NDI Protocol – Everything Broadcasters Need to Know in 2024

NDI Protocol – Everything Broadcasters Need to Know Image

NDI (Network Device Interface) is revolutionizing the video streaming industry. With the NDI protocol, broadcasters can seamlessly stream high-quality, low latency transmissions over IP networks. It has advanced compression techniques, it’s easy to integrate, and it has great scalability. What’s more, it enhances flexibility, streamlines workflows, and reduces setup costs. In a nutshell, NDI is transforming traditional live video streaming methods.

In this post, we cover all you need to know about the NDI protocol for broadcasters. We begin by defining what NDI is and its purpose. We then delve into the technical aspects of NDI. Finally, we go into key features and compare NDI to other streaming protocols.

Table of Contents

  • What is the NDI protocol?
  • Technical Overview of NDI
  • Key Features of NDI for Video Streaming
  • What is the NDI protocol?
  • Use Cases of NDI in Video Streaming
  • NDI Implementation for Video Streaming
  • Comparison with Other Streaming Protocols
  • Future Trends and Innovations
  • Conclusion

What is the NDI protocol?

newtek ndi protocol
NDI stands for Network Device Interface. NDI® is a software technology, developed by NewTek. Source: Zsystems

Defining NDI (Network Device Interface)

Network Device Interface (NDI) is a proprietary protocol that was developed by NewTek. It enables video-compatible software and hardware to communicate, deliver, and receive high definition video. It does this smoothly over IP computer networks such as LAN and WAN in real time with minimal latency.

NDI is becoming increasingly relied upon in modern video production and streaming. It facilitates high-quality, low latency video delivery while reducing the need for specialized cabling. NDI can replace expensive and complicated SDI (Serial Digital Interface) runs and even many HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cables with inexpensive and easy-to-use Cat 5/CA6 ethernet cables. NDI simplifies the entire workflow, making video production and streaming easier for broadcasters.

Purpose and Significance in Video Production and Streaming

NDI’s ability to transmit high definition video over IP networks with minimal latency makes it crucial in producing high quality video production and streaming today. A great benefit of this low latency streaming with NDI is that it simplifies workflows. It does this by enhancing flexibility in different production environments.

The NDI protocol enables smooth integration between multiple sources. It allows for professional quality broadcasts, live events, and remote collaboration in all manner of circumstances and infrastructures.

Enabling High-quality Video Streaming Over IP Networks

The NDI streaming protocol allows for the highest quality streaming over IP networks. It does this by utilizing advanced compression techniques that consistently deliver the best quality results while minimizing bandwidth. This low latency transmission ensures high-quality video streaming delivered in real-time, essential for live broadcasts.

Real-time video streaming with NDI is a highly compatible, cost-effective solution. Its high compatibility with existing network infrastructures simplifies the setup process. This makes it a cost-effective solution for many broadcasters and businesses compared to standard Ethernet networks.

Technical Overview of NDI

1. How NDI Facilitates Video Streaming

The NDI video streaming protocol provides video streaming through a protocol stack and architecture designed for minimal latency with fantastic video fidelity.

2. Overview of NDI Protocol Stack and Architecture

The NDI protocol stack and architecture are designed to optimize high-quality, low latency video over IP networks. It’s based on a unique, proprietary codec for efficient real-time video compression. This codec also enables high-rate video compression which balances efficiency with visual clarity. 

The NDI network architecture has discovery and control mechanisms using mDNS (Multicast DNS). This provides automatic device identification and communication on the network. Furthermore, NDI supports unicast and multicast IP streaming, allowing for versatile point-to-point and point-to-multipoint video distribution. Altogether, this stack ensures seamless integration between multiple video sources and destinations. The result is robust, scalable video production and streaming.

3. Explanation of Video Encoding and Transmission Mechanisms

The video encoding and transmission mechanisms of the NDI protocol are designed with efficiency and quality at the center. Employing intra-frame compression, it compresses individual video frames independently to minimize latency. This ensures that each frame is processed and transmitted in real-time, which is particularly beneficial for live applications.

