Various on-demand TV and movie services that have appeared in recent years have introduced new terminology for many of us who are not tech savvy and who are just beginning to explore the vast uncharted territories known as the world web. One term that is practically a household term is streaming. The concept of transmission is not new. Radio and television are broadcast. Streaming is, simply put, a delivery method for the media. We can stream anything that can be digitized, including music, movies, sports, and TV shows.
One statistic that may surprise many people is that 30% of all internet traffic today comes solely from Netflix streams. And over-the-top (OTT) media consumption from distributors like Netflix, Hulu Plus and SuperPass is projected to increase by 60% in the next two years.
To clarify, there are two types of video streaming: live and on demand. The live broadcast is viewed on the Internet simultaneously as the event is captured and digitally encoded by a camera. Progressive streaming is the type of streaming used by OTT streaming providers. Videos on demand are compressed files that are delivered by a streaming server. When an end user wants to stream a movie, for example, they will select the movie and click a play button. The OTT provider will deliver the requested movie through specialized software called a streaming server. The streaming server will evaluate what is happening in the end user’s media player and make adjustments called buffering to ensure a good viewing experience. The streamed content is not saved on the end user’s hard drive. Once the content is streamed, it cannot be accessed again unless the file is requested again from the streaming service provider.
Besides streaming, there is another delivery method for these compressed files, which is called download. When you buy a movie, song, or TV show, you download the file from a web server (rather than a streaming server) and save the file somewhere where you can access it whenever you want, usually on your hard drive. . Generally, at least part of the download must be complete before you can begin viewing content without interruption.
Downloads can be rentals or purchases. If it is a rental, the OTT provider generally gives a specific period of time from the time of the rental to view the content before the file is deleted. It is important to note that downloaded files can contain viruses and malware, so be sure to trust whatever source you download a file from.
Media players can take many forms when you stream or view your downloaded purchase. If you watch the content on your computer, you will probably be using the media player that comes with your operating system, or you can download a free or premium media player recommended by your streaming service provider. If you want to watch television on your television, you will need to use a game console, a Blu-ray player, a television with Internet access, or a streaming media player that is connected to your television and your home wireless network. It is important to make sure that your OTT provider supports the media player you want to use.
Without a doubt, streaming is here to stay as part of our entertainment options. See how technology continues to improve and more options are available to consumers.