Video Platforms, Video Streaming APIs, and SDKs Explained

Adam Massaro
. 22 min read
streaming api sdks and ovps

Video is integral to digital experiences. Whether end-users are scrolling through social media, binging content on their connected TV, or sweating it out to an online fitness class, streaming now plays a central role in driving online engagement. 

But building video into products and services is tough. Businesses need robust streaming infrastructure to store, encode, manage, deliver, and analyze video content. Plus, most dev teams have expertise in their company’s core competency rather than back-end video technology. 

That’s where online video platforms (OVPs), video streaming application programming interfaces (APIs), and software development kits (SDKs) come into play.

Think of OVPs as all-in-one solutions. They offer a comprehensive suite of tools to manage your entire video workflow, from ingestion to analytics. These are ideal for businesses needing a user-friendly platform with minimal development effort. But if your requirements go beyond simply uploading and sharing video content, OVPs may be a poor fit.

APIs, on the other hand, provide granular control. They act as messengers, allowing you to integrate specific video functionalities like playback, encoding, or analytics into your existing applications. APIs are perfect for developers seeking the flexibility to develop advanced applications, without having to start from scratch.

Finally, SDKs are pre-built toolkits designed for integrating specific video features into mobile and web applications. They save development time by offering all the building blocks for a specialized language or task — like deploying your HTML5 player on Roku. 

SDKs are often used in conjunction with APIs and OVPs. For this reason, it’s not always a question of OVP vs. API vs. SDK, but rather which combination of technologies is best for your business.

Acronyms abound in the alphabet soup that is video streaming. But don’t worry. In this guide to OVPs, APIs, and SDKs, we define each term and explore which option is best depending on your use case. From there, we recommend the top products in each category for business leaders and software developers alike.

Technical requirements for deploying online video

Before getting into it, let’s nail down the capabilities and features needed to integrate video into your product and look at how OVPs, APIs, and SDKs support these requirements.

Encoding and transcoding 

Encoding and transcoding are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two distinct steps. Encoding involves converting RAW video into a compressed digital format directly after the video source is captured, while transcoding employs a digital-to-digital conversion process to prepare and optimize video content for distribution to end users.

Live Encoder Workflow

Most online video content has been both encoded and transcoded before it reaches viewers. These processes are what make it possible to deliver bulky video over the internet and ensure smooth playback across a variety of devices. 

Transcoding is a critical capability that’s supported by all major OVPs and APIs. What differs, though, is how advanced and flexible different platforms’ transcoding features are. Most OVPs take a one-size-fits-all approach. This means the video bitrate, frame rate, and other technical parameters are predefined and all streams are prepared in the same way.

APIs, however, offer more control over transcoding configurations without having to access a dashboard. This allows developers to configure encoding settings and use a variety of protocols and codecs. The process of uploading videos is also automated with APIs, whereas OVPs generally require manual uploads through the interface. Finally, some encoding solutions offer per-title encoding/transcoding capabilities. 

With per-title encoding, the settings are customized to each video. We designed the Bitmovin Per-Title Encoding solution to automatically analyze the complexity of every file and create the ideal adaptive bitrate (ABR) ladder depending on the content. This ensures high-quality viewing experiences and efficient data usage by creating dynamic bitrate ladders on a case-by-case basis. The player can then select from multiple bitrates based on network and computing resources available. 

One additional item is that you can deploy Bitmovin’s VOD and Live encoders on your infrastructure within any major cloud provider using Bitmovin’s Cloud Connect feature. This helps maintain the highest cost efficiency and use Bitmovin’s infrastructure through its managed service.

➡️ Read our Video Encoding Streaming Technology Guide to learn more.


Video accounts for the majority of the internet’s traffic. As such, it’s no surprise that CDN and storage bills make up the biggest operating expenses for OTT providers. The best way to minimize these costs is through technologies like per-title encoding, so you’ll want to consider how different components of your workflow impact one another when evaluating OVPs and APIs.

A Forrester study found that Bitmovin customers running their encoding in the cloud saw a 355% ROI over a three-year period.

