What’s streaming: how to manage digital rights, live events, and money. Part 2

Pavlo Kalmykov, Product Architect at Pluto TV

März 11, 2024 Pluto TV, streaming, video streaming

Let’s pick up where we left off. After the streaming protocols review, it’s important to discuss factors that influence content delivery to users. Then we can get into monetization and live broadcasting.

Streaming latency

It’s the delay between the moment a camera captures something and the moment the footage is displayed to viewers. There are several types of streaming latencies: 

Latency type  Duration  Occurs in  Protocols 
Common HTTP latencies  >45-18 seconds  One-way streams of live events to large audiences, linear programming  Apple HLS 


Reduced latency  18-5 seconds  OTT providers, live streaming news, and sports  HLS Tuned 

DASH Tuned 


Low latency  5-1 seconds  UGC live streams, game streaming, and esports  Low-Latency HLS 

Low-Latency CMAF for DASH 

RTMP Tuned 



Near real-time  1-1> second  Two-way web conferencing, telepresence, real-time device control (e.g., PTZ cameras, drones)  WebRTC 


Of course, the lower the latency, the better. And while users aren’t surprised by a few seconds of delay with regular movies and TV shows, low latency is crucial in live streaming.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Moving to a critical part of sharing content online—digital rights management. For video content, there are usage rights. Content owners often have agreements with distributors about the requirements for protecting their material.  


When it comes to streaming, HTTP, for example, is not as secure as RTMP. As a result, protecting our content online requires some additional measures. So, what can we do about it?  


HTTPS User Session Protection is the standard on the web and is not specific to streaming. There’s also authorization, but it’s not directly related to streaming.  


Protecting the content itself is our answer in the case of video streaming. To do that, alongside transcoding content into specific protocols it can be encoded with a different encryptor.


With these standards, keys for decrypting the fragments are issued by special concierge services. The path to the keys is then indicated through the stream manifests. 


DRM step-by-step process

DRM step-by-step process



Now, a topic we can’t miss—money. How can you make some cash on video streaming?  


There are the common methods: subscriptions and video rentals or sales. However, these monetization techniques aren’t always that effective. They also make streaming resemble an online store. Something that’s truly about streaming is advertising.  


This is how you can make some good money here. And we’re talking about ads specific to the video, not just banners on sites. There are two types of video advertising: client-side and server-side ad insertion.  


In client-side insertion, there are a lot of implementations, and everything needs to be done in each client application. Not so interesting and takes quite a bit of work.  


Server-side inserted ads can run in standard players. This is just a single stream of content for the client’s side. Ads come from services that provide pay-per-view advertising, and it’s necessary to send an ad view response. This is done by including a set of links provided with the ads. The links must be triggered in a certain order in the process of viewing ads. This can also be done both on the client and the server.  


Server-side implementation is the best option. It’ll be possible to earn money simply while the stream link is opened in the browser. The ads are encoded and inserted into the video stream. In terms of event stream (basic broadcast channel), it is clear that there are no rewinds. But for video on demand (VOD), the client player needs to block rewinding them.


Here’s a visual comparison of the two ad insertion approaches. 


Client-side ad insertion

Server-side ad insertion

Live Events Broadcasting

We’ve covered the important parts of streaming in general. Now we can move to live events broadcasting. You’ll finally find out how footage from Dodger Stadium in LA reaches users worldwide 😉  


In short, the analog stream from the source goes to the transcoder service through the RTMP protocol. Then, the stream is transcoded into fragments for distribution to users. There can be millions of viewers, yet there’s no need for personal media stream servers for each of them. Instead, the content delivery network (CDN) will take care of the heavy lifting—caching and delivering media to the end users.  


Let’s look at live streaming in detail now. The digital video signal from the camera is delivered to the server using real-time media protocols. Later it’s processed by transcoders or cloud software—this is called first mile delivery. There are a few real-time media protocols. 


Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) is a network control protocol designed for entertainment and communications systems. RTSP manages media servers and establishes and controls media sessions between endpoints.


Media server clients issue commands like play, record, and pause. These commands help with real-time control of streaming from the server to a client (Video on Demand) or from a client to the server (Voice Recording).  


Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) is a network protocol for delivering audio and video over IP networks. RTP is used in telephony, teleconference applications (WebRTC based), television services, and web-based push-to-talk features. 


RTP is used together with the RTP Control Protocol (RTCP). While RTP carries the media streams, RTCP monitors transmission statistics and quality of service. This protocol also aids the synchronization of multiple streams.  


Delivering the media to the end user is called last mile delivery. And HTTP streaming protocols are usually used here. 


Live event broadcasting process

Live event broadcasting process


A selection of these optimal protocols is crucial for live broadcasting like sports matches. It allows streaming for a wide audience with minimum delay in video delivery to users.  

That’s all for today. I hope the two articles helped you understand the behind-the-scenes of streaming better. Now you actually have an idea of how live footage from Dodger Stadium reaches viewers and can be easily played even on a smartwatch.


Live streaming


Maybe after this, you’ll even decide to dip your toe into the exciting business of streaming! In any case, good luck and until next time.


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