Flash Video is a container file format used to deliver video over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player versions 6–11. Flash Video content may also be embedded within SWF files. There are two different video file formats known as Flash Video: FLV and F4V. The audio and video data within FLV files are encoded in the same manner as they are within SWF files. The F4V file format is based on the ISO base media file format and is starting with Flash Player 9 update 3. Both formats are supported in Adobe Flash Player and currently developed by Adobe Systems. FLV was originally developed by Macromedia.
The standards documentation for BBC Online states that the BBC now preferentially accepts Flash videos for submission, to the disadvantage of other formats previously in use on its sites such as RealVideo or WMV. Flash Video FLV files usually contain material encoded with codecs following the Sorenson Spark or VP6 video compression formats. The most recent public releases of Flash Player (collaboration between Adobe Systems and MainConcept) also support H.264 video and HE-AAC audio. All of these compression formats are currently restricted by patents.
Flash Video is viewable on most operating systems via the Adobe Flash Player and web browser plugin or one of several third-party programs. Apple's iOS devices do not support the Flash Player plugin and so require other delivery methods such as provided by the Adobe Flash Media Server.
There are functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264 or AAC which could not be overcome without a redesign of the file format. This is one reason why Adobe Systems is moving away from the traditional FLV file structure.
SWF files published for Flash Player 6 and later versions are able to exchange audio, video, and data over RTMP connections with the Adobe Flash Media Server. One way to feed data to Flash Media Server is from files in the FLV file format. Flash Player can play FLV file format directly.