Other factors to think about that impact storage costs include the anticipated volume, geographic distribution, and integration efforts. Many OVPs offer built-in storage solutions as part of their platform to simplify management. This provides a centralized storage system within the platform, but it’s difficult to tailor it to your specific storage requirements.

Streaming video APIs offer a more customizable approach to storage, including the ability to integrate with popular cloud storage providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. This means developers can adapt the approach based on their scalability and geographic redundancy needs, and also optimize storage costs based on their existing workflows.


Video delivery comes next, which is made possible by Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like AWS, Akamai, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Marketpalce. These networks of interconnected servers ensure efficient video distribution across the world. 

Most OVPs have multiple CDNs built-in, whereas APIs often give users the flexibility to deliver streams on their own CDN. With Bitmovin, you can do either, ensuring both customization and easy workflow configuration. 


Video players are essential components of streaming platforms, giving viewers control over what they watch, which devices they watch it on, and when the content plays. Players also tie everything together, making player control critical to the workflow.

HTML5 players can be built from scratch using an open-source option or deployed and customized using a solution like the Bitmovin Player. The same goes for deploying native players for iOS and Android. Going with a pre-built option provides access to advanced features like adaptive bitrate playback, DRM support, monetization capabilities, and interactive playback controls. 

Software development kits (SDKs) also play a major role in streamlining support for a range of devices and mobile applications by providing platform-specific integration tools. This helps organizations scale their solution and ensure a high-quality viewing experience for their audience without requiring significant development time. 

OVPs always have integrated video players as part of their platform, but they may lack the flexibility and customization required for branding or integrating unique playback features.

➡️ Read our Ultimate Guide to Video Players to learn more.


Even the most straightforward streaming workflows have hiccups. As such, insight into video performance and quality of experience is a must. Organizations need the ability to pinpoint issues before they impact their audience, gain actionable insight into viewer behavior, and optimize resource utilization with visibility across the video streaming pipeline.

OVPs typically provide basic metrics like views, watch time, and completion rate. Some take this even further with heatmaps and click-through rates. For deeper insight, though, APIs are the way to go. 

With API access, you can gain insights into a wider range of data points, including:

  • Error tracking
  • Stream performance
  • Advertising metrics
  • Viewer demographics
  • And more.

With Bitmovin’s Analytics, organizations can actively track more than 200 data points in real time and see how their streams compare to industry benchmarks. They can view performance within the Bitmovin Dashboard or utilize the Analytics API to get more granular insights which can then be pushed to major data aggregator platforms, such as Grafana, Looker Studio, AWS S3, and others for a more holistic view.

Online Video Platforms (OVPs)

Now that we’ve explored the primary requirements of video streaming — encoding and transcoding, storage, distribution, playback, and analytics — let’s dive into online video platforms (OVPs) and the best options for businesses.  

What is an OVP?

Online video platforms, or OVPs, are the prefabricated homes of video streaming. They act as turnkey solutions for managing, distributing, and monetizing online video content — eliminating the need for technical expertise or third-party integrations.

With an OVP, you get it all. The content management system (CMS), HTML5 video player for web-based devices, native players for mobile experiences (sometimes), and monetization tools are built in. This is great for businesses that want an effortless solution, but customization can be limited. It’s difficult to tailor OVPs to unique business models or existing workflows. As such, OVPs are better suited for building your business’s online presence across a dedicated channel, simple video workflows that don’t need to be fine-tuned, and hosting small content libraries on your website. 

OVP benefits

OVPs act as an all-in-one streaming platform for businesses with limited developer expertise and straightforward requirements. The benefits include:

  • Turnkey solution: If you’re looking to host an online streaming event, embed content on your website, or use video for employee communications, OVPs are the quickest way to get started.
  • Low cost of entry: OVPs are affordable and sometimes even free. They are also a great way to test interest among your user base before investing developer resources into building out a more comprehensive solution.

OVP cons

Because OVPs are designed for simple streaming workflows, businesses are limited to the tools and capabilities built into these platforms. This means that if you’re trying to build something specific, like an esports platform or fitness app, you’d be better off with an API. 

