You may have come across , MKV and WebM and may be wondering which format to use for your video project.

Well, there’s no one format better than the other two. Each will serve you well depending on your use or application.

Why? MP4, MKV and WebM are container formats.

They are capable of carrying different kinds of video quality as determined by the codecs they support.

That said, let’s look at the MP4 vs MKV vs WebM explanation.

MP4

This is the most popular container format used in digital video, ranging from web video, HDTV, tablets and smartphones.

MP4 is the short form for MPEG-4 Part 14 specification.

Version 1 of the container was released in 2001 and the second version followed suit in 2003.

The most popular codec used with MP4 is H.264 which is MPEG-4 Part 10. MP4 also supports the H.265 codec.

Read more about the MP4 container format.

What Multimedia Content Does MP4 Support?

MP4, apart from video supports audio and images.

It also supports DRM (Digital Rights Management) which means it’s content-encryption ready.

Licensing

You don’t require a license to distribute MP4 content. However, a license is needed for software that is used in the creation of MP4 content.

MKV

MKV also known as Matroska Video is an open source format. This means you don’t need to pay licensing fees for distributing MKV content or using it in your software.

That’s the reason why MKV is extensively used in free video software.

Like MP4, the MKV container is capable of holding video, audio and images.

Video files in MKV carry the .mkv extension, audio, .mka and 3D video, .mk3a.

MKV also supports DRM (Digital Rights Management) allowing for encrypted multimedia content.

Read more about the MKV container format.

WebM

The WebM container format can be considered a basic version of MKV.

The main drawback of WebM is limited codec support. It supports only free codecs like VP8 and VP9.

Here’s the thing – WebM files are MKV filesbut not all MKV files are WebM.

WebM is supported in the latest web browsers. However, if you’re using an older browser, you’ll not find the necessary support.

Read more about the WebM container format.

Which is Better?

Let’s look at the strengths of each of the container format. This will help you decide which to use for your video projects.

MP4 as you know has wide playback support. It is supported in HDTVs, smartphones and is adopted in streaming video.

MKV will suit you fine if you’re ripping DVDs or Blu-ray discs.

WebM will fit the bill if you’re using Google’s free VP8 and VP9 codecs.