How Does Video Streaming Work?

How Does Video Streaming Work?

In the past, if you wanted to watch a video, you needed a physical disk. Now, you can watch a video that is streamed to your television via a service like Netflix. Or, if you want to watch a live presentation, it can be live-streamed to your television, computer, mobile phone, or other device that can receive streaming video in real time.

Streaming video has changed the way we work and play, and many people are asking, “How does video streaming work?” We’re going to answer that question for you.

Table of Contents

  1. How Does Video Streaming Work?
  2. When to Use Streaming Video
  3. Why Viostream?

How Does Video Streaming Work?

Video streaming occurs when a server sends video files to a client. The client can be a television, personal computer, or mobile device. The key characteristic is that the client doesn’t need to store the video file. The server keeps the file and uses the internet to transmit chunks of it at a time to the receiving client.

Prerecorded and Stored Video

Netflix is an example of a business that uses prerecorded video streaming to let its customers watch a wide variety of shows on their televisions. The television doesn’t need to have a large amount of storage to hold all the shows a customer wants to view. The shows are stored in a Netflix server and streamed over to the customer’s television.

Live Streaming

Live streaming is another important use for streaming video. You can watch a presentation or event as it happens in real time while they broadcast the footage over the internet to your devices. Your device doesn’t need to store the video stream; it simply plays when it reaches you.

The Advantage of Video Streaming Over Downloading

If consumers were required to download Netflix shows, there probably wouldn’t be a Netflix. When you download a video, the playback can’t start until the entire file is downloaded. The time it would take to download a standard feature film would vary depending on your internet speed. But, in today’s world, that delay would be too long to satisfy most people.

That’s why video streaming is so popular. You can go to Netflix, pick a movie, and start watching almost immediately. As you watch, the Netflix server continues to send the video a few seconds at a time to your television.

Video streaming also makes it possible to watch events as they happen using live streaming. If you had to download the video after the event was over, live streaming would never have been invented.

The Streaming Process

Streaming files must start as large high-quality files because the compression process that makes a video into a streaming video reduces its quality. Before the streaming process begins, the video file is stored on the server if necessary. When a client calls for a video file, the server uses an analog-to-digital converter to convert the file into digital data. The data is compressed and stored in its compressed digital state, and then the streaming process begins to send small packets of data to the client.

As your computer receives the data, it stores the information in a buffer, which it then decodes and decompresses. At that point, a digital-to-analog converter in your PC turns the data back into a video you can see on your screen. In the final step, your computer discards the data.

What Can Slow Down a Streaming Video?

The speed of streaming video is affected when networks experience delays. Slowdowns also occur when there is too much traffic on the network. In those situations, streaming video can experience buffering, meaning that there isn’t enough data in the buffer to provide a continuous stream. There can also be problems on the client side if the client's network isn’t fast enough to keep up with the video stream. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are used to alleviate these types of problems because they reduce or eliminate network delays and buffering.

When to Use Streaming Video

In today’s business world, streaming video has become a critical tool for a number of use cases.


If you’re in Marketing, you’ll find that streaming video is effective in engaging prospective customers. Research and surveys have demonstrated that people love videos. For example, 96% of people have watched a video to learn about a product or service, and 86% of people want brands to produce more videos. Businesses are even successfully using live streaming video on TikTok. You can also use live streaming video to broadcast a presentation or demonstration to prospects in real time.

In addition, marketers are using video analytics to determine the success of their content. It is possible to see which videos are capturing the most attention to guide future marketing strategy.

Learning and Development

Those responsible for learning and development also find streaming videos critical to achieving their mission. Again, the statistics tell the story:

  • Information retention for video content is 65% versus 10% for text
  • Audio-visual aids increase understanding by up to 74%
  • 65% of the population are visual learners

You can use live streaming to broadcast a training session in real time. You can also use prerecorded video if you want to provide training that can happen anywhere, any time, and on any device. In the corporate world, that type of flexibility helps learning teams meet their goals without extensive interruption in the workflow.

Corporate Communications

Corporate communication teams use video to improve internal communications and to keep employees engaged. Live streaming video is invaluable when you want employees in different geographic locations to hear the same message at the same time. And, prerecorded video has its place to communicate information that isn’t time sensitive.

When employees are engaged and informed, they perform more effectively. Retention rates increase and churn declines, which contributes to bottom-line results. Video is a useful technique for management to connect with employees - especially since only 48% of employees open emails related to internal communications.

How Viostream Works with Streaming

Viostream is a leading enterprise-grade video platform for government and business. Key features include:

  • A user-friendly console that lets you take total control of managing users, creating security profiles, handling third-party integrations, and more.
  • Easy-to-use live streaming for events such as town hall meetings, department updates, training sessions, and webinars. Our robust capabilities use Global CDN distribution.
  • Branded galleries for better brand identification and awareness.
  • Comprehensive viewer reporting lets you know who is watching your videos, the most common drop-off points, and more.

Contact our customer support team to learn more about how Viostream's professional video hosting platform can help improve your business communications today.

Begin your free trial
We can make your videos work smarter, not harder. Start your free 14-day trial of Viostream.
video quality comparison visualTry Viostream for free
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.
Table of contents

    Related Posts

    Pre-Recorded vs. Live Video: The Battle of the Video Formats

    Pre-Recorded vs. Live Video: The Battle of the Video Formats

    What are the differences between pre-recorded vs. live videos? Which format should you incorporate into your communications strategy?

    The Best Brightcove Alternatives for 2021

    The Best Brightcove Alternatives for 2021

    These are the best video streaming platform alternatives to Brightcove for publishing videos in 2021 and beyond.

    Why Is Internal Communications Important?
    Corporate Communication

    Why Is Internal Communications Important?

    Your internal communications strategy can make or break your business. Find out how to make it as strong as possible.