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Adaptive Bitrate Streaming: Definition & Why You Need It

Have you ever experienced interruptions in your video playback while traveling to a remote countryside? It can be quite frustrating, whether you’re engrossed in a movie or needing to access educational content, and your video continually pauses due to slow internet. To prevent this situation, what’s required is groundbreaking streaming technologies. The technology should adaptively adjust video quality based on the viewer’s internet connection in real time to ensure seamless playback and an optimal viewer experience. This leads us to the topic for today – adaptive bitrate streaming. 

streamer broadcasting with mic and laptop

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming? 

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) is a video streaming technique that dynamically adjusts the quality of audio and video based on the viewer’s internet connection. It uses an algorithm to continuously monitor bandwidth availability, allowing for smooth playback without buffering or interruptions. 

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) optimizes video quality in real-time according to your internet speed, ensuring uninterrupted playback regardless of connection strength. 

By analyzing available bandwidth in real-time, ABR algorithms automatically switch between different bitrates and resolutions to ensure an optimal viewing experience. This means that viewers with slower connections can still enjoy content without experiencing lag or pixelation, while those with high-speed internet benefit from higher-quality streams. 

ABR vs. MBR: What’s the Difference? 

ABR is a video streaming technique that dynamically adjusts the quality of audio and video based on the viewer’s internet connection. MBR (Multi-bitrate), on the other hand, involves encoding a video into multiple bitrate versions in advance. Each version is then streamed to viewers based on their internet connection. Viewers can manually select the desired bitrate, but it does not dynamically adjust according to their connection speed. 

family watching laptop

How Does Adaptive Bitrate Streaming Work? 

Imagine you’re watching a movie online using a smart video player. Firstly, the movie you want to watch is prepared in many versions, with each version having a different size and quality. Imagine these versions are like different size slices of a pie, from small to large. When you start watching, this smart player checks how fast your internet is – seeing how quickly it can eat a slice of the pie. It then chooses a properly sized slice, or version, of the movie that your internet can handle without choking. If your internet speed changes, the player changes the slice size accordingly; larger for faster internet, smaller for slower. 

In other words, adaptive bitrate streaming utilizes an ABR algorithm to dynamically adjust the quality of a video stream based on available bandwidth. The process begins with encoding the original video into multiple versions at different bitrates and resolutions. These encoded versions are then segmented into smaller chunks which are served to player devices. Player devices continuously monitor network conditions and select the appropriate bitrate for optimal playback, ensuring smooth streaming regardless of varying bandwidth. 

Impact of Encoding Option 

Different encoding options can impact the quality of adaptive bitrate streaming. Factors such as compression algorithms, audio settings, and resolution choices all play a role in determining the overall viewing experience. Selecting suitable encoding parameters is essential for maintaining visual integrity while minimizing file size and delivering efficient bandwidth usage. 

Intelligent Bitrate Selection 

Video player devices rely on sophisticated algorithms to select the appropriate bitrate during playback. By constantly monitoring available bandwidth, these algorithms ensure seamless viewing by dynamically switching between different quality levels without interruptions or buffering issues. This intelligent decision-making process allows users to enjoy uninterrupted streaming experiences even when faced with fluctuating network conditions 

a woman, a man, a child watching laptop together

Why Adaptive Bitrate Streaming is Essential for Companies 

Improved User Experience 

Adaptive bitrate streaming allows users to enjoy videos smoothly across varying network conditions, without disruptions or buffering. This technology reduces video loading times, enabling faster access to content. Additionally, it provides a seamless transition between quality levels, ensuring an optimal viewing experience. 

Better Viewer Engagement and Retention 

Adaptive bitrate streaming enhances viewer satisfaction by adjusting video quality based on individual internet connections, eliminating buffering and ensuring smooth playback. This leads to more watching time, fewer instances of viewer drop-offs due to performance issues, and longer viewer engagement times. These improvements result in lower bounce rates, higher conversion rates, and better retention metrics for businesses. 

Cost Optimization and Scalability 

Optimized bandwidth usage by adjusting video quality on-the-fly, reducing storage costs through adaptive streaming techniques as it eliminates the need for storing multiple versions of videos at different resolutions. This ensures a seamless viewing experience while minimizing resource utilization.  

Compatibility with Various Devices and Networks 

Support for multiple devices is essential in today’s digital landscape. Adaptive bitrate streaming solution ensures compatibility with desktops, mobile devices, and smart TVs. No matter what device your audience uses, they can seamlessly access your video content. 

a woman and a man watching a laptop on the sofa

How to Implement Adaptive Bitrate Streaming 

Choosing a Reliable Adaptive Bitrate Streaming Solution 

When evaluating different adaptive bitrate streaming providers, consider performance, scalability, and reliability factors. Look for solutions that offer robust infrastructure and advanced algorithms to optimize video delivery in real-time at scale.  

For instance, Dailymotion, as a leading end-to-end video solution provider, excels in these areas. Our innovative products integrate advanced video player technology with ABR methods, providing reliable solutions for hosting, delivery, encoding and beyond. Dailymotion is designed to handle increasing traffic demands without compromising on quality or experiencing downtime. With our reliable solution, you can provide uninterrupted video playback even during peak usage periods, ensuring a consistent and superior viewing experience for your audience. 

Encoding and Transcoding Considerations 

Choose the right encoding settings for optimal video playback and seamless quality transitions. It’s crucial to tweak settings for different devices and bandwidths to suit various user needs and tech limits. Adjusting parameters like resolution, frame rate, and compression algorithms helps balance file size and visual quality. This reduces buffering problems due to network constraints and improves compatibility across devices. 

