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What is Low Latency Video Streaming?

What is Low Latency Video Streaming?

Understanding low-latency video streaming is crucial in today’s digital era, where real-time interaction and seamless video playback are not just desired but expected. This technology enables instant video transmission over the internet, reducing delays to a minimum and ensuring that live streaming experiences are as close to real-time as possible. Whether it’s for gaming, live events, or video conferencing, low-latency streaming plays a pivotal role in delivering content efficiently and without frustrating lags, making it a key component in modern digital communication.

What is Low Latency Video Streaming?

It refers to the practice of reducing the time delay between the video content recording time and when you, as a viewer, see it. Simply put, it takes a video stream to travel from the source to the end viewer. The lower the time is, the lower the latency, which in turn ensures, the more real-time the video experience becomes.

Latency is an essential factor in video streaming, especially in applications requiring real-time interaction, such as live streaming or gaming. High latency causes delays between the user’s actions and what viewers see, making the experience feel sluggish or out of sync. Low latency video streaming is usually achieved through a combination of factors, like specialized encoding techniques, faster internet connections, and optimized network infrastructure.

Why Do We Need Low-latency Streaming?

Low-latency streaming is essential for several reasons, particularly in applications and services where real-time interaction and immediate feedback are critical. Here are some of the key reasons why low-latency streaming is necessary:

1. Enhanced User Experience

Low-latency streaming significantly improves the user experience by minimizing delays between the broadcaster and the viewer. This is crucial for maintaining engagement and satisfaction, especially in live events where viewers value the feeling of being part of the action in real-time.

2. Real-time Interaction

For applications like video conferencing, online gaming, and live auctions, real-time interaction is paramount. Low-latency streaming ensures that communication and actions are synchronized among participants, fostering a more natural and effective interaction.

3. Competitive Advantage

In sectors like financial trading or eSports, where milliseconds can make a significant difference, low-latency streaming provides a competitive edge. It enables faster decision-making and reaction to live events, which can be critical for success.

4. Improved Quality of Service

Reducing latency contributes to a smoother, buffer-free streaming experience, which is vital for retaining viewers and subscribers. High latency can lead to interruptions, buffering, and a frustrating viewing experience, leading users to seek better alternatives.

5. Enabling New Technologies and Applications

Low-latency streaming is a key enabler for emerging technologies and applications, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), where delays can disrupt the immersive experience. It also plays a crucial role in the development of remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, and other applications requiring real-time data transmission.

6. Compliance with Industry Standards

As the demand for live streaming grows, so do the expectations for quality and speed. Low-latency streaming helps content providers comply with industry standards and meet or exceed viewer expectations for live content delivery.

Who Needs Low Latency Video Streaming?

Low latency video streaming is indispensable across various sectors where real-time interaction and swift response are critical. Live sports broadcasters and online gaming platforms stand out as primary beneficiaries. In these fields, even minimal delays can significantly impact the viewer’s experience and engagement levels. The immediacy provided by low latency streaming ensures that fans and gamers receive data and visuals in real-time, closely mirroring a live, in-person experience.

Similarly, financial institutions and traders rely heavily on low latency streaming for the real-time analysis and execution of trades. In the high-stakes world of financial trading, milliseconds can represent the difference between substantial gains and losses. Healthcare is another sector that benefits greatly from low latency streaming, particularly in telemedicine and remote surgeries, where immediate feedback is crucial for patient care and surgical precision.

Educational institutions and corporate training programs also leverage low latency video streaming to facilitate interactive learning experiences. This technology allows for a more engaging and dynamic educational environment, where students and participants can interact with instructors in real time. Security and surveillance systems utilize low latency streaming to monitor and respond to incidents promptly, ensuring safety and timely intervention. Across these diverse applications, low latency streaming is a key component that enhances user experience, operational efficiency, and outcomes.

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Impact of High Latency

High latency can have a significant impact on the performance of online activities, particularly those that require real-time interaction, such as online gaming, video conferencing, and live streaming. When latency is high, there is a delay between when a user inputs a command and when the server responds. This delay can cause lag, choppy video, and poor audio quality, which can make it difficult or impossible to effectively participate in these activities.

Additionally, high latency can lead to frustration, as users may feel like they are not in control of their actions or are not receiving timely feedback. Overall, high latency can be a major hindrance to the usability and effectiveness of online applications.

What is an Acceptable Latency for Streaming?

Understanding what constitutes acceptable latency in low latency video streaming is crucial for delivering a seamless viewing experience. Latency, the delay between a video’s capture and its playback on a viewer’s screen, is a key performance metric in streaming technology.

