Whether you're an experienced livestreamer or just getting into the livestreaming game, you may have encountered the term RTMP and been confused. So, what is RTMP?

RTMP stands for "Real-Time Messaging Protocol," and it’s a key term for livestreaming. 


Thankfully, understanding how RTMP works is less complicated than the acronym might suggest. In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of RTMP streaming, its benefits, and how you can leverage Switcher Studio's RTMP capabilities to help your live video productions reach an even bigger audience.


What is RTMP streaming?

Let’s start with an overview of what RTMP streaming is and how it works. RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) is one of the key protocols that powers live video broadcasting. RTMP delivers video content from an encoder to a video hosting service.

It’s a widely-used protocol supporting low latency and adaptive streaming, i.e., video quality that adjusts based on the viewer's internet connection. In other words, RTMP helps ensure your audience has a seamless and uninterrupted stream. 


How does RTMP streaming work?

RTMP streaming in a few steps: Your live video needs to be captured, encoded, transmitted, and finally, delivered to your audience. Let’s go over each component of an RTMP stream:

  • First, your camera captures your live video.

  • Next, your video is encoded. The encoder ensures that your livestream video can be distributed by taking the raw data from your camera and converting it into a digital video format. Livestream encoders can be hardware or software, desktop or mobile (Switcher Studio is an example of a mobile livestreaming encoder).

  • Once the data is encoded, it’s transmitted to an RTMP server.

  • The server then relays the data to a video hosting service (like YouTube or Facebook), which distributes your live video globally.

  • Finally, your viewers can watch your livestream on their devices by accessing the video hosting service where your stream was successfully delivered.


What are the benefits of RTMP streaming?

As we’ve mentioned, RTMP streaming can offer a high-quality and low-latency experience for viewers.

However, it isn’t always necessary to use RTMP for livestreaming. Many livestreamers achieve the same results by streaming directly to a video hosting platform or by using streaming software like Switcher Studio, which offers direct integrations and eliminates the need for RTMP in many cases.



However, there are a number of reasons why you might choose to use RTMP for livestreaming, even when using streaming software like Switcher.

Here are a few reasons why our users choose RTMP streaming:

  • Streaming to a platform without a direct integration

Switcher offers direct integrations with the biggest video hosting platforms out there: Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft Stream, and more. You can even use Switcher to stream directly to a webpage via our embeddable Switcher video player.

However, if you’re streaming to a platform without a direct Switcher integration, such as SubSplash or Kick, using RTMP can facilitate that livestream.

  • Streaming to a Facebook Event

Unlike when you stream to a Facebook page or profile, streaming to a Facebook Event with Switcher requires RTMP. This is because for Facebook Events, the stream setup must happen on Facebook. Thankfully, as we’ll explain shortly, it’s easy to use RTMP to connect Switcher to a Facebook Event.

  • Controlling and customizing stream settings

Some people use RTMP streaming to more precisely control and customize their stream settings. In addition to the video format, (e.g., 720p), RTMP also grants users the ability to adjust the audio format, as well as the video and audio bitrate. For some users, this may streamline their creation workflow, because they can select saved RTMP settings.


How to use RTMP with Switcher Studio

As we mentioned, Switcher Studio seamlessly integrates with most of the top streaming destinations today. (We also have built-in Multistreaming functionality, allowing users to stream to more than one destination simultaneously!)

However, if you just need to use Switcher Studio for RTMP streaming, it’s quite simple:RTMP Setup- facebook ipad

When configuring and setting up a livestream on almost any streaming platform, you’ll have the opportunity to generate RTMP values, including a Stream Key and Stream URL or Server URL.

Once you’ve generated these values, create a new Custom RTMP channel on your Switcher Studio Dashboard.

Then, it’s just a matter of plugging your RTMP values into the corresponding fields on your new channel setup. In this way, RTMP acts as a handshake between Switcher and your destination.RTMP Setup- Zoom dashboard

Of course, every different destination (and every different streaming software, for that matter) will have a different place to locate or input RTMP values. Make sure to read instructions for whichever platforms you use, and check out our Help Center articles for detailed walkthroughs on using Switcher for RTMP streaming.


What are the problems with RTMP?

Depending on your needs and experience, there are plenty of reasons why you might choose to use RTMP streaming. However, RTMP has many of the same disadvantages as other methods of livestreaming.

If you have limited bandwidth, an unreliable internet connection, or an unstable network, an RTMP stream can be spotty and poor quality. 

Additionally, you could face issues with compatibility on different platforms or devices. Without experience in livestreaming, setting up RTMP values could be a challenge. New livestreamers may find it easier to begin streaming directly to their destination of choice or by learning a user-friendly streaming software with direct integrations.


Get started with custom RTMP

Real-Time Messaging Protocol is an important asset in your toolbox for livestreaming production. It’s a versatile, powerful protocol that enables high-quality and highly customizable livestreams. Plus, with Switcher Studio's powerful integrations and custom RTMP tools, it’s simple to get started creating incredible livestreams. 

Ready to take Switcher’s RTMP tools for a spin? Try Switcher Studio free for 14 days.

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