Furthermore, NDI’s propriety codec is optimized for high definition video. The transmission mechanism leverages unicast for direct device communication. It does the same with multicast for simultaneous multi-device streaming. These mechanisms maintain efficient bandwidth use combined with low latency and high video quality. The result is seamless, real-time video and audio transmission over standard IP networks.

4. Emphasis on Low latency and High-fidelity Video Streaming

NDI is excellent for low latency, high-fidelity video streaming. It’s ideal for real-time applications such as live broadcasts and interactive sessions. With its advanced compression techniques, it minimizes data size while preserving video quality. Also, it ensures efficient bandwidth use without sacrificing visual clarity.

The NDI protocol’s intra-frame compression and optimized transmission processes reduce latency and deliver video immediately. This combination ensures that NDI streams consistently provide sharp, clear video in real time, enhancing the viewer experience.

Key Features of NDI for Video Streaming

1. Low latency Transmission for Real-time Applications

NDI is great for low latency transmission. Crucial for real-time applications such as live broadcasting, video conferencing, and interactive media, NDI streaming solutions are becoming evermore vital. NDI encompasses optimized compression and transmission protocols, minimizing delay. This facilitates the ultra-smooth, real-time interaction and content delivery broadcasters need.

2. High-quality Video and Audio Streaming

Another of the key benefits of NDI in video broadcasting is how it supports high definition video and audio streaming. Its advanced compression techniques maintain high visual and audio quality and optimize bandwidth use simultaneously. This results in streams that are delivered with superior detail, even when streamed over standard IP networks.

3. Scalability and Flexibility in Network Configurations

The NDI protocol offers great scalability and flexibility. 

First, it adapts to various network configurations including small studio setups and large-scale production environments. Also, the NDI streaming protocol can accommodate several video sources and destinations. This strong adaptability makes it compatible with a diverse set of applications including local area networks and more complex, multi-site setups.

4. Bi-directional Communication Capabilities

NDI features bi-directional communication capabilities. This enables the simultaneous sending and receiving of video and audio data. Essential for remote collaboration and interactive video production, it allows multiple participants to exchange video feeds in real time. This betters collaborative efforts and production workflows.

Use Cases of NDI in Video Streaming

live streaming video

Live Video Production and Broadcasting

The NDI protocol revolutionizes live video broadcasting and production in several ways. For one, it enables the seamless integration of multiple video sources. This includes cameras, graphics systems, and playback devices. 

Furthermore, its low latency and high-fidelity capabilities mean that live switching, overlaying graphics, and audio mixing can be done in real-time to produce professional-quality broadcasts. With NDI, broadcasters benefit from reduced setup complexity, saving time and money. This is due to how NDI leverages existing network infrastructure without requiring specialized cabling.

Integration with Virtual Sets and Augmented Reality

By incorporating NDI into virtual sets and augmented reality, creative possibilities and viewer engagement are increased. NDI has real-time video transmission which allows for the compositing of live video interactive elements and virtual backgrounds. This ability to integrate various elements is crucial for creating immersive, responsive virtual environments.

Remote Collaboration and Video Conferencing

The NDI protocol’s bi-directional communication capabilities make it ideal for remote collaboration and video conferencing. It can produce high-quality video and audio streams, seamlessly transmitting them between participants in different geographical locations. In this era of remote work, the NDI protocol stands out as particularly effective and preferable for teams that need reliable remote collaboration.

Educational Streaming and E-learning Platforms

Using streaming in the educational setting is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. NDI enables e-learning platforms to reliably deliver high-quality instructional content. With NDI, educators can easily broadcast lectures, virtual classrooms, and create interactive learning experiences. Its scalability ensures the accommodation of many participants and different network environments. This makes it a powerful and versatile tool for all kinds of educational institutions.

Esports and Gaming Streaming

Esports and gaming are huge industries. Gamers are notorious for being obsessed with getting the lowest latency possible—especially competitive gamers. Fortunately, the NDI protocol enables low latency, high definition video and enables the capture and broadcast of high definition gameplay in real time which is crucial for competitive events. 

NDI Implementation for Video Streaming

NDI-enabled Software and Hardware Solutions for Streaming

Implementing NDI video streaming requires utilizing NDI-enabled software and hardware. Examples include software such as OBS Studio, vMix, and Wirecast. These support NDI and allow easy integration of NDI sources into streaming workflows. 

