Video Encoding Formats For Streaming

A lot happens behind the scenes when it comes to streaming. With a basic understanding of all the processes involved in video streaming, you need to know their whereabouts too for professional broadcasting. 

Even without the knowledge of video engineering, it is important to understand the streaming codecs. As codecs impact the streaming equipment requirements, budget, compatibility, bandwidth needs, and much more.

Understanding the codec’s specifications and their workability equips you with the technical knowledge for seamless and smooth streaming every time. 

In this article, we shall understand different video encoding formats, their specifications, and how each of them impacts the streaming process. In detail, we will be discussing the codecs and their working, which help you in determining the best encoding format for your streaming. 

The Role Of Encoding In Streaming

With a streaming process, you need a platform that provides seamless video broadcasting by converting the files into compatible formats directly.

That’s where we need video encoders, which is a mathematical process that helps in reducing the video file size by removing the unwanted or redundant cached data, without impacting the video quality.

The complex part here is to determine the type of codecs and determine the settings which will be best for your streaming.

It requires more processing power for codecs to compress video to smaller-sized chunks while retaining their quality. So, basically, the codecs compare different frames with each other, and if the previous frame contains the same data, then it can be removed from the second frame. 

Another way of looking at video encoding is the choice between lossless and lossy compression. Here, the lossy compression helps in simplifying the video files’ data by keeping the essential parts intact.

This is why video streaming using lossy compression may look fuzzy or pixelated. For example, if you want to send a video of fishes in an aquarium to your friend, the formatted lossy compressed video file will show every fish, but it may choose a single fish color shade instead of providing original shades of the fishes.

Another form of video compression is lossless, which copies every piece of data from the original video file and preserves the quality of the video.

Here, if you send your friend the video of fishes in the aquarium, it will capture every shade of the fish colors present, but the file size would be too huge to send via email or text. 

That’s why both compression formats have respective advantages and disadvantages. To decide the trade between the video quality and size of the video file, encoding formats help in selecting the best choice for your streaming purpose. 

Different Video Encoding Formats For Streaming


The video file format, QuickTime Movie, was created by Apple. You can run the formats on both Windows OS and Mac OS, but it is compatible with only QuickTime video players.

This format preserves your video quality at its best but suffers from compression issues than its alternatives like MP4 format. 


Motion Picture Expert Group created Mpeg-4 (MP4) video file format for streaming purposes. It is helpful in compressing the video and audio files separately, allowing only the MP4 files in retaining the high video quality relatively after the compression. The devices of both Android OS and iOS are compatible with the MP4 formats. 


The Flash Video Format (FLV) provides the advantage of compressing video files without causing severe video quality loss, which is created by Adobe Flash.

Though it is not compatible with various devices and operating systems as compared to other formats, which is why android devices and different browsers do support this format, and you cannot play its video files on iOS devices like iPads or iPhones.

Moreover, the browser support for Adobe flash has been dropped from December 21, 2020, due to its security issues.


The WebM video file format, which is developed by Google, is a highly adaptive encoding format for most audio and video codecs and provides compatibility with a wide range of devices and platforms.

It is an open-source, and web-friendly alternative to MP4 format, maintaining high video quality in the compressed version. HTML5 supports both the WebM and MP4 video encoding formats.


Microsoft created Audio Video Interleave (AVI) video file format, which is one of the oldest video file containers.

The AVI file format can work with different codecs, which may affect the supportability of the video files by different browsers and OS. This format provides bigger-sized files with better video quality after compression.

Final Thoughts

With this, you have understood how the video encoding process works with various types of encoding formats and their specifications and disadvantages. This helps you in determining the right video encoding format for your streaming purposes. 

Also, the article it is explained why we need video encoding for video streaming, and also you gain knowledge about professional video encoding which gives you the confidence for understanding video streaming in a better way.