Six Benefits of P2P Unicast Streaming

June 16, 2016 by

P2P streaming workflow image and blog post title

These days, video content distribution on the Internet supports an ever-changing variety of delivery architectures. When IP multicast was developed more than 20 years ago, it seemed to be the silver bullet for one-to-many or many-to-many content-distribution applications. However, relatively few commercial multicast applications are in use now. On the other hand, the increasing prevalence of peer-to-peer (P2P) unicast video technology such as Viblast, Peer5, Streamroot, Hive Streaming, and Octoshape reinforces the real-world benefits of fully distributed P2P video delivery. 

If P2P streaming technology can deliver what it promises, it will help relieve network bottlenecks, manage traffic spikes (even with millions of concurrent users), improve the overall user experience by reducing bandwidth, improve stream start-up times, and allow us to deliver higher video quality (whether that means resolution, bitrate, or both).

Here's a look at six major benefits of P2P unicast streaming:

  • Bandwidth reduction: The greatest benefit P2P unicast technologies offer is a significant reduction in bandwidth usage—we're talking anywhere from ~40% to more than 90% savings, judging by results from Streamroot and Peer5.
  • No single point of failure: P2P solutions offer a decentralized workflow that adds a new level of redundancy. When a connection between the client and a peer fails, the content is still accessible across multiple peers, the edge server, or the CDN.
  • Playback intelligence: Many P2P technologies offer features such as intelligent buffering to request data from peers first and then fall back to the CDN if peers are not available. This creates a transparent user experience that makes many of the solutions easy to deploy and insert into existing streaming infrastructures.
  • Advanced video analytics: P2P technologies can track viewer behavior, network statistics, and quality parameters that are essential to the success of streaming solution.
  • Built-in encryption with WebRTC: Many P2P technologies use a WebRTC data channel to enable capabilities via raw data transmissions directly between peers. The communication is encrypted by default, can work over TCP or UDP, and can handle NAT and firewall transversal.
  • No third-party plug-ins: The evolution of WebRTC has changed the game, making plug-in-free P2P solutions a reality.


P2P streaming is here to stay, especially as WebRTC continues to gain widespread adoption across devices and browsers. It seems well suited to companies that deliver streaming media primarily on the public Internet, as it offers the most significant way to reduce streaming costs. These include broadcasters, OTT providers, online video platforms (OVPs), CDNs, among others. Additionally, companies looking to stream within their private networks may turn to P2P unicast as a viable alternative to multicast. 


Want to know more?

  • For much more detail on peer-to-peer streaming, including security, the P2P streaming workflow, and unicast and multicast challenges, check out our peer-to-peer unicast streaming guide.
  • Visit the Wowza WebRTC streaming page to learn how our streaming technology works with WebRTC for low-latency and optimized two-way communication, not just P2P streaming.