Learning Center - What is adaptive bitrate streaming?

Adaptive bitrate streaming adjusts video quality based on network conditions to improve video streaming over HTTP networks. This process makes playback as smooth as possible for viewers regardless of their device, location, or Internet speed. The term “bitrate” refers to how quickly data travels across a network and is often used to describe an Internet connection’s speed. A high-speed connection is a high-bitrate connection. Streaming — or the process that makes watching videos online possible — consists of transmitting video files hosted in a remote server to a client. In streaming, videos are segmented into smaller clips so viewers do not need to wait for an entire video to load before they can begin watching it.

First, multiple versions of video files are created and encoded to fit a variety of network conditions. Then, based on factors like bandwidth and device type, the video player selects the highest-quality file that the device can play with the smallest amount of buffering possible. This allows playback to be as smooth as possible for end users around the world, regardless of their device or Internet speed. Learn more in the Cloudflare Learning Center.

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