Tips & Tricks

WebRTC vs HLS: Comparing Two Video Streaming Protocols

5 min read

WebRTC and HLS are two different types of video streaming protocols. While both allow for live-streaming, they each come with their advantages and disadvantages that users should be aware of to make a more informed decision.

WebRTC is an open-source protocol that allows for the transmission of audio, video data (in both directions), and text between browsers. It is often praised for its low latency video streaming and ability to work in peer-to-peer networks, making it a popular choice for live-streaming applications.

HLS, on the other hand, is a protocol developed by Apple that uses a segmented file format to deliver video content over HTTP. It means that it can be compatible with a broader range of devices and comes with higher latency.

So, which one is the best choice for you? It depends on your needs. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at each protocol and help you decide which one is the right fit for you.

Let’s start with the basic concepts of video streaming protocol, WebRTC, and HLS, and which one is perfect for low latency streaming.


What is Video Streaming Protocol?

A video streaming protocol is a set of rules that govern how video data is transmitted from one point to another. It helps to ensure that the data arrives intact and in the correct order. Streaming protocols can be used to stream video over the internet or between devices on a local network.

Video Streaming Protocol

There are several different video streaming protocols, each with advantages and disadvantages. The most popular streaming protocols are:

WebRTC and HLS are two of the most common video streaming protocols. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

What is WebRTC?

The acronym WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communication and is an open framework that enables web browsers to stream audio and video data and digital signals natively. WebRTC protocol is free and open-source, which makes it a popular choice for many developers.

WebRTC Protocol

One of the advantages of using WebRTC is that it doesn’t require any plugins or third-party software to be installed. It also offers low-latency streaming, perfect for live-streaming applications such as video conferencing and gaming.

That’s why video streaming software uses WebRTC to power its low-latency live streaming features. Castr is one of them. It is a live streaming platform that uses WebRTC to ensure ultra-low-latency live streams.


What is HLS?

For short, HTTP Live Streaming, or HLS, is a streaming protocol developed by Apple in 2009. It uses a segmented file format to deliver video over the internet and is one of the most common protocols used today.

HLS Protocol

In current video streaming technology, low latency HLS streaming is one of the few ways to achieve live video streaming with low latency and adaptive bitrate streaming.

Comparing WebRTC vs HLS Streaming Protocols:

WebRTC vs HLS Delivery Method:

WebRTC and HLS streaming protocols use different delivery methods for data transmission. WebRTC video streaming employs bidirectional peer-to-peer connections for real-time communication, while HLS uses a client-server model. It means that HLS requires a server to send the video stream to clients, while WebRTC allows clients to send video streams directly to each other. WebRTC is UDP-based, (Read UDP vs TCP) while HLS uses TCP (transmission control protocol). It means that WebRTC can provide lower latency than HLS.

WebRTC vs HLS Latency:

Since WebRTC is a UDP-based protocol, it’s faster than HLS. HLS can experience some latency because it uses a client-server model. In general, though, both protocols provide relatively low latency.

WebRTC vs HLS Video Quality:

When it comes to output video quality, WebRTC and HLS streaming protocols are both capable to produce high-quality streams. However, WebRTC can deliver higher quality video than HLS. This is because WebRTC uses peer-to-peer streaming, which allows for more direct communication between clients. HLS protocol, on the other hand, uses a client-server model. It means that there is some lag time between the server and the clients. As a result, HLS streams typically don’t look as good as WebRTC streams.

WebRTC vs HLS Scalability:

Scalability is an important consideration when choosing a video streaming protocol. WebRTC is a peer-to-peer protocol, which means that it can scale to a large number of users without any degradation in quality. HLS, on the other hand, uses a client-server model. It means that it can’t scale as well as WebRTC.

HLS vs WebRTC Security:

Both WebRTC and HLS streaming protocols offer a high level of security. WebRTC uses DTLS for encryption, while HLS uses TLS. Both protocols are secure and provide a high level of protection for data transmission.

Flexibility and Compatibility of WebRTC and HLS:

WebRTC and HLS streaming protocols are compatible with various devices and platforms. WebRTC is widely supported with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Adobe Flash Player, and Safari.

HLS is compatible with iOS, Android, and various other devices. Both protocols are compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms.

Final Thoughts

WebRTC is a newer technology and is not as widely supported as HLS. However, it is quickly gaining support and is likely to become the dominant streaming protocol. HLS is more widely supported but can be less reliable and has higher latency than WebRTC. Both protocols offer a high level of quality and security. It is important to choose the right protocol for your needs. If you need low latency and high quality, then WebRTC is the best choice. If you need compatibility with a wide range of devices, then HLS is the best choice.


Castr is the live streaming software that supports both WebRTC and HLS protocols. You can use Castr to stream your video content using either protocol. If you’re not sure which protocol to use, you can try both in your streaming project and see which one works best for real-time latency. Castr is the best other streaming software in the market for its quality of service and reliability. You can try Castr for free today and see how it can help you stream your content.

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