When it comes to hardware, NDI encoders, converters, and cameras provide the right interfaces for capturing and transmitting video over IP networks.

Compatibility with Streaming Platforms and Encoding Software

NDI is compatible with many live streaming platforms and encoding software. YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Twitch support NDI streams. This enables the direct broadcasting of NDI-enabled video feeds and ensures easy integration with existing streaming setups and efficient content delivery to traditional streaming protocols along RTMP and HLS networks.

Tips for Optimizing NDI-based Streaming Setups

Any broadcaster wants to optimize their streaming setups—and NDI makes that easy. An NDI streaming setup guide should include optimizing NDI-based streaming setups by ensuring your network infrastructure supports the required bandwidth. Preferably, this will be a gigabit Ethernet network.

Furthermore, you should implement Quality of Service (QoS) settings to prioritize NDI traffic. This further reduces latency. By properly configuring NDI-enabled devices to match resolution and frame rates, you ensure consistent video quality. Also, be sure to utilize network monitoring tools to identify and address potential performance issues.

Limitations and Considerations When Choosing NDI for Streaming

While NDI has a plethora of benefits, it has some drawbacks. 

For one, its high bandwidth requirements can strain network infrastructure. This means that high-speed and robust networks are necessary for optimal performance. And although it is highly compatible, compatibility issues can still arise. This is because not all broadcasting platforms and devices support NDI. 

Furthermore, managing multiple NDI sources and destinations, especially in larger deployments, can be complex. In these cases, thorough planning and network management are required to ensure smooth operations.

Future Trends and Innovations

Adoption in Emerging Technologies

The NDI protocol is going to continue to be fused with emerging technologies such as 5G and cloud-based streaming. The high bandwidth and low latency of 5G networks work perfectly with NDI’s capabilities, providing even more robust and flexible video streaming solutions. 

Furthermore, cloud based streaming will allow for more scalable and remote workflows using NDI’s IP-based infrastructure. As these technologies continue to be deployed, NDI will become more ubiquitous.

Integration with AI for Automated Video Processing

In terms of integration with AI (Artificial Intelligence), NDI is poised to take a frontal stance. NDI’s ability to integrate with AI technologies will enable automated video processing advancements. 

Combined with NDI, AI can optimize video quality, manage bandwidth, and automate tasks more effectively. Integrating these technologies will further streamline production workflows, enhance video quality output, and reduce operational costs.

Improvements in Codec Efficiency for Enhanced Streaming Experiences

There will be continual improvements in NDI’s codec efficiency which will further enhance the streaming experience. This includes advances in compression algorithms, allowing for higher-quality video at even lower bitrates. It also includes reducing bandwidth demands and increasing video streaming smoothness over diverse network conditions. 

Overall, this will make NDI even more attractive for a wide range of applications, including professional broadcasting, remote education, and Esports.


NDI is the future of video streaming—and it’s here now. With its unparalleled capabilities to produce high-quality, low latency transmissions, ease of integration, scalability and cost-effectiveness, increasing numbers of broadcasters are using it. NDI’s the ideal solution for many industries including broadcasting, live events education, gaming, and more.

Dacast is a live streaming and video streaming solution that will enhance your video streaming efforts. With Dacast, you can broadcast video, stream live events, and much more. With 24/7 support, monetization, and secure video uploading at the best prices, Dacast is trusted by the biggest brands for hosting and streaming the highest quality video.

You can try Dacast for 14 days with our free trial.

Get Started for Free


1. What is NDI?

NDI (Network Device Interface) is a proprietary protocol that facilitates high-quality, low latency video and audio transmissions over IP networks.

2. What Are the Key Features of NDI?

NDI’s key features include high-quality video and audio streaming, low latency transmission, network configuration scalability, and bi-directional communication capabilities. 

3. What is Dacast?

Dacast is a professional streaming platform for businesses, organizations, and creators with tools for live broadcasting, video hosting, monetization, and more.

Jon Whitehead

Jon is the Chief Operating Officer at Dacast. He has over 20 years of experience working in Digital Marketing with a specialty in AudioVisual and Live Streaming technology.