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Top 5 Video Formats in 2021: A Detailed Guide

Sreejata Basu Published on : 23 July 2021
Top 5 Video Formats in 2021


There is no ‘one-size-fits-for-all’ in the case of video file formats- every operating system, web browser, electronic device and video platform differs from each other and not all of them can support every video format. To add to the ordeal, there are dozens of digital video formats out there, each with its own share of characteristics and technical compatibilities. 

As a content creator, you need to find out the perfect format for your video business as every video format comes with its own set of strengths and limitations. This blog will give you all the information you need about web video formats along with pros and cons to help you decide better!


What are Video Formats?

Every three-letter file extension in your computer acts as some kind of digital file format, ranging from Microsoft Word’s “.doc” to your music library dominated by the “.mp3” format. Similarly, a video format is a type of a file format, or in other words, a container for storing compressed audio and video data, which sometimes includes subtitles as well. 

Did you know that by 2023, videos will make up 82% of the Global Consumer Traffic?

To know about the best video streaming container formats for live streaming, read our blog, How to Choose the Best Video Container Format for Live Streaming.


Best 5 Video Formats for Video Streaming in 2021

The following 5 video formats are among the most widely used in today’s video streaming landscape. Let’s have a look at it:


1. MP4

Acclaimed as one of the most universally compatible video file formats, MP4 or MPEG-4 Part 14 or MPEG-4 AVC ( Advanced Video Coding ) was first introduced in 2001. The official file extension is .mp4. From the time of its inception, MP4 became widely popular because of its ability to maintain high video quality while reducing its file size considerably. MP4 ousts redundant data that most video data contains by virtue of which it reduces file size while maintaining quality. 


  • MP4 is widely compatible with numerous players, operating systems and devices. Video-on-demand platforms like YouTube encourage users to upload content in MP4 format.
  • Low bandwidth requirement makes sharing on social media easier and faster.
  • Even after compression MP4 maintains high video quality



Not recommended for movies as it is not editable. For example, importing files in the MP4 format into video editing programs sometimes causes those programs to crash.



Developed by Microsoft, The full abbreviation of WMV is “Windows Media Video”, a compressed video container format built for the Windows Media framework. It is one of the most recognized video file formats in its category supporting cross platforms like Windows and Mac. The WMB is a popular choice for online video streaming as the compression method is better than that of MP4. 


  • WMV format boasts high video quality and its compression ratio is twice that of MP4.
  • The fact that it can contain a large amount of audio and video information in a small amount of storage space makes it a good choice for online video streaming
  • The additional feature of DRM or Digital Rights Management keeps piracy at bay



  • Apple products do not support WMV so users have to download the Windows Media Player App


3. WebM

WebM is an open, royalty-free video format created by Google for HTML5 with the specific goal of ensuring that it works well on websites. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 or VP9 video codecs and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis or Opus audio codecs. Google designed WebM specifically to work with HTML5, which makes it an ideal choice for browser-based videos that need to play on any device.


  • Open source technology makes it freely accessible for the public
  • Can maintain high resolution video even with reduced file size
  • Can be easily edited with video editing tools



  • Currently, it is less supported by web browsers. Only Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome supports WebM. Internet Explorer 9 and Safari require the third-party WebM Media Foundation Components.
  • Compared to MP4, fewer media players support WebM video or need to install components or plug-ins.


4. MOV

Developed by Apple, MOV is one of the most popular video formats for high-quality content. MOV is the video format specifically designed for QuickTime Player making it also compatible with Windows. The MOV video format can store audio, text, and video effects, however, its high-definition video performance can consume significant space on the computer.



  • MOV is a very web-friendly file format that offers high-definition video performance in a small file size. 


  • Users who don’t have QuickTime will have to download it to open your MOV file.


5. AVI

Developed in 1992 by Microsoft, AVI is one of the oldest video formats available. Acclaimed as one of the most versatile video formats, owing, of course, to the longer time frame it has been around, AVI is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux and supported by most web browsers. However, since it uses less compression than other video formats, it results in larger files than the more modern video formats on this list.


  • A highly versatile video file format
  • AVI video has exceptionally high-quality audio fidelity.



  • AVI files, if uncompressed, can be very large in size as compared to the other file formats. 
  • AVI doesn’t support user interactivity (e.g., click to continue or pauses).



How to Choose the Best Video Format for your Video Streaming Platform?

Now, the answer to the question ‘How to choose the best video format?’ is not that simple, it depends on your business requirements. You need to keep in mind the fact that not all video formats are compatible with players, browsers and devices in use

It all comes down to the software you use, requirements for your video, marketing needs, and much more. If you are a Windows user, you can use WMV to work perfectly and offer compatibility.

If you are targeting a large audience base to view your streaming channel, opting for MP4 video format would make sense as most playback devices and platforms support MP4, making it the universal video format. Also since 75% of the videos are watched on mobile devices, the data only plays to the strength of this versatile video format. Additionally, MP4 can retain high video quality while maintaining relatively small file sizes.


Why do Video Formats Matter for Video Hosting Platforms?

The video streaming industry is a dynamic one which constantly keeps upgrading itself in terms of technology. Video streaming service providing companies invest  a lot of time, effort  and money on keeping pace with constantly evolving technology. However, not all video hosting platforms universally accept all video formats  which in turn enhances the ordeal of content creators to a great extent as far as the process of creation of quality content is concerned. This is because a compression standard when paired with an incompatible video container can add the surplus expense to a content creator’s video streaming workflow. 

Muvi supports encoding and transcoding compatibility with all video formats which includes MP4, MOV, MKV, WebM, FLV, VOB, M4V, AVI, 3GP, MPG. Once your video file is uploaded, Muvi encodes the same to different resolution versions for lower/higher Internet speeds and screen sizes across web, mobile, media boxes and smart TV ecosystem automatically. 


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Written by: Sreejata Basu

Sreejata is the Manager for Muvi’s Content Marketing unit. She is a passionate writer with a background in English Literature and music. By week Sreejata spends her time in the corporate world of Muvi, but on weekends she likes to take short hiking trips, watch movies and read interesting travelogues.

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