  • Limited functionality: Advanced features and specific functionalities like low-latency streaming, VR & 360, and ad insertion are often missing from OVPs.
  • Lacking control: Because OVPs control every step of the streaming workflow — including the encoding technology, CDN, and player — businesses using OVPs don’t have the same control over their infrastructure. 
  • Missing insight: OVPs offer basic analytics capabilities. However, businesses requiring detailed insight into viewer behavior and stream performance would be better off with a streaming analytics API.

What to look for in an OVP

If an OVP makes sense for your business or video project, you’ll want to evaluate the following aspects of selecting a vendor:

  1. Ease of use: Convenience is the name of the game with OVPs, so you’ll want to pick something with an intuitive user interface (UI). The goal is to streamline tasks like uploading, managing, and distributing video content for non-technical users.
  2. Feature set: Essential features like uploading and sharing content, embedding video on your website, and the ability to stream live content should be table stakes when comparing providers. From there, in-depth analytics, the ability to customize the viewing experiences, and advanced encoding capabilities help set some OVPs apart.
  3. Scalability and flexibility: If you’re planning for growth, you’ll want to choose an OVP that can scale with your business. Some OVPs offer APIs to accommodate future expansion, eliminating the need to migrate to a more flexible solution. 
  4. Reliability and performance: Assess the uptime guarantees, server stability, and service level agreements of each option. Additionally, look for features like adaptive bitrate streaming, integration across multiple CDNs, and global delivery capabilities to ensure smooth playback for viewers worldwide.
  5. Security measures: Content protection is key for use cases like corporate communications or streaming premium content to subscribed viewers. Encryption, access controls, and digital rights management (DRM) all help to this end.
  6. Customer support: Assess the level of customer support provided by the OVP vendor, including tutorials, technical assistance, and dedicated account management. Look for a vendor that offers responsive support channels and comprehensive resources to help you maximize the capabilities of the platform.

Best OVPs for businesses

You’re likely familiar with leading brands in the OVP space. YouTube, Vimeo, and Bitmovin’s Streams are three popular examples. Here’s a look at how they compare. 


YouTube OVP

As one of the most recognizable names in online video, YouTube needs no introduction. The platform allows users to upload, view, share, and comment on videos within its platform. Businesses can also use YouTube to embed videos on their website, but YouTube branding and advertisements make this a less-than-ideal application. Monetizing the content is also restrictive, as is content security. 

Most businesses use YouTube as a way to build their online presence rather than support their video infrastructure. For that reason, it’s often categorized as a social media channel rather than as an OVP. 

Marketers and businesses shouldn’t sleep on YouTube. However, creating video-powered products and services requires taking a different approach.


Vimeo OVP

Vimeo offers tools for making, managing, and sharing videos. The platform lets businesses and creators host virtual events, webinars, and other marketing-focused experiences. It also provides the functionality to live stream to multiple social channels and websites simultaneously.

Vimeo offers limited monetization tools and often drives traffic to rather than your business’s website. That said, the platform delivers ad-free experiences and more end-user customization options than YouTube.

Marketers looking for a simple way to embed video on their website and live stream across multiple platforms may want to give Vimeo a try. But if you’re serious about building native video experiences that live entirely on your owned digital properties, you’ll want a more business-oriented OVP like Bitmovin’s Streams. 

Bitmovin’s Streams

Bitmovin Streams video streaming api

Bitmovin’s Streams helps simplify streaming for businesses, serving as a single platform for live and on-demand encoding, CDN delivery, video playback, analytics, security, and more. As an end-to-end solution that’s built for the cloud, it eliminates the complexity of building your streaming infrastructure in-house. 

