What is streaming?
Streaming is a transmitting and receiving data method, which allows making its accessible over a computer network. In that connection users of the streaming content (which is usually video and audio content) can play back, pause or do with it whatever they want under real-time conditions.
What is a streaming video?
The process when some video content is taken, and compressed, and displayed on the Internet (not necessarily) to its viewers is called streaming video. To understand the full definition of the term you need to look at another term called â€˜streaming mediaâ€™. To be continuedâ€¦
A video or audio content which is sent over the Internet in its compressed form and is played by its users rather than saved is known as streaming media. Any user can watch or listen to the content without downloading it on a usable device. The content can be played as well as it arrives due to the fact that itâ€™s sent in a continuous stream. Users can do whatever they want with the content: they can pause, rewind it or fast-forward, as well as if they watch or listen to a downloaded video or audio content.
The method is known to be widely used by customers all over the Internet due to such pros as:
- Interactive applications can be used for usersâ€™ convenience in operation. Thus, you can make a personified playlist where there are your favorite films, series and music can be placed for watching or listening to them at any appropriate time you wish;
- What content and for how long is viewed by users can be traced by servicesâ€™ owners. That means that this data can be displayed by the streaming media resources for enhancing the service they provide (but not only for this purpose);
- A reasonable use of bandwidth is provided, as the content uses that part of your traffic that is needed for downloading the part of video or audio content you use at the very moment, which is very useful for those who have Internet access with limited traffic;
- Having played the video on your device it is discarded by the media player. That means that streaming media aims at intellectual properties safeness as all the content watched or listened by a user canâ€™t be further distributed. That makes the politics of intellectual properties work well under an appropriate defense provided by the servicesâ€™ owners.
Usually prerecorded files distribute the video, but such sort of transmission as live broadcast feed also can be used. Before coming up to further explanations letâ€™s have a look at some terms you need to know:
Multicast is a process of so-called â€˜communicationâ€™ which is between a sender (here is a streaming resource) and receivers (here is users). IPv6 is a protocol, which supports such packet type as multicast. In order to receive live video and sound Internet users apply multicast programming. When different parts of the Internet canâ€™t pass the multicast protocol directly, the signals of the multicast are encapsulated as TCP/IP packet.
So, the live video signal we have talked about is transmitted by a Web server as multicast.
A client application used by a user for watching streaming videos is called a media player. If speaking about streaming media, it is passed and broadcasted through the Internet to these special media players. A media player can be presented by several types. It can be browserâ€™s integral part, an additional program or even a dedicated device such as iPod. But most of the resources are run in a built-in flash (known also as do-it-yourself animation software) player.
It is obvious that in spite of the fact that streaming media saves your bandwidth it is dependent on your Internet performance speed a lot. That is why in order to watch or listen to such content smoothly you need a good Internet provider, which gives access to unlimited-speed Internet so that you will not experience any delays or hits.
The process when a video content is compressed and sent over the Internet to be displayed for users is known as video streaming. While using this kind of service it is not necessary for a user to download the content to watch or listen to it. All the process takes place in real time. And this is one of the outstanding pluses of the kind of services.
A special program that uncompresses the content is needed by a user who wants to use the content of the streaming video. The program is known as player and we have already said a few words about the players that receive the content uncompress it and send video to displayers and audio data is sent to speakers. As you remember the most popular player is flash player, which is built into your browser and can be used by your streaming video watching automatically.
MPEG compression algorithm is used by Microsoft in order to make the video appropriate for all the standards. Codec is another name of the program that provides compression and decompression of the video content or audio or any other content. Advanced Streaming Format is allotted to all the Microsoft streaming media files, which is very speed-consuming. And due to the fact that most ISPs have data rates for a connection itâ€™s not very convenient, because you will have to enjoy all the disturbances and hits during the reproduction or displaying of a streaming video.
â€˜Feedâ€™ is known to be a part of a live broadcast. And video can be distributed not only as a prerecorded file, but also as a part of a live broadcast. A Web server, which is able to make multicast (we have mentioned above), transmit a compressed digital signal to multiple users.
Streaming video services:
Being an entertaining source for streaming media, streaming video sources help users to achieve all the conveniences provided by the service owners. An alternative to cable and satellite on demand service is provided by such resources. Fees per view or subscriptions are usually demanded by such sources from the users. Typically cloud-based network is used for the videos transmission. Moreover, the availability of the resources and prices are much varied among those presented on the market of the services today.
