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The heterogeneity of the Internet's transmission resources and end system capability makes it difficult to agree on acceptable traffic characteristics among the multiple receivers of a multicast video stream. Three basic approaches have been proposed to deal with this problem: 1) multicasting the replicated video streams at different rates; 2) multicasting the video encoded in cumulative layers; and 3) multicasting the video encoded in noncumulative layers. Even though there is a common belief that the layering approach is better than the replicated stream approach, there have been no studies that compare these schemes. This paper is devoted to such a systematic comparison. Our starting point is an observation (substantiated by results in the literature) that a bandwidth overhead is incurred by encoding a video stream in layers. We argue that a fair comparison of these schemes needs to take into account this overhead, as well as the specifics of the encoding used in each scheme, protocol complexity, and the topological placement of the video source and the receivers relative to each other. Our results show that the believed superiority of layered multicast transmission relative to replicated stream multicasting is not as clear cut as is widely believed and that there are indeed scenarios where replicated stream multicasting is the preferred approach.