How to Convert RTMP to HLS for Live Video Streaming

How to Convert RTMP to HLS for Live Video Streaming Image

Do you know how to change RTMP to HLS for live video streaming?

RTMP and HTTP live streaming HLS are two streaming protocols that help transport live streams between the recording equipment, the encode, and the live streaming platform.

With the right video streaming host, you can automatically convert a single RTMP feed from your video encoder to HTTP live streaming on the server.

Here at Dacast, we use a stream packaging tool from Akamai for this process.

Today, we’ll examine how Dacast and other video streaming platforms use these protocols.

We will define RTMP and HTTP live streaming before comparing their roles and discussing how to transform RTMP into HLS.

Are you ready to learn about RTMP and HLS? Let’s get started!

  • What is a Streaming Protocol?
  • What is RTMP?
  • What is HLS?
  • How to Convert RTMP to HLS for Live Streaming
  • Benefits of HLS Streaming
  • Conclusion

What is a Streaming Protocol?

First, when it comes to live streaming content, video files in various formats have to be transmitted from one device to another almost instantaneously. Video files are generally huge, making this feat quite impressive.

Streaming protocols are seemingly magical technology that makes live streaming possible. From a technical standpoint, video streaming protocols are standardized rules and methods for taking large media files or video files and using a streaming protocol to stream video content to viewer’s devices.

Thanks to today’s advanced streaming protocols, the files can be quickly delivered to the end user, reassembled, and turned back into videos you can watch.

There are several video streaming protocols, but at this point, HLS is the most crucial streaming protocol, with RTMP coming in second.

What is RTMP?

You must use either live stream encoding software or a hardware encoder when setting up a live stream. The encoder connects to your video camera and other mobile live streaming equipment.

It then converts its RAW video output to a digital format better suited for live streaming. Most often, the default streaming protocol format for your encoder will be RTMP

RTMP stands for Real-Time Messaging Protocol and is a Macromedia (Adobe) standard created for real-time streaming of audio, video files, and associated data over the internet.

It creates a constant connection between the client and server, which allows data to be quickly moved to the end user.

The End of Flash Player and the Birth of RTMP

This streaming protocol was initially created to transmit files from a server to a Flash video player. Since Flash is no longer used, many assume RTMP’s streaming protocol has gone down.

Rather than dying out completely like other streaming protocols, RTMP, or real-time messaging protocol, has shifted gears. The streaming protocol is now responsible for feeding data to the streaming solution from the encoder.

That’s a more minor role in the live streaming process, but it is still imperative. The process is called ingest, and according to a 2021 Video Streaming Latency Report study, 76.6% of surveyed used RTMP streaming protocols for ingesting.

Various streaming encoders—used by small operations and broadcast-level professionals, such as Wirecast vMix OBS Studio—create feeds using real time messaging protocol.

What is HLS?

what is hls streaming

Apple created HLS as a better alternative to RTMP and Flash Player.

Have you heard of HLS streaming? If you haven’t, you must know it is an essential piece of streaming protocol technology.

Apple created HLS streaming to allow video streaming on mobile devices with an iOS operating system, such as the iPhone and iPad.

That was necessary because mobile devices using the iOS operating system were not compatible with Flash Player and the RTMP technology used by Flash Player.

Why Is HSL So Popular With Broadcasters?

HSL requires little more than the ordinary web server to stream video data without compromising on video playback speed.

Another key feature of using an HLS stream was video quality. The video stream would automatically adjust video quality according to available network conditions.

Mobile devices with an iOS operating system, including the iPhone and iPad, are incompatible with Flash Player, which primarily uses RTMP.

HLS, shorthand for HTTP live streaming, was Apple’s solution to ensure that live video streaming was possible for its mobile users.

Is HSL Compatible With All Devices?

Don’t worry; HLS’s streaming protocols are compatible with more than just Apple iOS devices. It is compatible with most internet-enabled devices.

Another Android-friendly solution is Microsoft Smooth Streaming. Although not natively supported by all Android devices, this streaming protocol is primarily used for the adaptive streaming of video content.

Microsoft’s Streaming Solution- How to Use MSS to Turn RTMP Into HSL

Microsoft Smooth Streaming can also be used to convert RTMP into HLS using stream packaging tools, such as Akamai, the one used by Dacast.

