3 Most Popular Video Formats Explained

As you may have noticed some video formats crop up a lot more frequently than others, and seem to be much more popular. That is very often for good reason, and it can help to know what the most popular video formats are – and why they are so popular in the first place.

Right now there are three video formats that are very popular, and each of which is unique in its own way:

MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)

As the most popular format right now, H.264 is normally paired with MP4 – and is the format that is used most frequently to distribute videos. It is compatible (with hardware support) on most devices, and is also the format that is used on online streaming platforms, social media, and HTML5 videos.

The reason for the format’s popularity originally was its compression was excellent – making it a good option for streaming high quality video and distributing it. Although other formats have better compression right now, its widespread support allow it to remain the clear favorite.

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)

Also known as H.265, HEVC is the successor to H.264 and is normally paired with MP4 or MKV. It provides better compression at similar quality, and can reduce the file size of H.264 videos by up to 50%.

The popularity of HEVC is mostly due to is compression, coupled with the fact that Apple recently started to support it on their devices. However its adoption has been slow for other reasons, and only newer devices have hardware support for it.



The MPEG-2 DVD format is essentially MPEG-2 but with some other restrictions to the resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate, bitrate, and other elements. As its name implies it is designed to be used with video DVDs, and is the format they are encoded in.

The use of MPEG-2 in DVDs is the main reason why it is still popular, despite being dated. Additionally it preserves quality well, and is sometimes used as an alternative intermediate format for editing purposes when lossless formats result in videos that are too large.

As you can see each of these formats are popular due to the role that they play as well as their inherent advantages over other formats. That being said they may eventually be supplanted, and for example the new AV1 format could replace both H.264 and H.265.

Now that you’re aware of each format and why it is popular, it should be easy to pinpoint which one you need to use or convert your video to. If necessary you can use platforms such as Online Video Converter as a MTS to MP4 converter, or to convert from other formats too.

Make no mistake the format that you choose for your video could affect it in various ways, not the least of which being its compatibility and compression. That is why it is important you select the right one – and you can start with the three options described above.