaming, as it has low latency but requires a continuous connection between the client and the server.

4. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications): An open-source project that provides browsers and mobile applications with real-time communication via simple APIs.

5. RTSP (Real-Time Streaming Protocol): A network control protocol designed for use in entertainment and communications systems to control streaming media servers. It's often used in conjunction with RTP and RTCP for media stream delivery.

6. Smooth Streaming: A hybrid media delivery method developed by Microsoft, used for streaming media content over HTTP.

These protocols play a critical role in ensuring the content is delivered smoothly and can adapt to different network conditions and device capabilities. For instance, they can dynamically adjust the quality of a video stream in real time, according to the viewer's network and playback conditions (known as Adaptive Bitrate Streaming or ABR).

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