For most streaming applications, a latency of 10-30 seconds is considered standard. However, with advancements in low latency video streaming, this benchmark has been significantly reduced. In scenarios like live sports, online gaming, or interactive broadcasts, where real-time interaction is essential, an acceptable latency can be as low as 1-5 seconds.

The push for lower latency stems from the need to synchronize live events with virtual interactions, reducing the gap between real-time and broadcast time. This is particularly important in applications like live auctions or online betting, where even a few seconds of delay can impact the user experience.

However, achieving ultra-low latency is a balancing act. Reducing latency too much can compromise video quality and increase the likelihood of buffering. Thus, the acceptable level of latency often depends on the specific requirements of the streaming content and the tolerance of its audience.

Comparison: Standard, Low, and Ultra-low Latency

Understanding the nuances of latency, especially in the context of video streaming, is crucial for delivering content that meets the expectations and needs of different audiences and applications. Latency refers to the delay between the capture of video content and its display to the viewer. It plays a significant role in how interactive and “live” a streaming experience feels. The categorization of latency into standard, low, and ultra-low tiers helps in aligning technology choices with specific use cases.

Standard Latency

Standard latency is typical of many traditional streaming services, where a delay of several seconds up to a minute is acceptable and often goes unnoticed by the audience. This level of latency is common in scenarios where real-time interaction between the content provider and the audience is not critical, such as in video-on-demand services or standard live broadcasts like news or TV shows. The advantage of standard latency lies in its buffering capabilities, which can ensure smoother playback and higher video quality by compensating for network variability.

Low Latency

Low latency streaming significantly reduces the delay, typically to just a few seconds, making it suitable for more interactive applications than standard latency can support. This category is particularly relevant for live sports events, live auctions, or any live streaming content where audience engagement through chat or reactions is valued. Low latency strikes a balance between minimizing delay and maintaining a good quality of experience, allowing for interactions that feel more immediate and engaging without sacrificing video quality.

Ultra-Low Latency

Ultra-low latency streaming pushes the boundaries further by reducing the delay to near real-time, often less than one second. This level of immediacy is crucial for applications where any perceptible delay between broadcasters and viewers can diminish the experience or effectiveness of the service. Examples include financial trading floors, online gaming, especially interactive and competitive gaming, and certain types of live events where real-time participation from viewers is integral to the content itself, such as betting, gaming, or interactive shows.

Each latency category serves different needs and comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Standard latency is well-suited for most traditional broadcast content, offering a reliable and high-quality viewing experience. Low latency enhances viewer engagement for live events, while ultra-low latency is essential for applications requiring real-time interaction and feedback. Choosing the right latency level depends on balancing the need for immediacy against factors like network conditions, scalability, and video quality requirements.

How to Choose a Good Low-Latency Streaming Service?

When selecting a good low-latency live streaming service, you should carefully examine many things. These range from latency to security and tech support. To make it easier for you, we have explained some of these points below:

  • Cost: While there is no reason not to get the best possible low-latency streaming service, you should carefully consider how much it will cost. It is not a good idea to go for an expensive service whose features are useless for you. Thus, look for a streaming service that balances your needs and budget perfectly.
  • Latency: As evident from the name, the latency offered by the low-latency streaming services should be as low as possible. The ideal is less than 3 seconds as it ensures that viewers can see everything in real-time.
  • Reliability: A good streaming service should be able to handle high traffic without buffering or downtime, as these issues can significantly impact the viewer experience. That’s why look for a low-latency streaming service that can handle a sizeable number of concurrent viewers.
  • Quality: After latency, quality is probably the most important aspect of any live video streaming service. Your chosen streaming service should be able to support ultra-high-quality video streaming for hours. Moreover, the high quality of the video shouldn’t come at the cost of latency.
  • Customization: Whether you can customize the low-latency live streaming service to your brand is also important. That’s why you should look for a service that offers flexibility and a wide range of customization options to ensure it perfectly integrates with your app and brand.
  • Support: It is foolish to think that you will be able to integrate the low-latency streaming service into your app without facing any issues. Thus, choosing a service that provides robust tech support to solve any arising issues is essential. Moreover, the service should come with detailed documentation and video tutorials.

What Causes Low Latency In Video Streaming?

Low Latency Video Streaming is the gold standard for broadcasters aiming to deliver real-time experiences to their audience. But what factors contribute to achieving this seamless streaming?

