The Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) is a network control protocol designed for use in entertainment and communications systems to control streaming media servers. The protocol is used for establishing and controlling media sessions between end points.
Clients of media servers issue VHS-style commands, such as play, record and pause, to facilitate real-time control of the media streaming from the server to a client (Video On Demand) or from a client to the server (Voice Recording).
The transmission of streaming data itself is not a task of RTSP. Most RTSP servers use the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) in conjunction with Real-time Control Protocol (RTCP) for media stream delivery.
However, some vendors implement proprietary transport protocols. The RTSP server software from RealNetworks, for example, also used RealNetworks’ proprietary Real Data Transport (RDT).
RTSP was developed by RealNetworks, Netscape and Columbia University, with the first draft submitted to IETF in 1996. It was standardized by the Multiparty Multimedia Session Control Working Group (MMUSIC WG) of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and published as RFC 2326 in 1998. RTSP 2.0 published as RFC 7826 in 2016 as a replacement of RTSP 1.0. RTSP 2.0 is based on RTSP 1.0 but is not backwards compatible other than in the basic version negotiation mechanism.