RTMP for Live Video: What is it and how do I set it up?

Dec 10, 2018 12:57:17 PM

Whether you're an active livestreamer or just learning about livestreaming, you may have seen the term RTMP and not known exactly what it means. Don't let the acronym intimidate you — RTMP is easy to set up. 

Before we set up an RTMP stream, however, we need to understand what RTMP actually is, what it connects with, and how it works.

Components of an RTMP stream

There are three main components involved in setting up a stream with RTMP. To understand RTMP, you must familiarize yourself with all three:

  1. The streaming software or encoder: This is the tool or platform you use to create a live video. Switcher Studio is an example of streaming software.
  2. The content delivery network (CDN): This distributes your live video globally so viewers may watch the video with as little latency (delay) and buffering as possible. YouTube and Facebook are examples of CDNs.
  3. The RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) values: RTMP is the “handshake” between the streaming software and the CDN. This handshake is the connection that allows the streaming software to send the video to the CDN.

Locating RTMP values

For the handshake to take place, we need to find the RTMP values from your CDN and plug them into the streaming software.

Take Facebook as an example CDN. Facebook gives you the option to use software or an encoder rather than your webcam when you're creating a live video. You'll see this screen when you click Connect (as in, connect third-party software) after beginning to set up a Facebook Live video on your computer:

Using streaming software with Facebook

The Server URL and Stream Key near the bottom of the screen are our RTMP values.

Getting your server URL and stream key from Facebook Live

Simply copy and paste those into your streaming software, and the handshake will be set up, connecting your software to your CDN.

In the case of Switcher Studio, you'll paste the RTMP values you copied into the Server URL and Stream key/ID fields of a new channel setup form on the Custom RTMP page of the Dashboard.

Inputting your server URL and stream key/ID into Switcher Studio for live video with RTMP

Of course, different CDNs and different streaming software/encoder tools will all have slightly places for you to locate or input the RTMP values, so be sure to read the instructions for whichever platforms you use.


To learn more about livestreaming how-tos and strategy, subscribe to the Switcher Studio blog, and follow us on Facebook to see our own weekly live show, #StreamSquad.

Dan Petrik

Written by Dan Petrik

Switcher Studio Customer Success Manager and Co-Founder