Transcoding allows you to convert your source video into different formats and bitrates, catering to users with diverse bandwidth capabilities. This ensures that viewers receive an optimal version of the video based on their internet connection. 

Integrating Adaptive Bitrate Streaming into Your Existing Infrastructure 

Assessing compatibility with your current video infrastructure is the first step in integrating adaptive bitrate streaming. Evaluate your existing servers, codecs, and delivery protocols to ensure they can support the necessary changes.  

Implementing server-side modifications is crucial for seamless integration. Update your media server software and configure it to handle adaptive streaming formats effectively. Additionally, optimizing caching mechanisms and content delivery networks will enhance performance and provide a smoother playback experience. Regularly analyze network conditions, user device capabilities, and player behavior to make any necessary adjustments for optimal playback quality. 

If the task seems overwhelming, consider using Dailymotion. We offer an all-inclusive video solution that not only features adaptive bitrate streaming, but also provides a white label, feature-rich player that’s easy to integrate. You’ll experience smooth integration with your existing infrastructure, devoid of any tech-related issues, thanks to the support from our professional services team, and our robust APIs and SDKs. 

a girl watching laptop with a yellow hood

ABR and Protocols: Best Pairs 

When it comes to implementing ABR, there are several protocols to choose from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at some popular protocols and how they pair with ABR: 

1. HTTP Live Streaming (HLS): HLS is widely supported and is the go-to protocol for iOS devices. It segments video into small chunks and allows for adaptive streaming by dynamically switching between different quality levels. It is easy to implement and offers good performance, making it a popular choice for ABR. 

2. Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH): DASH is an industry-standard protocol that works across different platforms and devices. It uses standard HTTP protocols and provides flexibility in terms of codecs and content delivery networks (CDNs). DASH can be a good choice if you need cross-platform compatibility and flexibility in your streaming solution. 

3. Smooth Streaming: Developed by Microsoft, Smooth Streaming is optimized for Windows-based devices and Silverlight players. It uses adaptive streaming to adjust the video quality based on network conditions. Smooth Streaming can be a good option if your target audience primarily uses Windows devices. 

4. MPEG-DASH: MPEG-DASH is an ISO standard for adaptive streaming. It is similar to DASH but uses MPEG codecs instead of standard HTTP protocols. MPEG-DASH offers support for a wide range of codecs and provides flexibility in terms of content delivery networks (CDNs). It is a versatile protocol that can be a good choice for ABR, especially if you need support for multiple codecs. 

5. WebRTC: WebRTC is a real-time communication protocol that enables high-quality video streaming directly in web browsers without the need for plugins or additional software. It offers low latency and high security, making it a great choice for real-time applications like video conferencing or live streaming. 

Best Practices for Adaptive Bitrate Streaming 

Analyzing and Monitoring Streaming Performance 

  • Continuously analyze the video output in real-time to identify and address any issues that may affect the viewer’s perception of quality. 
  • Track buffer fill rate for proactive management of streaming performance. 
  • Measure playback start time to get valuable insights into user experience to optimize streaming infrastructure to minimize any delays and improve overall customer satisfaction. 

Optimizing Streaming Parameters for Different Use Cases 

  • Adjust the bitrate ladder based on network conditions to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted streaming experience. 
  • Customize encoding settings for specific devices to guarantee optimal playback performance across different platforms from smartphones to smart TVs. 
  • Implement content-aware encoding techniques to maximize video quality while minimizing file size. By analyzing the content itself, unnecessary data can be eliminated or compressed, resulting in faster loading times and reduced bandwidth usage.  

Regularly Updating and Testing Streaming Configurations 

  • Keep up with latest industry standards and codecs to stay ahead of the curve and deliver high-quality content 
  • Perform A/B testing to evaluate different streaming options, ensuring that you choose the most optimal configuration for your needs 
  • Conduct periodic load testing to ensure scalability, so that your system can handle increasing viewership without any performance issues. 


Adaptive bitrate streaming is the key to delivering high-quality video content in today’s digital landscape. Its ability to adjust video quality based on network conditions ensures a seamless viewing experience for users across various devices and internet speeds. By implementing adaptive bitrate streaming, companies can stay ahead of the curve and provide their audiences with an all-inclusive video solution that enhances engagement and drives business growth.  

If you still find implementation of adaptive bitrate streaming challenging and require further consultation, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! We do our best to provide a comprehensive solution to resolve any challenges you might have with video. Let’s talk to leverage this cutting-edge technology in your industry, whether it be retail, e-commerce, education, or broadcasting – adapt and thrive!  


Should I use adaptive bitrate? 

Yes, you should definitely use adaptive bitrate streaming technology. It ensures optimal video quality for viewers across industries like publishing and e-learning, regardless of their internet connection speeds, leading to improved user experiences and client satisfaction. 

What is an example of adaptive bitrate streaming? 

An example of adaptive bitrate streaming can be seen when users watch videos on popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. The system automatically adjusts video quality based on viewers’ internet speeds, switching between different bitrates for smooth and uninterrupted playback. 

What is adaptive bitrate streaming for audio? 

Adaptive bitrate streaming for audio is similar to its video counterpart but applied to audio content. It dynamically alters audio quality based on the listener’s internet speed, ensuring a seamless listening experience for clients who prioritize audio content delivery, like podcasts and music streaming. 

What is the difference between adaptive bitrate and multi bitrate? 

Adaptive bitrate and multi-bitrate are distinct concepts. Adaptive bitrate adjusts the quality of a single video or audio stream in real-time based on the viewer’s connection speed. In contrast, multi-bitrate involves encoding and delivering the same content at multiple fixed quality levels (bitrates) simultaneously, allowing viewers to manually select their preferred quality.