Features supported by Streams include:

  • Flexible video uploading and encoding for on-demand content
  • Live streaming and transcoding
  • Drag-and-drop Player customization
  • Simple sharing and easy-to-use embedding
  • In-depth analytics
  • WordPress plugin for quick integration
  • Content protection with Signed URLs and domain restrictions

Streams also has a simple API for organizations looking for greater control, which brings us to the next section.

streaming api - Bitmovin

“Streams is one of our most important launches to date because it helps new media companies deliver high-quality streams to audiences simply and efficiently. New media companies typically have smaller developer teams that don’t have the time and capacity to get familiar with the complexities of video streaming. Therefore, there is a clear market need for a straightforward, low- or no-code solution like Streams that removes the complexity of video streaming to deliver content at speed and scale.

Demand for video streaming has grown at an incredible rate in recent years, all of which has been underpinned by extraordinary technological advancements. However, there now needs to be a greater focus on making innovations work in a simpler, more user-friendly way so video streaming can truly become ubiquitous, to enable everyone to build video products on the same level of quality and experience as the big names like Netflix.”

– Stefan Lederer (CEO, Bitmovin)

Video Streaming APIs

APIs, or application programming interfaces, are essential tools in every developer’s toolkit. They provide the flexibility to develop advanced apps while hiding the complexity behind the scenes. Here’s a look at the role they play in the world of audio and video streaming.

What is a video streaming API?

Video streaming APIs connect developers to streaming platforms like Bitmovin using code. Unlike traditional user interfaces (UI) found on video platforms like YouTube, APIs offer programmatic access to a wide range of features and capabilities, empowering developers to build customized streaming experiences tailored to their specific needs.

Without video APIs, businesses looking to deploy unique and innovative video applications would have to start from scratch. In this way, APIs speed things up significantly. Many developers elect to use video APIs to support a wide range of functionality for creating, customizing, and controlling video workflows. 

Some platforms that offer APIs can also be managed via a no-code UI. This is a great middle ground. While the UI might not provide the same level of control and customization, API access is available should the business need it. 

APIs impose almost no limits on the external services and functionality that you can integrate into your application while speeding up development through access to core services like encoding and playback.  

How do video APIs work?

Video APIs act as intermediaries, facilitating communication between the developer’s application and the underlying streaming infrastructure. In doing so, APIs hide the intricacies of online video distribution, letting developers focus on the products they’re building. 

Here’s what takes place behind the scenes when using a video streaming API.

  1. Establishing communication: Video APIs create channels for developers to interact with the underlying video streaming platform. These channels typically operate over HTTP or HTTPS protocols, allowing for secure data transmission.
  2. Authentication and authorization: Before accessing the functionalities offered by the streaming video API, developers need to authenticate themselves and obtain appropriate authorization. This is often achieved through the issuance of API keys or tokens, which verify the identity of the requesting user.
  3. Requesting services and data: From there, developers can use video APIs to request various services and data from the streaming platform. This may include tasks such as uploading video content, initiating encoding or transcoding processes, retrieving playback URLs, or fetching analytics metrics.
  4. Processing requests: The video API then processes these requests by interfacing with the backend infrastructure of the streaming platform. This involves executing the requested operations, such as encoding/transcoding video files into multiple formats, storing content in designated locations, or generating playback manifests.
  5. Handling responses: After processing requests, video APIs generate responses containing the results of the requested operations. These responses are returned to the developers in a standard data format like JSON or XML. 
  6. Monitoring and management: Video APIs often include functionalities for monitoring and managing video assets and workflows. This may involve querying the status of ongoing encoding jobs, adjusting playback settings dynamically, or accessing real-time analytics data to gain insights into viewer behavior.
  7. Ensuring reliability and performance: Video APIs prioritize reliability and performance to ensure smooth and uninterrupted video streaming experiences. Mechanisms for fault tolerance, load balancing, and adaptive bitrate delivery help handle varying levels of demand and end-user bandwidth and mitigate potential disruptions.

Types of video streaming APIs

Streaming APIs are often broken out by the specific capabilities they support. As such, you may hear references to more nuanced services like a live video streaming API or video analytics API. The names are self-explanatory, but let’s touch on how they compare.

