HTTP Live Streaming

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HTTP Live Streaming playlist
Filename extension .m3u8
Internet media type application/[1]
Developed by Apple Inc.
Initial release April 2014
Type of format Playlist
Extended from extended M3U
Standard draft 13

HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS) is an HTTP-based media streaming communications protocol implemented by Apple Inc. as part of their QuickTime, Safari, OS X, and iOS software. It works by breaking the overall stream into a sequence of small HTTP-based file downloads, each download loading one short chunk of an overall potentially unbounded transport stream. As the stream is played, the client may select from a number of different alternate streams containing the same material encoded at a variety of data rates, allowing the streaming session to adapt to the available data rate. At the start of the streaming session, it downloads an extended M3U playlist containing the metadata for the various sub-streams which are available.[2]

Since its requests use only standard HTTP transactions, HTTP Live Streaming is capable of traversing any firewall or proxy server that lets through standard HTTP traffic, unlike UDP-based protocols such as RTP. This also allows content to be delivered over widely available CDNs.

HLS also specifies a standard encryption mechanism[3] using AES and a method of secure key distribution using HTTPS with either a device specific realm login or HTTP cookie which together provide a simple DRM system. Later versions of the protocol also provide for trick mode fast-forward and rewind and integration of subtitles. upLynk has also added the AES scrambling and base-64 encoding of the DRM content key with a 128-bit device specific key for registered commercial SWF applications together with a sequential initialization Vector for each chunk to their implementation of the standard.[4]

Apple has documented HTTP Live Streaming as an Internet Draft (Individual Submission), the first stage in the process of submitting it to the IETF as an Informational Request for Comments. However, while Apple has submitted occasional minor updates to the draft, no additional steps appear to have been taken towards IETF standardization.[5]

Server implementations[edit]


  • Adobe Systems demonstrated an update to its Adobe Flash Media Server product supporting HTTP Live Streaming at the NAB Show in April 2011
  • Apple Inc. used this on September 1, 2010 to stream their iPod Keynote event live over the internet, and on October 20, 2010 to stream their 'Back to the Mac' Keynote event live over the internet.
  • Google added HTTP Live Streaming support in Android Honeycomb and later.[8]
  • Helix Universal Server from RealNetworks supports iPhone OS 3.0 and later for live and on-demand HTTP Live or On-Demand streaming of H.264 and AAC content to iPhone, iPad and iPod initial release April 2010, latest release November 2012
  • flashls is an open-source Adobe Flash/Adobe AIR plugin that provides HTTP Live Streaming support for Chromeless Flash/Air Player, Flowplayer, Video.js, mediaelement.js and Open Source Media Framework 2.0 [9]
  • HP added HTTP Live Streaming support in webOS 3.0.5.[10]
  • Microsoft added support for HTTP Live Streaming in IIS Media Services 4.0.[11]
  • Wowza Media Systems released Wowza Media Server 2.0 with full support for HTTP Live Streaming on December 9, 2009[12]
  • Yospace added HTTP Live Streaming support in Yospace HLS Player and SDK for flash version 1.0[13]
  • Sling Media added HTTP Live Streaming support to its Slingboxes and its SlingPlayer apps[14]

Supported players and servers[edit]


Product Live Streaming DRM As of Version Vendor
THEOplayer(HLS in HTML5) Yes Partial OpenTelly
Amino x4x STB Yes Yes 2.5.2 Aminet
Android Yes Yes Browser: 3.0-4.0.x
Media Player: 3.0+
3ivx HLS Player SDK for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 [15] & Xbox One [16] Yes Yes 2.0 3ivx
iOS Yes Yes 3.0+ Apple
QuickTime Player Yes Yes 10+ Apple
ffplay/avplay Yes Partial FFmpeg/Libav
WebOS (HP Touchpad) Yes Yes 3.0.5 HP
DicePlayer (Android 2.2+) Yes Yes Diceplayer 1.0+ INISOFT
MythTV Yes Yes 0.26 MythTV
nangu.TV on Motorola STB Yes Yes 2.0 nangu.TV
HLS Streaming Player and SDK for Flash [13] Yes Yes 2.1 Yospace
HLS Streaming Player and SDK for Flash [17] Yes Yes 2.0
Roku Digital Video Player Yes Yes Roku OS / SDK 2.6 Roku
GPAC (cross-platform media player) Yes No 0.5.0 Telecom ParisTech inc.
VODOBOX HLS Player (free online player for iOS, Android, Flash) Yes Yes VODOBOX
VLC media player Yes No 2.0[18] VideoLAN
XBMC Media Center (cross-platform media player) Yes Partial 12.0 Alpha 5 and later
DRM support requires a monthly/nightly build
XBMC Foundation


