YouTube Live Streaming Ingestion Protocol Comparison

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YouTube Live Streaming supports the following ingestion protocols for third-party clients:

Ingestion Protocol Encrypted Video Codecs Supported Comment
RTMP No H.264 Suitable for normal, low or ultra-low latency live streaming.
RTMPS Yes H.264 Suitable for normal, low or ultra-low latency live streaming.
HLS Yes H.264, H.265 (HEVC) Better for 4K resolution because of HEVC support. Supports HDR. Not suitable for ultra-low latency.
DASH Yes H.264, VP9 Better for 4K resolution because of VP9 support. Not suitable for ultra-low latency.

RTMP is a widely-used protocol for video streaming that YouTube Live has accepted since the service began.

RTMPS is a secure extension to RTMP. RTMPS benefits both content creators and viewers by preventing man-in-the-middle attacks on the ingestion side of livestreams. This ensures that all of a creator's live streaming data — including video, audio, and control signals — is securely transmitted to YouTube's servers, protecting it from tampering or interception in transit.

The HLS and DASH ingestion protocols are also encrypted, like RTMPS. They also support codecs that RTMP and RTMPS do not. Next-generation video codecs such as VP9 and HEVC can offer much better compression relative to H.264, allowing users to either stream with higher quality for a given bitrate or stream with the same quality while using a lower bitrate, which could decrease buffering. This makes HLS or DASH ingestion a good choice for premium content that requires higher quality and higher resolution, albeit at a relatively higher latency. Note that HLS and DASH ingestion typically incur greater latency than RTMP because HLS and DASH are segment-based.