Any customer can use several types of devices to support this service. TV-like streaming media receivers, computers, tablets, laptops and even smartphones can be used for this reason. Some of the services are restricted in devices connection or can be developed specially for some specific brand devices. Some of the services are ad-supported but allow using the content for free to its customers.
Due to the high demand in the kind of service there are many examples of streaming media services but we are to look through the most popular ones.
Top streaming services:
First, letâ€™s look at number one service for the US customers called Netflix.
The Netflix streaming service has been improved through the years and now it is one of the top-rated competitors of the market. The Netflix content is paid and a month subscription costs $7,99. Thousand TV shows and movies can be accessed avoiding any limitations having subscribed to the service.
There is also a thirty-day trial version, using which any customer can decide whether to buy a paid content or not. Platforms supported by Netflix are seem to be endless in
recitation. The most well-known from them are Mac, Windows, Android, Windows phone, iPhone and etc. Also the service is compatible with Xbox 360, PS3, SmartTV and etc.
The access to content will doubtlessly suit to every fancy. The most popular shows such as, for example, The Walking Dead, Prison Break, Lost and others can be watched through the streaming service. There are movies such as Parker, End of Watch, Day Off and etc.
Some original shows of the service are also offered. Such as House Of Cards, for instance, is only available for Netflix users.
But there is one small disadvantage of Netflix usage: after a contract with a show or cinema studio has been broken, the service deletes all the content of the show or movies. Another disadvantage is that Netflix is geo-restricted and if you try to get access to the service from outside of the US, you will be dissatisfied to learn that it doesnâ€™t work there. So, if you have subscribed to the service and moved to another country you can deny the subscription or use some additional services, such as a VPN, for example, to get connection to your favorite movies and films.
Another popular streaming service is Hulu.
The Hulu streaming service has both free and paid content. The free content doesnâ€™t provide the client with such a variety of streaming media you can have after subscription for a paid one.
So, having subscribed for a paid variant also known as Hulu Plus you receive a deeper catalogue for your entertainment. While standard Hulu service contains limitations of your accessing, full season series of your favorite shows are presented with the paid one. If you want to watch your favorite video streaming without commercials you will have to pay for it too.
The streaming service (a paid version) can also be used for a larger variety of platforms: game consoles, mobile devices, smart TVs, in a high-quality resolution. According to the variety of streaming content it presents, the service has become an alternative to a viable cable.
The minuses of the service are that sport or news programs are not provided by Hulu. But despite its main competitor Netflix, Hulu has always some prolonged video content to attract the clients for one more month.
One more outstanding streaming service is BBC iPlayer.
The streaming service has been optimized for smart TVs after there has been a shift from PCs to TVs usage for streaming videos. The new version, which is enabled for smart TVs, is practically similar to that you might have used for your PC.
So, being developed to be just-like-TV, the new version has the same options with bigger functionality. It has turned to be easier to find the content you wish with the new version. Moreover, the new iPlayer is developed to be more personalized than the previous one. The interface has been also enhanced and now all the available on the service videos are presented on the first page instead of a big title it used to have before. It is compatible even with PS3 joystick for remote controlling.
But there is something you should think about. BBC iPlayer offers paid content, which is geographically restricted. So, the service is just like its competitors have a demand for license acquisition for its customers.
YouTube as a streaming service is something new despite those two examples we have considered earlier, but still itâ€™s one of the most popular streaming services worldwide.
This service is a video sharing website that contains a lot of uncensored material. But still there are some channels that are worth to be watched. So, the videos on the website can be not aged appropriately, so if you have children itâ€™s better to take the matter in hand. Still there are some terms to be followed by any of the YouTube active user desiring to put on some video. Surely, YouTube provides users-made content being a sort of a â€˜social netâ€™ at the same time.
Commercial and educational programs, music video clips, scientific channels and even home-made clips can be found on the streaming service. The only minus is that this is you who will censor and choose the channels and content to watch.
YouTube offer some paid content for these purposes. There are You Tube Kids and You Tube Gaming and YouTube Music. You Tube Red for $9, 99 per month can be also subscribed by you if you want some additional facilities.
As the content of the streaming service is free you can find here whatever you want and access it for free, but still YouTube has some limitations in use too. The fact is that some governments ban access to the service for their citizens who use the Internet. The reasons for that are multiple but the main of them is that these countries want to save the political regime that has been proclaimed in the country or social values (mostly religious). In order to get access to the service from China or India or UAE countries you need a qualitative VPN, with the help of which you are able to shift your virtual location and hide your internet activities from the state ISPs.