Product Technology As Of Version Vendor Notes
VLC 1.2
Unicorn Once SaaS Unicorn Media
IIS Media Services 4.0[11] Microsoft
Antik Media Streamer Ingest Module (UDP/HTTP Transport Stream, Backup Stream with auto-switching, stream status monitoring and logging), Stream replication UDP/HTTP, HLS streaming, Video archive with snapshots, Server-side Timeshift, Timezone Shifting with multi-timezones, Stream Encryption using AES and key-rotation (with Antik Key Server) 3.0 Antik technology
Adobe Media Server Live and VOD streaming as origin and edge server 5.0 Adobe
MythTV 0.25 MythTV
Anevia ViaMotion Servers Transcapsulation: from one input, several outputs
(HLS, MS Smooth Streaming, ADS Flash, MPEG DASH)
Packet Ship OverView:Origin Server Capture from IPTV multicast and chunking to HLS for multi-bandwidth live streams, with AES encryption 2.1 Packet Ship
nangu.TV Streamers on-the-fly adaptation: content is stored once enabling several outputs
(HLS, MS Smooth Streaming, ADS Flash, MPEG DASH)
TVersity Media Server 1.9 TVersity Pro Edition only
Helix Universal Server Live + VOD HLS with Verimatrix DRM integration, ABR, Multi-Resolution, AES encryption 15.0+ RealNetworks High performance HLS (12,000+ concurrent devices)
Wowza Streaming Engine Live and VOD streaming as origin and edge server with DVR, DRM Integration and Transcoding for adaptive delivery. Outputs to MPEG-DASH, HLS, HDS, Smooth Streaming, RTMP, and RTSP 2.0+ Wowza Media Systems
Unified Streaming Platform Muxes media content from one unified source to multiple outputs (Smooth Streaming, HDS, HLS and MPEG DASH) Unified Streaming
Flixwagon Platform Video Server Flixwagon
StreamCoder Live Encoder Realtime video encoder (inputs : DVB/IP stream or video signal). Supports multi-bitrates and multi-languages Ektacom
VODOBOX Live Server Apple HTTP Live Streaming multicast server (compliant with iOS, Android and HLS Flash Player) Vodobox Live transcoding from DVBT tuner, IP streams, DirectShow camera and video input capture card to mobile devices
Apache HTTP Server Apache Software Foundation
Mistserver RTMP to HLS 1.1-pre DDVTECH
Unreal Media Server 9.5 Unreal Streaming Technologies Latency of live streams can be as low as 2.5 seconds over the Internet
InstaTV Server 1.0 InstaTV Live transcoding and streaming of broadcasting TV using any Windows compatible digital tuner to mobile devices
lighttpd 1.4.x
Nimble Streamer RTMP / UDP MPEG-TS to ABR HLS. MP4 / MP3 to VOD HLS 1.0.0-x WMSPanel
Nginx-rtmp-module Free module for nginx server with support of HLS live streaming. Compliant with iOS and Android. 0.9.x Roman Arutyunyan
Nginx Plus VOD HLS as origin NGINX, Inc.
Flussonic Media Server Multi-platform support for HTTP, RTSP, RTMP, Time Shifting, DVR Functions with Unlimited Rewind Capabilities HLS streaming specific to iOS platform support. 3.0+ Flussonic, LLC. Supporting a magnitude of features with full HTTP support.
VBrick Distributed Media Engine ("DME") 2.0 VBrick Systems, Inc. Live and stored HLS. Live can be transmuxed from several input mux including RTP, RTMP, and MPEG-TS using H.264 encoding

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pantos, R.P. (April 2014). "HTTP Live Streaming draft-pantos-http-live-streaming-13". Network Working Group: 1. 
  2. ^ Jordan, Larry (10 June 2013). "The Basics of HTTP Live Streaming". Larry's Blog. Larry Jordan & Associates. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Pantos, R. (30 September 2011). "HTTP Live Streaming". Internet Engineering Task Force. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Application keys". Digital rights management (DRM). upLynk Support. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Internet Drafts are not Open Standards". Anne van Kesteren. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Limelight Orchestrate Video Support". Limelight Networks. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Streaming HowTo: Streaming for the iPhone". VideoLAN Wiki. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Android 3.0 Platform Highlights". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "webOS 3.0.5 Updates". 
  11. ^ a b "First Look: Microsoft IIS Media Services 4". Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Wowza Unifies Media Streaming, Sets Performance Record, Slashes Costs with Production Launch of Wowza Media Server 2 for Flash, iPhone and Beyond". Wowza Media Systems. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "HLS Streaming Player and SDK for Flash". Yospace. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Blogcritics, November 26, 2010. iPad App Review: SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "HLS Streaming Player and SDK for Flash". Onlinelib. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  18. ^ VLC Ticket #2943 (Support for HTTP Live Streaming as a client)

External links[edit]