Streaming: What is It, How Does It Work, and What are the Benefits?


Streaming is a continuous transmission of media from a server to an end-user device. It happens in real time after the user makes a request. Streaming a video requires a lot of infrastructure elements: encoders, transcoders, a CDN solution, decoders, and others. It allows a user to watch a video without downloading it on the device.

Video streaming is booming nowadays. People are switching from traditional television to online streaming services for multiple perks. Companies and organizations take advantage of that by generating revenue. Let’s talk about streaming in detail.

What is Video Streaming?

Most of us use streaming every day without thinking about what it is and how it works. We can watch high-quality videos or make video calls through the Internet. And it is what streaming is about. 

Streaming is the ongoing transfer of media files from a server to a receiving device. After a user requests a video or audio to play on an internet-compatible device, the streaming begins. 

It differs from downloading. Downloading means storing a file on a hard drive of a device. A viewer cannot watch the video until it is downloaded completely. With streaming, the video loads a bit of a file and is played simultaneously. There is no copying and storing locally. 

How Does Streaming Work?

To start video streaming, you should have a recorded video file stored on a server. When a user requests a video to play, the video is sent to the device from which the request is made. The video is transmitted in chunks – small pieces of data. 

For exchanging data via the Internet, transmission protocols are required. They are TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol). TCP is a connection-based protocol, while UDP is connectionless. TCP is considered more reliable but slow in data delivery, while UDP is less reliable but quick. 

After the device receives a video, the video player interprets it. Once played, the video files are automatically deleted. 

The quality of streaming depends on the speed of an internet connection. The higher the quality is, the faster data speeds are necessary for smooth playback. Also, the location of a client and a server may slow down the streaming when there is a huge distance between them. If there are many requests sent through the network, the streaming can also degrade. 

On the user side, the problems might be caused by Wi-Fi connection, devices, or lack of bandwidth. 

What are the Benefits of Streaming Online?

No downloading

Viewers don’t need to wait until the video is fully stored on the device. Streaming happens in real time. Once a viewer clicks the play button, the video starts playing. 

Various content formats

Online video streaming allows the transmission of various content formats: live, on-demand, catch-ups, and TV programs. Viewers can choose what is currently suitable for them. For example, live streams allow communication between viewers and a speaker. VOD content is available at any time without a common schedule. Catch-ups allow people to watch scheduled programs they missed.

And a business can choose the one that is suitable for it and its viewers.

Easy access

Viewers can access videos from any devices they want: TVs, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. It provides an opportunity for viewers to choose when, where, and on which devices to watch a video. 

Drawing the Line

Streaming has changed the media industry bringing multiple perks to companies and viewers. A business can create its video streaming service to monetize content, while viewers have the freedom to decide what, when, where, and how to consume. Even  video streaming for the government is also popular.


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