“What is Mux Video?” and nine other questions, answered

When you’re a startup, one of the most common questions you have to answer is: “What exactly do you do?” We’re answering this question all the time - on our website, on customer calls, at conferences. So in the interest of efficiency, here are nine common questions about Mux Video, answered as succinctly as possible.

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What is Mux Video?

A simple API to instant video publishing, optimized by data.

What does Mux Video replace?

Mux Video combines video encoding, storage (origin serving), and delivery into a single platform.

How do people build video streaming today?

The Mux Video approach is unique. Most of the world follows one of two main alternatives: either build a video streaming platform yourself on top of single-function APIs, or hand over control of everything to a third-party OVP.

Single-function APIs do one part of the video pipeline only. Think Zencoder or Elastic Transcoder (encoding), Fastly or Akamai (delivery), and S3 or GCS (storage). There are two downsides to these platforms: you still have to build significant software to tie these systems together, and some of the hardest problems in video streaming fall between encoding, storage, and delivery.

Online Video Platforms (OVPs) like Brightcove and Kaltura combine encoding, storage, and deliver with higher-level services: player, workflow, CMS, metadata, etc. Use an OVP if you want to outsource your whole video stack to a third party, but not if you're a developer who wants to bring video into your own software.

What does Mux Video not replace?

Player: You still need a video player. Fortunately, Mux Video works with every major video player on the market.

CMS: Mux Video isn't your CMS. If you're a developer building an application that streams video, you already have a CMS, and you don't want to duplicate CMS data in a video streaming platform. Duplicating data in two systems is bad for a number of reasons: besides violating DRY, it leaves you open to data integrity problems. What happens when your two CMSes get out of sync?

Workflow: Mux Video gives you the atomic building blocks of video publishing: video assets, thumbnails, live streams, playback URLs, and the like. But what you do with them is up to you. Higher-level services like OVPs tend to have strong opinions about workflow. (What thumbnails can you choose from? What steps need to be taken before a video is published? When is a video archived to cold storage?) Since Mux Video is just a simple API, you can make those decisions in your own software.

Who is Mux Video for?

Mux Video is designed for developers building video functionality into their software application. In other words, if you're building a web app or mobile app, and you want you or your users to be able to upload or stream video, Mux Video is for you.

Is Mux Video for live video or for video files?

Both. Video is just video, and we've architected Mux Video to work the same whether you send us a video file or a live stream.

Does "live" include video conferencing (real-time video)?

No. Real-time video requires super low latency - under 500ms in most cases. To accomplish this, real-time video uses a point-to-point approach instead of a one-to-many approach. You can maybe cram 20 people into a real-time video conference using Google Hangouts or whatever, but you can’t do this with 20,000. Because of this, real-time video is very different than other live video, which typically has latency between 2 seconds and 20 seconds.

Who is Mux Video NOT for?

If you don't have development resources, you can't really use Mux Video. Mux Video is an API; we don't have an upload button that you can use to post your videos, and we don't bundle a video player.

This means that Mux Video isn't really designed for individual content creators. If you just want to post a video or two, use Vimeo or YouTube. If you want to stream some Fortnite, try Twitch. But once your channel gets popular enough that you want to run your own video streaming platform, check out Mux.

Who is behind Mux?

The founders of Mux are the creators of Zencoder, Video.js, and Demuxed, and the team has played major roles at places like YouTube, Oculus, Twitch, and Brightcove. We're a team of video experts that has built much of the last generation of video technology, and we're using this knowledge to build the next generation.

How do I try it out?

Sign up for a free account, make two simple API calls, and you’re done.