These tools convert the RTMP feed from the video encoder into HLS at the server’s end using Microsoft Smooth Streaming protocol.

We’d like to point out that HTTP live streaming or HLS is sometimes called an HTML5 video, but this is erroneous. HTML5 is an entirely different standard.

Converting RTMP to HLS for Live Streaming

Having RTMP and HLS feeds available is valuable.

An HLS stream is based on HTTP. The HTTP protocol and HLS streaming protocol are two different formats that exist for different types of devices.

If you want to reach the largest possible audience with your live stream, you need to encode your RTMP stream to HLS. That’s known as HLS ingest for live streaming. That way, the client’s device can access any of these streams.

How Dacast Simplifies the Conversion Process Using Akamai

With the right video streaming host, you can automatically convert a single RTMP feed from your video encoder to HLS on the server end.

Here at Dacast, we use a live streaming packaging tool from Akamai.

Akamai uses RTMP ingest for live streaming and video delivery from your encoder, then automatically transcodes the stream as HTTP live streaming in near real-time, preparing the live broadcasts for any device format.

For live streaming, The process creates a minimal (30-45 seconds) delay on the camera feed. As you can see, converting RTMP to an HLS stream for live video streaming and video delivery happens behind the scenes.

All you have to do is choose a service, like Dacast, with the right tools and streaming protocols to make this process happen for your video content.

Once the service transcodes the video content, Dacast uses two top-tier live streaming CDNs (content delivery networks) to distribute the content via hundreds of thousands of servers worldwide.

This global service network ensures that live streams are delivered quickly and seamlessly anywhere on the planet.

Using these top-tier video CDNs also helps ensure reliability. If a server goes down or a million viewers suddenly show up for your broadcast, your content will flow smoothly.

All of this also means that any device can view your content seamlessly. The content delivery network automatically selects and delivers the best streaming protocol automatically.

Using a global CDN reduces costs by ensuring that you only need one encoder. You can reach a global audience with a single setting and encoder.

Benefits of HLS Streaming

There are a few reasons why RTMP ingest to HLS streaming is so popular that you should be aware of.

  1. Cross-device compatible:

 HLS streaming can be used on any device with a compatible video player, such as HTML5. Most all internet-connected devices support HLS.

  1. Multiple audio tracks: 

If you are streaming content worldwide and want to provide audio in different languages, HTTP live streaming HLS supports multiple audio tracks for one video track. That makes multi-language live streams possible.

  1. Ad insertion: 

Want to monetize your video content? That can easily be achieved with ad insertion through VPAID and VAST interfaces.

  1. Subtitles: 

Need accessible content? most HLS streams support closed captions, making your content accessible to a larger audience.

  1. Privacy protection: 

HTTP live streaming HLS streaming works with a wide variety of DRM technologies, helping to support privacy protection.


In this article, we’ve walked you through the basics of RTMP and HLS live streaming and the value of the RTMP to the HLS conversion process.

If you’re looking for an easy way to convert your RTMP stream to HLS, we encourage investing in a live streaming solution like Dacast that makes the process seamless.

When you live stream with Dacast, your content is automatically available in whatever format is best for your viewers.

Note: You can also access these full instructions on how to start live streaming with Dacast. When you go live, your content is automatically available in the best format for your viewers.

Want to stream live video on your website and maintain content control? We’ve got you covered!

Plan to do regular, business-related broadcasts? We’ll help you reach all your viewers with the best quality stream possible. If you need additional help figuring out how to convert RTMP to HDS and HLS, or other support with live streaming, you can contact our technical support department from within your Dacast account.

We invite you to try Dacast risk-free for 14 days. Access all of our features and see our powerful video streaming technology. All you have to do to get started is sign up today. No credit card is required.

Did you find this article helpful? Do you have questions, comments, or ideas for other topics you’d like us to cover in our articles?

Let us know in the comment section below, and thanks for reading! You can also join our LinkedIn group for regular live streaming tips and exclusive offers


Max Wilbert

Max Wilbert is a passionate writer, live streaming practitioner, and has strong expertise in the video streaming industry.