VOD encoding APIs

Video-on-demand (VOD) encoding APIs take source files and convert them into adaptive streaming formats like MPEG-DASH and HLS for adaptive bitrate delivery. They also create thumbnails, subtitles, and other metadata. But that’s not all. When using Bitmovin’s encoder, you benefit from per-title encoding capabilities, multi-codec streaming, and HDR support as well.

Capabilities to look for in a VOD encoding API:

  • Multi-codec and format support
  • Adaptive bitrate delivery (ABR)
  • Per-title (also called content-aware) encoding
  • Thumbnail and metadata generation
  • Cloud-based processing
  • Advanced features like DRM protection and ad insertion
  • Integrations with your existing cloud storage, CMS, or analytics platforms

Live streaming APIs

Broadcasting live video online is no simple task. Unlike video-on-demand (VOD) encoding APIs, which focus on processing pre-recorded content, live streaming APIs facilitate the real-time transmission of video content to viewers as it happens. These workflows often use a contribution encoder like OBS or Videon EdgeCaster, as well as a live streaming API like Bitmovin

Whether broadcasting live events, webinars, or gaming streams, these APIs empower developers to deliver high-quality live video content reliably and efficiently. To keep lag at a minimum, you’ll want to find a live streaming API with support for low-latency protocols like RTMP or SRT.

Capabilities to look for in a live streaming API:

  • Low-latency protocols like RTMP, SRT, and WebRTC
  • Support for primary and backup inputs with automatic failovers
  • Integration with popular contribution encoders like OBS, Wirecast, etc.
  • Integration with interactivity tools like chat and polling
  • Security and DRM
  • Live recording and archiving
  • Analytics and insights

“Bitmovin’s flexible and customizable technology has enabled us to solve one of our unique broadcasting challenges: to seamlessly generate a vast amount of parallel live video feeds and present them to the user in the highest quality, wherever they are in the world. 

Znipe.TV’s unique technology of broadcasting time-synchronized video stream of multiple angles sets new demand on a transcoder service, which Bitmovin delivers with their fantastic technical roadmap. To achieve the unique Znipe.TV viewing experience, we chose Bitmovin’s encoding to handle the video transcoding so that we can focus on what we do best, providing world-class entertainment for fans globally, live and on demand.”

– Erik Åkerfeldt (CEO & Co-founder, Znipe.TV)

Playback APIs

Playback APIs, also called client-side video APIs, allow developers to interact with a video player’s core functionality. This includes creating video player instances, controlling playback, or loading new sources. A video player API can also be used to monitor the state of a video player and receive notifications when certain playback events occur.

While some video player APIs differ across platforms, we designed the Bitmovin Player API’s to provide platforms with a unified development experience across Web/HTML5, Android, iOS, and Roku.

Capabilities to look for in a player API:

  • Cross-platform compatibility and SDKs for different devices
  • Customizable video player UI
  • Advanced playback features like subtitles and playback speed control
  • Adaptive bitrate support
  • Offline playback support
  • Integration with analytics platforms
  • Security features
  • Testing solutions to ensure quality playback

Analytics APIs

Video analytics APIs provide extensive customization over data architecture and how it’s presented. The Bitmovin Analytics API, for instance, allows developers to export raw datasets to cloud storage buckets and further enrich their insight with information collected by other providers. 

With analytics APIs, developers gain access to real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities. Whether the goal is to detect playback errors, identify trends, or monitor audience engagement during live events, these APIs enable timely decision-making and proactive intervention should any hiccups occur.

Capabilities to look for in an analytics API:

  • Data capture across an extensive range of data points
  • Real-time insights and reporting
  • Data customization and export
  • Integration with existing analytics platforms

Considerations when comparing video APIs

We’ve covered the capabilities needed for specific parts of the workflow, but what about general considerations that apply to all streaming APIs? Here’s a look at key considerations.

Flexible deployment

Development teams shouldn’t be retrained to specific hardware or cloud services. As such, you’ll want to look for video encoding and playback APIs that are decoupled from any underlying technology. Finding video infrastructure solutions that can be deployed anywhere prevents vendor lock-in and boosts agility.