  1. Efficient Encoding and Decoding: The speed at which video data is encoded at the source and decoded at the destination plays a pivotal role. Modern codecs, like H.265, are designed to optimize this process, ensuring faster transmission.
  2. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): Leveraging a robust CDN ensures that video data is routed through the most efficient path, reducing the time it takes to reach the end-user.
  3. Optimized Network Protocols: Protocols like WebRTC or SRT are designed specifically for low latency video streaming, ensuring minimal delay in data transmission.
  4. Server and Infrastructure: High-performance servers and a well-architected infrastructure can process and forward data packets more swiftly.
  5. Adaptive Bitrate Streaming: This adjusts the video quality in real-time based on the viewer’s internet speed, ensuring continuous playback with minimal buffering.

In essence, low latency video streaming is achieved through a combination of advanced technology and optimized network infrastructure. As the demand for real-time content grows, the pursuit of even lower latency continues to drive innovation in the streaming industry.

Top 5 Low Latency Video Streaming Services & Solutions

There are many low-latency video streaming solutions available online. It means choosing a reliable and ultra-low latency video streaming solution can be challenging for you. That’s why we have selected the 5 best low-latency video streaming solutions for you and explained them below:


With an ultra-low latency of less than 600ms, ZEGOCLOUD Live Streaming API & SDK is the best choice for a low-level latency video streaming solution. With it, you can integrate live video and audio streaming into your app. It offers features like ultra-low latency, multi-channel streaming, and cloud recording.

Moreover, it supports high video quality of up to 4K during a live stream with support for more than 10 million concurrent viewers on a single stream. As for security, it supports highly advanced end-to-end encryption algorithms.

Key Features

  • ZEGOCLOUD Live Streaming API & SDK is best for social streaming, live events, live shopping, live gaming, live fitness, and live classes.
  • It has an average latency of less than 1 second.
  • The pricing for ZEGOCLOUD Live Streaming API & SDK starts from USD 3.99/1000 participant minutes for video HD to USD 35.99/1000 participant minutes for video 4K.

2. Dolby Real-Time Streaming API low latency video streaming

A product of, the Dolby real-time streaming API is another great choice for a low-latency video streaming solution. It provides ultra-low latency of up to 500ms, ensuring viewers and streamers are on the same frame during streaming. This API can also stream high-quality videos of up to 4K resolution with the latest and optimized codecs.

Key Features

  • This API can automatically detect and filter out background noise, such as traffic or other conversations.
  • Dolby Real-Time Streaming API also offers less than 1-second latency for live video streaming.
  • Its prices start from USD 495 per month and go up to USD 4995 per month.

3. Red5 Pro

low latency streaming - red5 pro

Red5 Pro is a real-time video streaming platform that allows you to live stream at ultra-low latency. It also includes many other features like adaptive bitrate, which ensures that video quality is automatically adjusted to suit the viewer’s internet connection. It results in a smooth streaming experience for the end-users. Moreover, it lets users access real-time analytics, enabling them to monitor and optimize the performance of their video streams.

Key Features

  • This solution includes a cross-platform embeddable player, ensuring a seamless experience overall across browsers and devices.
  • It offers a latency of less than 1 second for real-time video streaming.
  • Red5 Pro prices start from USD 29.99 per month for developers to USD 3399.00 per month for enterprises.

4. DACast

 low latency video - dacast

DACast is another low-latency live streaming platform that allows users to stream live and on-demand video content. With DACast, users can stream live events to audiences worldwide, whether it’s a sports game, music concert, or business conference. The platform supports adaptive bitrate streaming, which ensures that viewers can watch the stream in the best possible quality based on their internet connection.

Key Features

  • DACast provides monetization tools that enable users to generate revenue from their video content.
  • The average latency of DACast is 10 seconds.
  • Its pricing plans start from USD 39 per month, which is billed annually.

5. Ant Media Server

low latency live streaming - ant media

It is a widely popular low-latency streaming solution used to stream live and on-demand video content over the internet. This service supports various video streaming protocols such as WebRTC, RTMP, HLS, and MPEG-DASH. Some popular features of Ant Media Server include low latency streaming, adaptive bitrate streaming, and real-time analytics.

Key Features

  • Ant Media Server provides a REST API and web-based management console for easy server configuration and monitoring.
  • When using this service, you get a latency of up to 500ms.
  • Its pricing plan starts from USD 99 per instance per month and goes up to USD 2499 per instance for a perpetual license.


We can say that low-latency video streaming solutions have become essential to the digital landscape. Nowadays, businesses must have a reliable and efficient platform that can provide seamless video streaming with minimal latency. After researching and analyzing many live streaming solutions, we recommend ZEGOCLOUD Live Streaming API & SDK. It offers advanced video streaming features and high-quality video streaming at low latency.

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