As you may have noticed, there are certain video formats that seem to crop up much more frequently than others. That is no accident, and in every case the popularity of video formats is tied to the benefits that it has or the specific ways in which it is used.

In fact knowing the most popular video formats can benefit you – as it will help you to more easily decide which format you should use if you ever encode or convert a video:

MP4 with H.264

Right now no other format is as popular as MP4 with H.264. Its combination of good compression via the H.264 codec and a versatile container in MP4 have led to it dominating the internet in particular. That in turn has made it widely-supported by devices and platforms, and transformed it into the safest format to share videos.

It should be noted that there are variants of MP4 with H.264 that are popular as well, such as the M4V used by iTunes, or AVCHD used by various camcorders.

HEVC (H.265)

  • The HEVC format was designed to be the successor to H.264, and improves on its compression. In fact HEVC can compress H.264 videos by up to 50%, which is certainly significant.

Unfortunately adoption of HEVC has been slow due to various issues, not the least of which being its complex licensing and royalty structure. It has gained a decent foothold nowadays however, and is supported in many newer devices.


Compared to other formats, MPEG-2 is practically venerable at this point – yet it remains one of the more popular formats due to the fact that it is used for video DVDs and in some cases Blu-ray as well. Most DVD players can only read videos encoded in MPEG-2, making it the format of choice for DVD media.

Flash video

At one point Flash video (FLV) was immensely popular and used extensively for online streaming. However it has fallen off and gradually been replaced by MP4 with H.264, but is still used frequently by some online video players.

Now that you know each format and why it is popular, you should find it easier to decide which to use. Converting videos between formats is easy enough with the tools available nowadays, and for example you could use Online Video Converter to convert MOV to MPEG.

Just remember that no video format will remain popular forever, and in time most of the formats listed above are likely to fall off and be replaced. The one up and coming format that you may want to keep an eye on is AV1 – as it could very well be the most popular video format in a few years from now.