Tips & Tricks

MPEG TS vs. HLS: Which Streaming Protocol Reigns Supreme?

4 min read
mpeg ts vs hls

In the video streaming industry, protocols are one of the advanced technology used to deliver video content. There are multiple video streaming protocols in the industry. Each of them has distinct specifications. The MPEG Transport Stream (MPEG-TS) and HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) are two popular streaming protocols used in modern media broadcasting.

This article will provide an overview of the two protocols and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

MPEG TS vs. HLS: A Comparison Table

Protocol Type Packet-based Segment-based
Supported Devices Wide range iOS devices and some desktop browsers
Adaptability Not as adaptable as HLS Highly adaptable
Streaming Quality Reliable and consistent Varies depending on the network
Latency Low Higher than MPEG TS
Analytics Basic Advanced

What is MPEG TS?

MPEG-TS stands for Moving Picture Experts Group-Transport Stream. MPEG- a standard digital container format for transmitting audio and video over the Internet. It is designed to transmit video chunks in a single stream. It’s often used in streaming applications such as television broadcasting and multimedia distribution. MPEG-TS is based on the MPEG-2 transport stream, which contains multiplexed data streams that are then divided into packets of 188 bytes each. These packets contain time stamps that allow for synchronization between the video and audio streams.

How MPEG TS Works

MPEG Transport Stream (MPEG TS) is primarily used in broadcasting scenarios, enabling a broadcasting server to send video chunks to many receivers simultaneously. MPEG TS breaks up the video into smaller pieces or chunks. Then it transmits these chunks over the network. This can be done in various ways, including using IP multicast packets or HTTP streaming.

The basic components of MPEG TS are the packet headers, which contain information about the data that follows. The payloads are then transmitted as part of the packet, including audio and video data. Packets also contain timing information so they can be reassembled in their original order at their destination. Moreover, additional data, such as program guide information and closed captioning data, is included for accessibility purposes.

An efficient way of encoding the data must be used for this transmission to occur successfully. This will help to send data quickly and without errors. To this end, MPEG TS employs forward error correction techniques. This technique allows for correcting any errors that may occur during transmission at the receiving end with minimal delay or disruption. The correction process ensures that users receive high-quality streams with minimal buffering or glitches while watching them online.

Advanced Features of MPEG TS

MPEG transport stream (TS) is a packet-based protocol with a variable bit rate, making it suitable for delivering high-quality content efficiently. TS uses network bandwidth more efficiently than other streaming protocols, such as HLS, by adjusting the bitrate according to the available bandwidth. The key features of this protocol are:

MPEG-TS includes precise time-stamping and synchronization information.

  • It can perform error correction to recover lost or corrupted streaming data.
  • MPEG-TS supports adaptive bitrate streaming
  • It’s a container format protocol means it can carry multiple audio, video, and data streams.
  • It supports various codecs, including H.264, HEVC, and AAC.
  • It can interconnect with different systems and devices.
  • MPEG-TS is designed to use bandwidth efficiently
  • MPEG-TS supports scalable bitrate and resolution

What is HLS?

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is a protocol designed for streaming video content. It is used to deliver multimedia streams consisting of audio and video elements and other data, such as subtitles or closed captioning. HLS enables a media player to switch between different codecs and bitrates. With HLS streaming, viewers can watch the highest quality stream possible based on their current connection speeds. It makes HLS ideal for delivering video content to various devices with different hardware capabilities.

How HLS Works

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) enables the delivery of audio and video files to viewers by breaking down the raw content into smaller chunks. Then it sends the chunked data through multiple HTTP-based connections. HLS is an adaptive bitrate streaming technique. It can adjust the quality of the video being sent to match the user’s bandwidth.

HLS divides a source file into small segments, which are then delivered to users in sequence. The server sends out streams with different bitrates. Thus the users with more bandwidth get higher-quality, and users with less bandwidth get lower-quality visuals. This ABR feature of HLS ensures an excellent viewing experience without buffering.

When using HLS for live streaming, the server continuously sends out new chunks of data to keep up with real-time events. It allows viewers to watch live events without waiting for large files to be downloaded before they can start watching. HLS also gives developers more flexibility when creating live broadcasting applications.

Advanced Features of HLS

HLS has these advanced features:

  • Adaptive bitrate streaming
  • Compatible with HTTP
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Support for different audio and video codecs
  • Efficient bandwidth use
  • Segmented content delivery
  • Playlist file format


MPEG TS and HLS both offer advantages and disadvantages. It is important to consider the requirements of each streaming service. Before choosing a video streaming protocol, you should determine your streaming purpose and audience.

MPEG TS offers higher-quality video and audio than HLS. But it requires greater bandwidth and storage space than the HLS. Additionally, since MPEG TS files are larger than HLS files, they take longer to download or buffer before playback. This can cause disruptions in streaming services with large audiences, as viewers may experience delays while waiting for their videos to start playing.

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