Flash Streaming Dying Out, Many CDNs Shutting Down Support For RTMP

fms4-0-mnemonicI’ve gotten a few inquiries lately from content owners asking which CDNs still support Adobe’s proprietary Flash streaming format (RTMP). Over the past 12 months, many, but not all, of the major CDNs have announced to their customers that they will soon end support for Flash streaming. Industry wide, we have seen declining requirements for RTMP for some time and with most of the major CDNs no longer investing in Flash delivery, it has allowed them to reduce a significant third-party software component from their network. Flash Media Server (FMS) been a thorn in the CDN service providers’ sides for many years operationally and killing it off is a good thing for the industry. HLS/DASH/Smooth and other HTTP streaming variants are the future.

Since it’s confusing to know which CDN may still support Flash Streaming, or for how much longer, I reached out to all the major CDNs and got details from them directly. Here’s what I was told:

  • Akamai: Akamai still supports RTMP streaming and said while they are not actively promoting the product, they have not announced an end-of-life date. Akamai said they are investing in RTMP streaming but that their investment is focused on ensuring continued reliability and efficiency for current customers.
  • Amazon: Amazon continues to support RTMP delivery via CloudFront streaming distributions, but the company has seen a consistent decrease in RTMP traffic on CloudFront over the past few years. The company doesn’t have a firm date for ending RTMP support, but Amazon is encouraging customers to move to modern, HTTP-based streaming protocols. 
  • Comcast: Comcast does not support RTMP on their CDN and chooses to support HTTP-based media and all formats of that (HLS, HDS, Smooth, etc.) The only principal requirement they see in the market that involves RTMP is for the acquisition of live mezz streams which then get transcoded into various bit-variants and HTTP-based formats.
  • Fastly: Fastly has never supported RTMP to the edge/end-user. Their stack is pure HTTP/S and while they use to support RTMP ingest, the company retired that product in favor of partnering with Anvato, Wowza, JWPlayer and others.
  • Highwinds: Highwinds made the decision to stop supporting RTMP back in 2012 in favor of HTTP and HTTPS streaming protocols and have since helped a number of customers transition away from RTMP delivery to an HTTP focus.
  • Level 3: Level 3 stopped taking on new Flash streaming customers a year ago and will be shutting down existing customers by the end of this year.
  • Limelight Networks: Limelight still supports RTMP streaming globally across their CDN. The company said their current investment focus for video delivery is in their Multi Device Media Delivery (MMD) platform which can be used to ingest live RTMP feeds and deliver RTMP, RTSP, HLS, HDS, SS and DASH output formats. Limelight is encouraging customers to move away from RTMP and to HTTP formats for stream delivery.
  • Verizon Digital Media Services: Verizon announced plans to no longer support Flash streaming come June of 2017. They are actively working to decommission the RTMP playout infrastructure based on FMS 4.5. Verizon has written their own engine to continue to support RTMP ingest and re-packaging for HLS/DASH playout that is more natively integrated with their CDN, but they will no longer support RTMP playout after that time. Verizon is no longer actively onboarding new RTMP playout customers (since June 2016).

While many of the major CDNs will discontinue support for RTMP, a lot of smaller regional CDNs still support Flash streaming, so options do exist in the market for content owners. But the writing is on the wall and content owners should take note that at some point soon, RTMP will no longer be a viable option. It’s time to start making the transition away from RTMP as a delivery platform.