DASH vs. HLS: Request for Comments

Lots of excellent articles on DASH recently; I’m trying to summarize them for a presentation on Multiple Screen Delivery at Streaming Media East. The table below is my attempt to do so, and to compare how easily one can implement DASH as compared to HLS. 

I’m looking at the three platforms (desktop, mobile and OTT), and the multiple mechanisms to reach them. Here’s what I mean for each category.

Browser/native – supported by browser or OS with no modifications.

Off the Shelf Player – like JW Player, can add support for browser playback; usually relying on the Flash Player for decode. True programming not required. Not available for mobile or OTT.

App – I restricted this to mobile (could extend to OTT but included that in Custom Player). Essentially, how accessible are the mechanisms that enable support for either DASH or HLS on the respective mobile platforms. 

Custom Player Creation – on the desktop, this goes beyond what you can do with an OTS player and requires actual programming. I threw all OTT channel creation in this category as well; probably could call this app creation on OTT. 

Turnkey services – Where you pay a fee and let a third party deliver for you. PrimeTime will support DASH; doesn’t yet, but does support HLS. I know there are other third party services out there, I just know PrimeTime so I’m listing them as an example. 


Click to open at full resolution in a separate browser window. Here’s a link to the actual spreadsheet in Google Docs. 

As producers, native support, or support through an OTS player, are the easiest mechanisms to distribute to a particular platform. This category represents the largest number of producers. Via technologies like the JW Player, you can simply, and without programming or significant cost, support HLS to desktop and iOS platforms with single file streaming to Android. It does not appear that there are similar players, or browser support, to enable this for DASH. 

If you have the bucks, you can implement DASH on most platforms, but browser support is sketchy. Feels like you can’t reach those watching on Firefox or Safari. Clearly, what Netflix and Hulu are doing with DASH on OTT platforms is very significant, and includes lots of eyeballs, but they really are the tippy top of the video distribution pyramid. 

So, my presentation is Tuesday. Would love some feedback ASAP to let me know what I’ve got right and what I’ve got wrong.





About Jan Ozer

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I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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