Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP is an adaptive bitrate streaming technique that enables high-quality streaming of media content over the Internet delivered from conventional HTTP web servers. Similar to Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) solution, MPEG-DASH works by breaking the content into a sequence of small segments, which are served over HTTP. Each segment contains a short interval of playback time of content that is potentially many hours in duration, such as a movie or the live broadcast of a sports event. The content is made available at a variety of different bit rates, i.e., alternative segments encoded at different bit rates covering aligned short intervals of playback time. While the content is being played back by a MPEG-DASH client, the client uses a bit rate adaptation (ABR) algorithm to automatically select the segment with the highest bit rate possible that can be downloaded in time for playback without causing stalls or re-buffering events in the playback. The current MPEG-DASH reference client dash.js offers both buffer-based (BOLA) and hybrid (DYNAMIC) bit rate adaptation algorithms. Thus, a MPEG-DASH client can seamlessly adapt to changing network conditions and provide high-quality playback with few stalls or re-buffering events.
MPEG-DASH is the first adaptive bit-rate HTTP-based streaming solution that is an international standard. MPEG-DASH should not be confused with a transport protocol — the transport protocol that MPEG-DASH uses is TCP. MPEG-DASH uses existing HTTP web server infrastructure that is used for delivery of essentially all World Wide Web content. It allows devices like Internet-connected televisions, TV set-top boxes, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. to consume multimedia content (video, TV, radio, etc.) delivered via the Internet, coping with variable Internet receiving conditions. Standardizing an adaptive streaming solution is meant to provide confidence to the market that the solution can be adopted for universal deployment, compared to similar but more proprietary solutions like Smooth Streaming by Microsoft, or HDS by Adobe. Unlike HDS or Smooth Streaming, DASH is codec-agnostic, which means it can use content encoded with any coding format, such as H.265, H.264, VP9, etc.
MPEG-DASH technology was developed under MPEG. Work on DASH started in 2010; it became a Draft International Standard in January 2011, and an International Standard in November 2011. The MPEG-DASH standard was published in April 2012 but has been revised in 2019 as MPEG-DASH ISO/IEC 23009-1:2019.
DASH is a technology related to Adobe Systems HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Apple Inc. HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. DASH is based on Adaptive HTTP streaming (AHS) in 3GPP Release 9 and on HTTP Adaptive Streaming (HAS) in Open IPTV Forum Release 2. As part of their collaboration with MPEG, 3GPP Release 10 has adopted DASH (with specific codecs and operating modes) for use over wireless networks.
The DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF) further promotes and catalyzes the adoption of MPEG-DASH and helps transition it from a specification into a real business. It consists of major streaming and media companies, including Microsoft, Netflix, Google, Ericsson, Samsung, Adobe, etc., and creates guidelines on the usage of DASH for different use cases in practice.
MPEG-DASH is integrated into other standards, e.g. MPEG-DASH is supported in HbbTV (as of Version 1.5).
DASH is an adaptive bitrate streaming technology where a multimedia file is partitioned into one or more segments and delivered to a client using HTTP. A media presentation description (MPD) describes segment information (timing, URL, media characteristics like video resolution and bit rates), and can be organized in different ways such as SegmentList, SegmentTemplate, SegmentBase, and SegmentTimeline, depending on the use case. Segments can contain any media data, however, the specification provides specific guidance and formats for use with two types of containers: ISO base media file format (e.g. MP4 file format) or MPEG-2 Transport Stream.
DASH is audio/video codec agnostic. One or more representations (i.e., versions at different resolutions or bit rates) of multimedia files are typically available, and selection can be made based on network conditions, device capabilities, and user preferences, enabling adaptive bitrate streaming and QoE (Quality of Experience) fairness. DASH standard does not specify the adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR) logic. DASH is also agnostic to the underlying application layer protocol. Thus, DASH can be used with any protocol, e.g., DASH over CCN.
On July 27, 2015, MPEG LA announced a call for MPEG-DASH-related patents in order to create a single patent pool for this technology. MPEG LA announced its MPEG-DASH patent portfolio license. It includes patents that are essential to the MPEG Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP standards.