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Cloudflare Stream Low-Latency HLS support now in Open Beta


4 min read
Cloudflare Stream Low-Latency HLS support now in Open Beta

Stream Live lets users easily scale their live-streaming apps and websites to millions of creators and concurrent viewers while focusing on the content rather than the infrastructure — Stream manages codecs, protocols, and bit rate automatically.

For Speed Week this year, we introduced a closed beta of Low-Latency HTTP Live Streaming (LL-HLS), which builds upon the high-quality, feature-rich HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol. Lower latency brings creators even closer to their viewers, empowering customers to build more interactive features like chat and enabling the use of live-streaming in more time-sensitive applications like live e-learning, sports, gaming, and events.

Today, in celebration of Birthday Week, we’re opening this beta to all customers with even lower latency. With LL-HLS, you can deliver video to your audience faster, reducing the latency a viewer may experience on their player to as little as three seconds. Low Latency streaming is priced the same way, too: $1 per 1,000 minutes delivered, with zero extra charges for encoding or bandwidth.

Broadcast with latency as low as three seconds.

LL-HLS is an extension of the HLS standard that allows us to reduce glass-to-glass latency — the time between something happening on the broadcast end and a user seeing it on their screen. That includes factors like network conditions and transcoding for HLS and adaptive bitrates. We also include client-side buffering in our understanding of latency because we know the experience is driven by what a user sees, not when a byte is delivered into a buffer. Depending on encoder and player settings, broadcasters' content can be playing on viewers' screens in less than three seconds.

On the left, OBS Studio broadcasting from my personal computer to Cloudflare Stream. On the right, watching this livestream using our own built-in player playing LL-HLS with three second latency!

Same pricing, lower latency. Encoding is always free.

Our addition of LL-HLS support builds on all the best parts of Stream including simple, predictable pricing. You never have to pay for ingress (broadcasting to us), compute (encoding), or egress. This allows you to stream with peace of mind, knowing there are no surprise fees and no need to trade quality for cost. Regardless of bitrate or resolution, Stream costs \$1 per 1,000 minutes of video delivered and \$5 per 1,000 minutes of video stored, billed monthly.

Stream also provides both a built-in web player or HLS/DASH manifests to use in a compatible player of your choosing. This enables you or your users to go live using the same protocols and tools that broadcasters big and small use to go live to YouTube or Twitch, but gives you full control over access and presentation of live streams. We also provide access control with signed URLs and hotlinking prevention measures to protect your content.

Powered by the strength of the network

And of course, Stream is powered by Cloudflare's global network for fast delivery worldwide, with points of presence within 50ms of 95% of the Internet connected population, a key factor in our quest to slash latency. We ingest live video close to broadcasters and move it rapidly through Cloudflare’s network. We run encoders on-demand and generate player manifests as close to viewers as possible.

Getting started with LL-HLS

Getting started with Stream Live only takes a few minutes, and by using Live Outputs for restreaming, you can even test it without changing your existing infrastructure. First, create or update a Live Input in the Cloudflare dashboard. While in beta, Live Inputs will have an option to enable LL-HLS called “Low-Latency HLS Support.” Activate this toggle to enable the new pipeline.

Stream will automatically provide the RTMPS and SRT endpoints to broadcast your feed to us, just as before. For the best results, we recommend the following broadcast settings:

  • Codec: h264
  • GOP size / keyframe interval: 1 second

Optionally, configure a Live Output to point to your existing video ingest endpoint via RTMPS or SRT to test Stream while rebroadcasting to an existing workflow or infrastructure.

Stream will automatically provide RTMPS and SRT endpoints to broadcast your feed to us as well as an HTML embed for our built-in player.

This connection information can be added easily to a broadcast application like OBS to start streaming immediately:

During the beta, our built-in player will automatically attempt to use low-latency for any enabled Live Input, falling back to regular HLS otherwise. If LL-HLS is being used, you’ll see “Low Latency” noted in the player.

During this phase of the beta, we are most closely focused on using OBS to broadcast and Stream’s built-in player to watch. However, you may test the LL-HLS manifest in a player of your own by appending ?protocol=llhls to the end of the HLS manifest URL. This flag may change in the future and is not yet ready for production usage; watch for changes in DevDocs.

Sign up today

Low-Latency HLS is Stream Live’s latest tool to bring your creators and audiences together. All new and existing Stream subscriptions are eligible for the LL-HLS open beta today, with no pricing changes or contract requirements --- all part of building the fastest, simplest serverless live-streaming platform. Join our beta to start test-driving Low-Latency HLS!

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