If you’re already running applications in the cloud, then finding products that can run on your existing resources often makes sense. You’ll also gain more control over costs and commitments by finding a video streaming solution that’s available on your existing cloud providers’ marketplaces.

Bitmovin’s solutions are available on AWS Marketplace, Azure Marketplace, and Google Cloud Marketplace. We also offer the flexibility to utilize your pool of resources on Google Cloud or use our solution on Akamai Cloud.

Comprehensive functionality

Video streaming workflows have a lot of moving parts. So we’d suggest finding a video API that offers coverage across every step, from encoding to playback to analytics. It’s also imperative to assess your specific needs — such as low-latency streaming, ad insertion, and advanced UI styling — before landing on a vendor. 

➡️ Check out our extensive library of interactive demos and API examples for a peak at the functionality our platform supports.


One of the main benefits of going with a video API over an OVP is the extensive customization it will allow. This is especially important at customer touchpoints like the video player. The ability to adjust the appearance and add interactive elements to the player UI will help deliver the differentiated experience you’re aiming to build. 

That said, when speed-to-market is a priority, you don’t want to start from scratch. Finding a player API that can be tweaked without having to build the entire interface is a great middle ground.

Integration effort

The ease of integrating video capabilities into your workflow will impact your development timeline and the associated costs. Teams looking to get their services to market ASAP may be better off with a turnkey OVP than a video API. But, if the flexibility of a video API is non-negotiable, then you’ll want to find a solution with extensive developer tools. Launching cross-platform video experiences is already complex, which is why builder-centric resources are worth their weight in gold. 

Any vendor worth your investment should offer:

  • Documentation
  • Support for popular programming languages
  • Development guides
  • Code samples
  • Community forums
  • 24/7 technical support and SLAs
  • Automated testing solutions
  • Dedicated software developer kits (SDKs)

OVPs vs. streaming APIs

To wrap up the last two sections, here’s a table summarizing the key differences between OVPs and APIs:

What it isAll-in-one video solutions with predefined workflows for organizations lacking technical expertise.Developer-centric building blocks for unique video streaming platforms.
Technical nameOnline video platformApplication programming interface
Ease of useUser-friendly interface, drag-and-drop functionalityRequires development expertise
Control and flexibilityLimited customization options, predefined workflowsGranular control over every aspect of video delivery
Features offeredBuilt-in features like encoding, storage, CDN, players, analyticsOften focus on specific functionalities, though some video platforms offer API coverage across the workflow
IntegrationLimited integration options with external toolsHighly flexible integration with various services and workflows
Development effortNo coding requiredRequires developers to build custom integrations
Learning curveQuick and easy to learn with an intuitive UISteeper learning curve due to technical requirements
Cost effectivenessCost-effective for basic needsCan yield cost savings through integration with existing tech stack
Best forBusinesses with basic video needs and limited developer resourcesDevelopers and businesses seeking advanced customization and unique features

Video streaming SDKs

An SDK is a set of software-building resources tailored to a specific platform (like Roku) or scripting language (like Python). 

What is an SDK?

An SDK, or software development kit, is a set of developer-centric tools designed for a specific hardware, operating system, or language. These pre-packaged kits are made up of libraries, APIs, documentation, and code samples — essentially everything required to make a developer’s life easier.

What is a streaming SDK?

Video streaming SDKs help businesses accomplish specific tasks, such as mobile encoding or video playback on gaming consoles. While SDKs aren’t required to support this functionality, they abstract away much of the complexity and provide developers with specialized tools catered to a need.

Common video SDK Examples

Popular streaming SDKs are tailored to address the unique requirements of different platforms and use cases. Here are some of the SDKs video engineers rely on.

Encoding SDKs

Say you’re looking to build a user-generated content (UGC) mobile app that enables users to stream live video within your platform. For this, you’d need a mobile encoding SDK to convert the raw video files into a compressed streaming format for transport over the internet. 

Technologies like Streamaxia OpenSDK and the Larix Broadcaster SDK support these capabilities by encoding live content into contribution protocols like RTMP, SRT, and RTSP.

