How Does Streaming Work?

How Does Streaming Work?

When the internet first exploded with consumer use in the late 1990s, people were still running it with a modem hooked up to the computer and a phone line to dial the number for their local internet service provider. Connections were slow, and loading even the most basic websites was often clunky and frustrating.

The first live audio streaming event took place on September 5, 1995 — a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. But between annoyingly slow connections and quirky software, no one would have had the patience to sit down and watch a movie on their computer.

Just a few years later, however, technologies for streaming video and audio improved drastically, and it became more of an everyday occurrence. Today, companies like Netflix and Hulu play TV shows and movies on demand, and tech giants like Apple and Amazon have started their own video streaming networks. You've probably participated in a live-streaming broadcast yourself, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown when many people spent months attended remote meetings on Zoom, Google Meet, and Facetime from their home offices and dining room tables.

With its rising popularity, you might be wondering: How does streaming work? Whether you’re interested in streaming events and conferences at the office, or wondering how to create content to stream for others, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

What Is Streaming?

Today, anyone with a fast enough internet connection can watch movies or place a video call over the internet. Both cases illustrate the streaming process.

Streaming is the continuous transmission of audio or video files from a streaming platform to a client. Anytime you watch TV or listen to podcasts on internet-connected devices, you are streaming. Instead of sending the entire media file to your device, the file remains stored remotely on the platform and transmitted a few seconds at a time over the internet.

What Is the Difference Between Streaming and Downloading?

Streaming happens in real-time, and it is much more efficient than downloading media files. If you download a video file, you are saving a copy of the entire file on your device’s hard drive, and the video can’t play until the entire file finishes downloading. If you stream it, your browser can play the video without actually copying and saving it. The video loads a little at a time instead of the entire file loading at once. Because the video is never saved locally, this also saves you room on your hard drive.

How Does Streaming Work?

Anytime data is sent over the internet, it is broken down into smaller chunks as opposed to sending it all at once. Audio and video streaming works the same way. Each chunk of data contains a small piece of the file. The audio or video player in the browser on a device receives these pieces in a steady stream and reads them as video or audio. That way, viewers can easily live stream conferences, virtual meetings, and more.

What Do You Need to Start Streaming?

Streaming TV is simple and inexpensive to set up. Chances are, you won’t even need to purchase any new equipment, but even if you do, it shouldn’t cost much. Here’s what you need:

Fast Internet

A good streaming experience begins with an ideal internet connection. To stream videos in standard definition (SD), at least 3 Mbps is recommended. To stream videos in high definition (HD), at least 5 Mbps is recommended. To stream videos in HDR or 4K, at least 25 Mbps is recommended.

Streaming Devices

Once you have a solid internet connection, you need a way to access streaming services. You can do this via one of the following:

  • Streaming Devices: Streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV plug into your TV's HDMI port and give you access to tons of different streaming services. Streaming devices give you access to more streaming services than other methods, and they tend to have a more user-friendly interface and search system.
  • Smart TVs: Smart TVs are the most popular way to access streaming services. In fact, 31% of Americans use this method. Smart TVs connect to the internet and have streaming apps built-in.
  • Gaming Consoles: Gaming consoles are another popular method of streaming. They are great to use if you happen to own one already, but it’s not worth the added expense just to stream video.
  • Smartphones and Computers: Smartphones and computers are a simple way to connect to streaming services on the go. About 30% of the population watches premium video on their phones on a weekly basis. And essentially every computer is capable of streaming video, which means you really don't need to purchase a special device for streaming unless you want a specific high-end experience (4K, surround sound, etc.).

How Viostream Can Help

There’s no doubt that video is one of the most powerful tools businesses can use today. Publishing and streaming videos can draw in large audiences for your company.

With a focus on security and helping you build a strong internal communication structure, Viostream offers video streaming platforms that can help you improve communication, education, and more. You can also take advantage of Viostream’s live-streaming video capabilities and branded video pages to create a rewarding and high-end experience for your customers, employees, and stakeholders.

Start your free trial today and explore your video possibilities.

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Paul Vecchiato
Paul Vecchiato
Paul Vecchiato (Chief Technology Officer) is an experienced technology professional with over 15 years experience in developing and delivering complex web applications across a wide variety of industries.
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