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Video Bitrate or Resolution – What makes Video Streaming Better? 04 August 2020

Resolution vs Bitrate


When we consider the quality of a video, there is a common misconception that “resolution” is the only determinant aspect. Well, there are important factors like “bitrate” that also contribute in determining video quality. 

If you aspire to or already have your own streaming platform, ensuring good video quality becomes imperative when looking for delivering a superior streaming experience. 

In this blog, we will discuss how resolution and bitrate go hand-in-hand for a good video streaming experience.  

Let’s begin with the question,

What is video encoding?

Encoding is the process of compressing and converting RAW video files into streamable format that is compatible with many devices. The goal here is that the converted video file consumes less space. This process can be carried out either by software or hardware encoder. 

Now, what’s the point of discussing encoding here?

Understanding video encoding is important as it directly impacts streaming quality. An encoded video file is easier to be transferred over the Internet than the raw file. The compressed video file requires reduced bandwidth while maintaining the optimum video quality


What is “Video Bitrate” then?

Video Bitrate is the measurement of the amount of data used to encode a second of a video. In simpler terms, it is the measure of data transfer speed of the video over the Internet and the amount of bandwidth it will consume while doing so. This is why bitrates are always measured in megabits or kilobits per second.

So, the higher the bitrate, the better is the video streaming quality. 

Bitrate encoding is basically classified into three types such as constant bitrate encoding, variable bitrate encoding, and multi-bitrate encoding. 


  • Constant Bitrate Encoding 

This type of encoding creates video files that have a consistent large size and higher quality. A viewer needs to have a strong and reliable internet connection to stream video content of this size. Constant bitrate encoding is more efficient and quicker than variable encoding.


  • Variable Bitrate Encoding 

In this encoding process, files are segmented into sizes that can be transmitted easily. As video segments are not equally sized, the bitrate is calculated by considering the average of segments size. Due to smaller file size, videos that are encoded with video bitrate encoding are easier to send, store, and upload. Moreover, streaming with smaller file size makes it easier for viewers with weaker internet connection to stream video with limited buffering and lagging.


  • Multi-Bitrate Streaming 

As a streaming platform owner, you need to select a bitrate considering the types of devices your viewers will use to stream the content on your OTT platform.

Audiences from around different locations of the world with varying internet speeds stream video. Hence, most broadcasters prefer to use multi-bitrate streaming along with an adaptive player. This setup streams the optimal video file size as per the available internet speed on the devices. 

What we understand from here is that to stream optimum quality videos to every viewer, bitrates of one size are not appropriate. 

Check out our blog on Adaptive bitrate streaming vs Multi-bitrate streaming to know more!


Now let’s understand what a Video Resolution is.

Video resolution refers to the number of distinct pixels that could be displayed in every dimension of a display device.

In other words, resolution is the measure of the width by the height of a video content when displayed in the screen. 

And the Unit of measurement here is Pixel. If a video is 720 pixels x 576 pixels, it means the video is 720 pixels wide and 576 pixels tall. However, the resolution is only referred to with the height, i.e. 576p. 

It is a general misconception that the video quality is better with higher resolution. Rather, the quality of the content is limited by the quality that the screen can display.

Now here’s the catch!

With slower internet speed, there are chances of video to lag and buffer which ultimately affects streaming quality. In such cases, it is suggested to stream video at lower resolutions. 

Check out our blog on SD, HD, and 4K- Streaming Video Resolutions Explained to know more about types of resolutions!

Well, there is another term that is associated with live video streaming and it is “FPS”.

FPS stands for “frames per second” and is relevant to streaming scenarios where you need to capture fast movements. FPS comes more into play while broadcasting live streaming of events like concerts and sports. Low FPS is required while broadcasting corporate events, training sessions, and webinars. On the other hand, you would need high frame rates while uploading on-demand video content for your viewers. 


Bitrate vs. Resolution 

As you can see from our above discussion that bitrate and resolution do not mean the same, however,they represent two features of a video file. Rather both work in correlation with each other. The higher the video resolution, the higher bitrate you will require to make video look good on the audience’s devices. While bitrate pertains to the size and speed of the video file, resolution refers to the height and width of the file in pixels. 

You  can try different combinations of bitrate and resolution to manipulate the qualities of your video streaming content. However, to get the most appropriate set of bitrate and resolution, whether it’s for video on demand or live streaming, it is essential to get your encoder properly configured.

[Know the recommended Encoding setting, ideal resolution-bitrate combination in a detailed eGuide – A Must have for every live streaming enthusiasts.]


Wrapping up, 

Hopefully, this overview has helped you in understanding the correlation between bitrate and resolution.  

Muvi offers you an instantly deployable video and live streaming platform backed by powerful, ABR-enabled Online Video Player that delivers the highest-quality video resolution and uninterrupted streaming on your white labeled OTT platform

Sign up now and take a 14-days Free Trial to explore more!


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Mousumi Rana
Mousumi is a Content Marketer for Muvi. She is passionate about writing corporate blogs, articles, case studies, and marketing collaterals. When not working, she loves to dance, gym, and explore new places.

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