What is HTTP Streaming?
HTTP Streaming also known as HLS is a default protocol for streaming audio and/or video online developed by Apple Inc. and is used in QuickTime and iOS software. HTTP Streaming breaks up the video stream into a sequence of small HTTP-based files to be downloaded at different data rates. The client may select an appropriate data rate to keep the video stream flowing at an optimal performs adapting on the networks bandwidth and other factors at any given moment in time.
A m3u8 playlist also called a manifest downloads metadata defining what type of files and data rates are available.
HTTP Streaming is capable of traversing any firewall or proxy server that lets through standard HTTP traffic, unlike UDP-based protocols such as RTP. This also allows content to be delivered over widely available CDNs.
HTTP Streaming is also capable of DRM encryption and HTTPS secure key content protection as well as Closed Captioning for subtitles and Trick Play for fast forward and rewind capabilities.