What is the difference between HLS (M3U8) and MPEG-DASH (MPD)?

mpd vs m3u8

Difference between HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) or M3U8 and MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) or MPD, two popular streaming protocols:

  1. Purpose and Origin:

    • HLS:

      • Developed by Apple, HLS was initially designed to enable live streaming on iPhones.
      • It delivers content via standard HTTP web servers and is widely supported across devices.
    • MPEG-DASH:

      • A newer protocol that serves the same purpose as HLS.
      • It is codec-agnostic and has gained prominence in recent years.
  2. Encoding Formats:

    • MPEG-DASH allows the use of any encoding standard.
    • HLS requires the use of H.264 or H.265 for video encoding.
  3. Device Support:

    • HLS:
      • Exclusive to Apple devices (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.).
      • Almost every device now supports HLS.
    • MPEG-DASH:
      • Compatible with non-Apple devices.
      • iPhones and other Apple products cannot natively play video delivered over MPEG-DASH.
  4. Adaptive Streaming and Quality:

    • Both protocols offer adaptive streaming and similar levels of quality and latency.
    • Previously, MPEG-DASH had an advantage due to its codec-agnostic nature, allowing better quality at lower bitrates.
    • However, HLS now supports HEVC/H.265, narrowing the gap.

In summary, HLS excels in live streaming, especially on Apple devices, while MPEG-DASH is ideal for on-demand streaming and broader compatibility with other devices. Choose based on your specific use case!