A video standard developed by MPEG group. MPEG-2 is not a successor for MPEG-1, but an addition instead -- both of these formats have their own purposes in life; MPEG-1 is meant for medium-bandwidth usage and MPEG-2 is meant for high-bandwidth/broadband usage. Most commonly MPEG-2 is used in digital TVs, DVD-Videos and in SVCDs. Some Blu-ray films have MPEG-2 transfers but not many as there are better lossy compression formats such as VC-1 or MPEG-4 AVC.
All DVDs are distributed with video in MPEG-2 format, regardless of whether it is PAL or NTSC. Common DVD players are built upon this standard however more and more common are players that can read a multitude of formats.
MPEG-2 is also known by its international standard number, ISO 13818.
MPEG-2 has 7 distinct parts as well. The first part is the Systems section which defines the container format and the Transport Streams that are designed to carry the digital video and audio over ATSC and DVB. The Program Stream defines the container format for lossy compression on optical disks, DVDs and SVCDs.
The second part is the Video section which provides support for Interlaced video and is the format better optimized for bitrates of over 3 mbits.
Part 3 pertains to the audio standard allowing more than 2 channels per encoding.
The final part has to do with MPEG-2 AAC. AAC is more efficient in compression and better audio quality as well.
The maximum bitrate available for MPEG-2 streams are 10.08 Mbit/s and the minimum are 300 kbit/s.
Resolutions that video streams can use, are:
720x480 (NTSC, only with MPEG-2)
720x576 (PAL, only with MPEG-2)
704x480 (NTSC, only with MPEG-2)
704x576 (PAL, only with MPEG-2)
352x480 (NTSC, MPEG-2 & MPEG-1)
352x576 (PAL, MPEG-2 & MPEG-1)
352x240 (NTSC, MPEG-2 & MPEG-1)
352x288 (PAL, MPEG-2 & MPEG-1)