Relevance and Problems of Live Streaming Encoders

Demystifying Live Streaming Encoders.

Author : Biswarup Dasgupta

Date: 12 SEP 2023

We all watch live streaming and enjoy the uninterrupted viewing experience. What most people do not know is the encoder that is behind the seamless video playing. 

People often ask whether we really need a Live Streaming Encoder. The answer is YES. Most of us are now out of the linear television experience in the digital era. We are more interested in the online over-the-top (OTT) content that basically runs on the internet. To ensure a smooth and seamless content delivery across the location and devices, encoders play the most significant role by converting the raw video files into digital content.

Live Streaming Encoders and the Functions

To delve deep into the topic, let’s first know what an encoder is and its functions.

Live Streaming Encoders

A Live Streaming encoder can be of both hardware and software tools. It converts the raw videos into smaller segments, giving a smooth delivery through the Content Delivery Network) CDN to multiple devices. 

Encoders mostly use a video compression algorithm called Codecs (H.264/AVC or (H.265/HEVC) to compress the raw videos by 1,000 times. These algorithms ensure seamless video delivery irrespective of devices and internet bandwidth. 

For example, viewers use multiple devices, such as television, PC, mobile phone, tab, etc., to consume content. Also, these consumers might be from different locations where the bandwidths are different or inadequate. 

That’s when Live-streaming encoders or codecs come into the scene to ensure the delivery of seamless video by compressing the videos 

Which Encoder Should a Broadcaster Use

If we have to integrate an encoder for better streaming, which one should we go among the hardware and the software encoders? 

Software encoders are comparatively cheap and easy to use. Multiple software encoders are available in the market with distinct features and capabilities. Choosing the suitable encoder for a specific streaming platform is a challenge, though. 

Streaming platforms and broadcasters must be very careful while choosing the encoder for their system. For beginners, suitable software such as AWS, MediaLive, and Akamai can do wonders by providing real-time video streaming with its high-end technology. 

Broadcasters often need a hardware encoder for advanced streaming setups to easily accumulate large volumes of raw video files and provide a seamless delivery to the viewers. 

With the advancement of technology, software encoders are also making it to large volumes of data with equal efficiency. Hence, such encoders are pushing it to be among the top choices regarding streaming platforms and their encoder requirement. 

We even see some encoders attached to the camera; thus, we do not need to outsource encoders separately. Nowadays, even social media channels have pre-implemented encoders for live streaming. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are a few examples.

However, these encoders are less efficient for a large volume of video content. Thus, broadcasters must choose between the software and hardware encoders suitable for the streaming platform. 

Functions of Live Streaming Encoders

Encoders convert video data into digital format and transmit it through the devices, maintaining the quality irrespective of the bandwidth. Broadcasters mostly use the common encoding standard, such as H.264, H.265, VP9, and AV1. 

Here is how Live Streaming Encoders helps in seamless content delivery:

  • The Live Streaming Encoders accumulate all the data and break them into segments
  • It later cut out the unnecessary content and made it smaller in size without compromising the quality
  • The encoder does not render every frame, e.g., If there is already a background existing, then the encoder recognizes it and uses it for the later frames
  • The rendering process is done that way, and that’s how encoders trim out the extensive data from the raw video
  • Once the cut-out process is done, Live Streaming Encoders put the content in a standard format, such as Real-time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) and Secure Reliable Transport (SRT), that helps transport content between the encoder and the host
  • The contents are even repackaged, often using other protocols such as HTTP Live Streaming and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming to make the contents more scalable and adaptable to watch at different internet speeds on different devices


Once the encoding process is done, a decoder built into the player software plays the compressed video content without compromising the quality. 

In this, another process called transcoding is also often involved. However, it is not necessary. Transcoding is a process where the transcoder takes the encoder content, alters and further decompresses it for the end users. 

If the video quality does not turn out to be good, then only transcoding is needed where it is slightly altered and provides consumers with better-quality content.

Challenges in Live Streaming Encoding

We have discussed how vital Live Streaming Encoders are for seamless content delivery. In OTT, sorting and distributing data from a small space is crucial. We no longer use DVDs or external disks for content storage. 

We need compressed data to fit everything over the internet, which is only possible with Live Streaming encoders. However, implementing a suitable encoder for a streaming platform or broadcasters is often challenging. 

Let us discuss the challenges broadcasters face while implementing a Live Streaming Encoder to their streaming service:

  • Often broadcasters, especially those who are new in the business, ignore the importance of a Live Streaming Encoder and end up delivering poor video content to the end users
  • Even if they are aware of the importance of Encoder, they lack the knowledge of which encoder will be best for their streaming service
  • There is constant confusion among the broadcasters about whether they should use free software encoders or hardware
  • Streaming developers find it challenging to maintain low latency while using an encoder for video content delivery

Maintaining low latency is extremely difficult, especially while using software or cloud encoders because of their slower encoding process. 

When the challenges are prominent, there are also solutions for choosing the right Live Streaming Encoder for the streaming platforms. Organizations like Logituit provide an end-to-end solution to Live Streaming Encoder’s needs, implementation, and successful deployment across networks and devices through powerful CDN. 

Wrapping Up

As we are rapidly approaching the advancement of technology and a massively competitive space, broadcasters must ensure the quality of their content. And when quality is concerned, Live Streaming Encoders are a must.

It is essential to implement suitable Encoders for the streaming platform that efficiently accumulate and chuck all the content data according to their importance and relevance. 

Along with the Encoders, Live Streaming Service Providers also need to consider transcoding when there is a necessity for seamless content delivery. Consumers have many options and won’t spare time for lagged and poor-quality content.

Thus, maintaining the quality content throughout the implementation of entire encoding, transcoding, and decoding through players such as set-top-box or firesticks is crucial for a successful content delivery journey. 


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