Progressive Streaming

Progressive Download (FLV)

In 1999 Macromedia (Now Adobe) introduced a new technique called progressive download for delivering video in Flash. This method enables developers to use ActionScript commands to feed external FLV files into a Flash movie and play them back during runtime. In this method, the video content (FLV file) is kept external to the other Flash content and the video-playback controls (the video player) in the SWF file. When the video is played, the video file is downloaded to the client's computer (hard drive) before playback. The file is served from a normal web server through an HTTP request just like a normal web page or any other downloadable document.

flv hosting progressive flv player Unlike traditional download-and-play methods of video delivery, however, the file starts playing before it has completely downloaded when you use progressive download. Pros and Cons Keeping the video external and separate to the SWF file offers a number of benefits over embedded video, including the following: Easy to update: It's relatively easy to add or change content independently of the video player and without the need to republish the SWF file. Small SWF file size: Your SWF file can remain very small for fast page loads and the video can be delivered when the user requests it. Better performance:

Because the FLV and SWF files are separate, the performance and results of your video playback will typically be better. Issues such as the lack of sync between the fps rate of the video and the fps rate of the SWF file will no longer be a problem. These benefits apply to both progressive download and streaming video.

They are compelling enough to warrant that embedded video should only be used as a last resort. When comparing progressive download to streaming video, there's really only one benefit to progressive download:

You don't need streaming server software to deliver the video. Progressive download video can be served from any normal web server.

For example, it can be served off the same machine that is running Apache or IIS and serving your HTML pages. While the progressive download approach is nice in that respect, you should note the following potential issues:

  • Limited seek and navigation capabilities: Viewers cannot seek forward through the video before it is completely downloaded. Viewers need to wait until the video is downloaded before they can navigate to a particular portion of the video. Because of this, streaming video will probably be a better choice than progressive download when you are delivering long video files in which you want to let viewers skip around, such as lengthy symposia or training materials. 
  • User-accessible content: Because the file is downloaded, the media physically resides on the viewer's machine. Savvy users will be able to search their browser caches or temporary Internet files and access the content. This is not necessarily a bad thing if the content owner has no concerns about rights management for his or her content. In fact, in that case it may actually be useful—if the user decides to view the same video clip again before the browser cache is cleared, the file plays back from the local cache without the user having to access the web again. However, if digital rights are a concern, streaming video is a better option.

When to Use Progressive Download

Although we have clients who use progressive download for 30 minute TV shows without issues, progressive download is a perfect use for hobbyists or websites that have low traffic requirements and only need to deliver short videos. Customers who need advanced features and control over their video delivery—not to mention displaying video to large audiences (for example, several hundred simultaneous viewers), tracking and reporting video viewing statistics, or offering the best video experience—should consider streaming video.

Need FLV Help?


 An introduction to FLV / Mp4 video

There are 2 ways to playback your FLV/MP4 video file – Progressive Streaming and Flash Server side Streaming (RTMP). FLV Hosting provides both services within your account. 

Learn More If you need help with Streaming FLV Video Files, visit our help forum at or at


What is FLV?
FLV stands for "Flash Live Video". It is a format that is designed for web video playback, offering high rates of compression yet ensuring the quality. Several products convert video files to FLV format, including our FLV Converter.

Notable users of the FLV file include Google Video, and YouTube.

Most FLV files use a variant of H.263 or H.264 to encode the video. MP4 / H264 can also be played by Flash Player..
So generalizing it, if you have a video file say in MPG or AVI format, you can put that video on your website by converting (through a FLV Encoder converter) it to FLV or Mp4 file.

FLV Streaming – Progressive and Flash Server:
There are two techniques that are used to stream a FLV file from a website. Progressive and RTMP Media Server. While this may confusing for most end user, these two techniques are used depending on a few parameters. We will try to explain them –

Progressive Streaming – Introduced in Flash 7.0, in 1999/2000 this method is a low cost yet effective one for the user. An interface or video player in SWF (Flash File Format) is embedded in the HTML/Php/ASP page. This video player contains the required code to playback a FLV file from a server location. The video file is externally placed from the SWF, but can be played with what is called "object embed tags". The video plays as the file is downloaded (depending on user connection speed and bitrate/size of video) and the user need not have to wait till the whole file is download.

1. No streaming servers are required based on monthly fees.
2. Consistent high quality playback at any good broadband connection speed.
3. Limited technical support required.
4. Easy to setup and maintain.

1. You cannot seek forward through the video before it is completely downloaded. You need to wait until the video is downloaded before you can navigate to a particular portion of the video.
2. Because the file is downloaded, the media physically resides on the viewer's machine. Savvy users will be able to access their browser caches or temporary Internet files and retrieve the video.

This is not necessarily harmful if you have no concerns about rights management for the video. But in case you want to protect your video, then this method of streaming is definitely not for you!

FLV Hosting Media Server – This method is a more desirable, professional way of serving streaming video on web. While in progressive download the file is downloaded to the viewer's machine and played back at the same time, with RTMP streaming method the file resides on the streaming server and is not downloaded while it is played. Apart from that there is no apparent difference between progressive download. The advantages are twofold. First, your media is protected. Secondly viewers can seek to any portion of the video to view that portion virtually instantly. This is particularly helpful if you have long hours of training material on your website.

1. Ability to handle huge user load.
2. Immediate random access to different parts of a movie.
3. Video remains on server (cannot be saved by viewers).
4. Supports Live Streaming Broadcast via capture card or webcam
5. Supports custom players, and some mobile devices

1. Not easy to setup for the average person. (FLV Hosting provides a simple upload /integration interface)
2. Server licensing fees (to set up on your own) more costly than progressive download.

Which should be your choice?
If you are looking for a low cost effective solution to put videos on your website and you have a low to moderate traffic then Progressive Streaming technique is your best option.
If you have a pretty heavy user load  and you are concerned about your media rights then you definitely need a streaming server setup.
FLV Hosting provides Progressive and Server RTMP streaming in a low cost account plans and dedicated Media Servers


Top 5 reasons to choose FLV  or MP4 as your streaming video format:
File sizes are small compared to others (can be almost 60% less) retaining high quality. Thus they take up less space on a server, and therefore, less usage of Bandwidth
File plays directly in more browsers than Windows Media, Real Player or QuickTime.
Players can be completely customized for logos, brandings and embedded links matching your website or product.
Players can play files from a database like MySQL or MS SQL Server, and are easy to manage.

Media servers are are less prone to security threats (RTMP versus http)

More information on Progressive Streaming and Flash Server Streaming

Progressive FLV Streaming
Used for smaller videos

Flash Media  Server FLV Streaming
Used for larger videos and content protection

FLV hosting uses RTMP MEDIA SERVER for large size (20 mins or more) video streaming and server side recording

The Flash Player browser plugin can play an FLV, but that FLV, must be either embedded in or linked to a SWF. That is, you can't just put the actual FLV on an HTML page. You can however reference the FLV file using action script and SWF (the player controls) which now opens up the door to brand your player, add colors and logos, skins, and links to further information.

Flash Player, the embedded plugin that is in 98% of all internet browsers, and allows playback of Flash SWF files. It is a preferred method because there is no need for a 3rd party download such as Real Player WMP, or Quicktime.

Recent additions have now included playback of an FLV video file. This separates the SWF from the video so allowing faster playback.

Another important difference between progressive streaming and Server Side Media streaming is the Player (SWF) The Streaming Server needs the addition of action scripting to communicate to the server properly. If you cannot construct your own RTMP Streaming player using Dreamweaver or Flash 8, you can use our players, available for purchase as a SWF file or complete editable FLA files.