Alternatively, imagine you’re building a fitness broadcast platform like Classpass that lets users stream on-demand workout videos. Integrating the Bitmovin API directly into your platform would ensure high-quality playback for viewers and cost-effective storage for your organization. However, implementing this into your existing technology stack could require writing and maintaining code specific to the API’s structure and functionalities. 

With encoding SDKs catering to specific languages like Java, Ruby, and Python, developers can rely on pre-written methods for interacting with the Bitmovin Player API — significantly speeding up time to market.

Bitmovin offers dedicated SDKs for the following programming languages:

Video player SDKs

Consider all the devices that we stream content on today. End users demand the same experience across mobile screens, web browsers, and smart TVs. All of these environments have different requirements, though, which translates to countless hours of development time. 

Using a player SDK catered to each device alleviates this challenge. Video player SDKs make it easy to deploy your solution everywhere viewers are tuning in while ensuring flawless playback across screens. 

They do so by providing the app development tools required to embed video players into specific devices, making it simple for developers to create, control, and monitor the video player experience.

Bitmovin offers dedicated SDKs for the many devices out there, including:

Did you know…

Deploying Bitmovin’s Player on 2 or more SDKs enables customers to reach an additional 200,000 viewers monthly. Moreover, utilizing it on both iOS and Android platforms can save over 600 hours in player maintenance annually.

Learn more.

Streaming APIs vs. video SDKs

In most cases, developers use APIs and SDKs in tandem. So when considering video encoding, player, and analytics solutions, you’ll want to find developer-centric partners like Bitmovin that provide robust APIs and SDKs, extensive documentation, Github repositories, and community forums to speed up buildout.

Here’s a summary of how APIs and SDKs compare in terms of required expertise, development effort, and customization.

Streaming APIsVideo SDKs
What it isProgramming interfaces that interact with video streaming services, offering specific functionalities like encoding, transcoding, playback, and DRM.Pre-built software development kits that provide ready-to-use components like players, recording tools, and live encoding capabilities for mobile and web applications.
Technical nameApplication programming interfaceSoftware development kit
Ease of useRequires development expertiseRequires development expertise
Control and flexibilityHigh level of control over specific functionalitiesLess control due to focus on using pre-built components
CustomizationHighly customizable through API parameters and integrationsLimited customization within SDK functionalities
IntegrationFlexible integration with various services and workflowsLimited integration options within SDK functionalities
Development effortOften require more effort for developers to implementReduce overall dev effort by providing abstractions and pre-built solutions
Best forBusinesses with developer expertise seeking fine-grained control, advanced features, and unique integrationsBusinesses with moderate developer resources that require basic functionalities and faster integration


If you’re looking to add video to your service or application, you’re going to need an OVP, API, SDK, or a combination of all three. 

Here at Bitmovin, we use YouTube as a marketing channel and the Streams UI as a tool to quickly go live and share on-demand content on our website. These OVPs are great for tasks like uploading and sharing video content.

Companies looking to build innovative video platforms need more features than an OVP can provide. There’s always the option to develop bespoke solutions in-house, but it can get expensive. Plus, time to market matters. And by selecting ready-to-use streaming solutions that integrate with your existing ecosystem, businesses can speed things up.  

APIs and SDKs provide the perfect middle ground of speed and customization. That’s why we offer developer-centric video infrastructure solutions backed by API coverage across the video workflow.  Our extensive library of streaming APIs, VOD and Live Encoders, Player SDKs, and real-time Analytics simplifies building and optimizing without constraints.

Whether you need an end-to-end video platform backed by a simple API or a combination of components (such as an HTML5 player, cloud-based encoding, live encoding, or video analytics solution), we provide the development solution required to power the future of online video. 

Find out how Bitmovin’s streaming products, APIs, and SDKs can give you a competitive edge. Start your trial today.

Adam Massaro

Adam Massaro

Product Marketing Manager

Adam Massaro is the Product Marketing Manager at Bitmovin, focusing on everything related to the Bitmovin Player and the Streams products. He’s been in the industry for over six years and drives Go To Market efforts across the Player, Streams, and many more of our solutions.

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