Amazon (Instant) Video is a one more popular streaming service.
A great amount of television and movie content can be downloaded and streamed by you through Amazon Video usage.
The service is compatible with Windows, smart TVs, game consoles, mobile devices and etc. The service provides paid content but the prices are pretty law if compared to some other services.
The channel has been steadily improved during the years and now a nice programming variety can be found there. In order not to sink in the thousand of hundreds of shows and movies, Amazon service developers have created a special convenient interface. A program or show can be looked for by using the search box, or product categories of the website, or genre, data of release or some other categories. It also has become easier to navigate.
And the last streaming resource for today consideration is Spotify.
It is known as one of the most resistible towards the competitorsâ€™ services. It is also majorly considered as music streaming service and thus is associated by some experts with such music services as Pandora radio and etc.
Spotify can be accessed by a PC in two different ways: you need to have a web player or a desktop app, which can be downloaded for Windows, Linux and Mac.
While using Spotify as a music streaming service you can create individual play lists.
There are two packages free and premium Spotify. The free version contains commercials and some other limitations. The paid content will cost you $9, 99 per month while giving you a possibility to select and hear albums before their physical release. You can also use cache songs for offline play back. But the service also provides a Family Plan for $14, 99 per month, which is very cheap. Twenty million songs are placed on the Spotify playlist including audio books, comedies, radio dramas, poetry and speeches.
Thus we have reviewed different streaming services, including streaming video and even audio services.
Streaming video quality/devices
Top-rated video streaming software is needed for transmitting a video of a high quality to such a large audience as Internet customers. This is one more reason why you should choose a good streaming video device.
A streaming content can be watched on your TV in many ways. Built-in streaming services have to be built in your smart gadget or you can use a game console for that
reason, because, as we have mentioned, the most popular streaming video services are compatible with game consoles.
Moreover, you need an appropriate player for that reason to be installed on your device. As we have said, the most popular from the players used for streaming video is a flash player. There are some top devices considered by some experts to be the best solutions of the up-to-date market among them are Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and etc.
Despite the fact that streaming video services are filled with various possibilities for our entertainment, there are some undesirable problems one may face while using the services.
It is probably one of the main problems of the sphere. The reason is that more and more governments are eager to follow the politics of strict censorship, which definitely means some uncontrolled consequences for the citizens using the Internet there.
In this regard such countries as China have developed firewalls, which block access to most Internet sites and resources. Thus, if you want to use some of the streaming services there you need to have a good VPN to solve the problem.
Moreover, such countries as India and UAE have implied a fine for accessing to the restricted websites, which can also lead to imprisonment.
Moreover, many of the streaming services we have been talking about have geo-restrictions for their customers too. This means, for example, that Netflix can be used only in the US. That can lead to a bad surprise when moving to another country or being abroad.
But there s one tested measure one can take in order to avoid all the difficulties. A good VPN service can help you with accessing to your favorite streaming service without paying attention to any restrictions in any country of the world.
Paid content and licensing
Another problem is that many of the service allow using free version for a limited period or with commercials there. It can be especially annoying when such services provide incomplete video or audio material. Fortunately, the price for a full access to the content is not so much or you can always use such services as YouTube the main content of which is free. But donâ€™t forget about censorship policies and, if to be more
precise, their absence. So, if you have a child itâ€™s better to make him avoid the website or choose a paid content of the service developed specially for children.
As it has been already mentioned, unfortunately, some countries deprive their citizens from Internet freedom by following the politics of total censoring. That is why for some people using some additional services, such as proxy servers or VPNs is inevitable.
Privacy, security and anonymity
If you remember when talking about streaming media we have told that such information as what kind of content and for how long is available for viewing by the streaming media resources for enhancing the service they provide. But if speaking about those countries with a rough censorship it hardly deals with enhancement of the service, but rather with committing an eavesdropping on their citizens.
Moreover, having subscribed for a paid content itâ€™s hardly imaginable that you are to offer some unknown users to use the license or subscription for their needs without your will. Thus you should be extra attentive while choosing a password and logging.
When talking about such streaming service as YouTube you should remember that when creating a channel for your needs you should be extra responsible, otherwise your account can be cracked by some adversaries and some disgusting data can be posted on your behalf.