Live Streaming: What It Is and How It Works?

Streaming is the quickest way to access Internet-based content, but it's not the only way. Progressive download is another option that was used for years before streaming was possible. The key differences between progressive download and streaming are when you can start using the content and what happens to the content after you're done with it.


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Live Streaming: What It Is and How It Works?
Live Streaming: What It Is and How It Works?

Live Streaming: What It Is and How It Works?

 Published on December 5, 2018 and last modified on 3 months ago

Live Streaming is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner;[clarification needed] the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.

A client end-user can use their media player to start playing the digital video content or listens to digital audio content before the entire file has been transmitted. Distinguishing delivery method from the media distributed applies specifically to telecommunications networks, as most of the delivery systems are either inherently streaming (e.g. radio, television, streaming apps) or inherently non-streaming (e.g. books, video cassettes, audio CDs). For example, in the 1930s, elevator music was among the earliest popularly available streaming media; nowadays Internet television is a common form of streaming media. The term "streaming media" can apply to media other than video and audio such as live closed captioning, ticker tape, and real-time text, which are all considered "streaming text".

Live streaming is the delivery of Internet content in real-time, as events happen, much as live television broadcasts its contents over the airwaves via a television signal. Live internet streaming requires a form of source media (e.g. a video camera, an audio interface, screen capture software), an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content delivery network to distribute and deliver the content. Live streaming does not need to be recorded at the origination point, although it frequently is.

There are challenges with streaming content on the Internet. If the user does not have enough bandwidth in their Internet connection, they may experience stops, lags or slow buffering in the content and some users may not be able to stream certain content due to not having compatible computer or software systems.

Some popular streaming services include the video-sharing website YouTube, Twitch and Mixer, which live stream the playing of video games; Netflix and Amazon Video, which stream movies and TV shows; and Spotify, Apple Music, and TIDAL, which stream music.

History

In the early 1920s, George O. Squier was granted patents for a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines which were the technical basis for what later became Muzak, a technology streaming continuous music to commercial customers without the use of radio. Attempts to display media on computers dating back to the earliest days of computing in the mid-20th century.

However, little progress was made for several decades, primarily due to the high cost and limited capabilities of computer hardware. From the late 1980s through the 1990s, consumer-grade personal computers became powerful enough to display various media. The primary technical issues related to streaming were: having enough CPU power and bus bandwidth to support the required data rates and creating low-latency interrupt paths in the operating system to prevent buffer underrun and thus enable skip-free streaming of the content. However, computer networks were still limited in the mid-1990s, and audio and video media were usually delivered over non-streaming channels, such as by downloading a digital file from a remote server and then saving it to a local drive on the end user's computer or storing it as a digital file and playing it back from CD-ROMs.

The late 1990s – early 2000s

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, users had increased access to computer networks, especially the Internet, and especially during the early 2000s, users had access to increased network bandwidth, especially in the "last mile". These technological improvements facilitated the streaming of audio and video content to computer users in their homes and workplaces.

As well, there was an increasing use of standard protocols and formats, such as TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, and the Internet became increasingly commercialized, which led to an infusion of investment into the sector. The band Severe Tire Damage was the first group to perform live on the Internet. On June 24, 1993, the band was playing a gig at Xerox PARC while elsewhere in the building, scientists were discussing new technology (the Mbone) for broadcasting on the Internet using multicasting.

As proof of PARC's technology, the band's performance was broadcast and could be seen live in Australia and elsewhere. In a March 2017 interview, band member Russ Haines stated that the band had used approximately "half of the total bandwidth of the internet" to stream the performance, which was a 152-by-76 pixel video, updated eight to twelve times per second, with audio quality that was "at best, a bad telephone connection".

Microsoft Research developed a Microsoft TV application which was compiled under MS Windows Studio Suite and tested in conjunction with Connectix QuickCam. RealNetworks was also a pioneer in the streaming media markets when it broadcast a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners over the Internet in 1995. The first symphonic concert on the Internet took place at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington on November 10, 1995.

The concert was a collaboration between The Seattle Symphony and various guest musicians such as Slash (Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees). When Word Magazine launched in 1995, they featured the first-ever streaming soundtracks on the Internet.[citation needed]

Metropolitan Opera Live in HD is a program in which the Metropolitan Opera streams an opera performance "live", as the performance is taking place. In 2013–2014, 10 operas were transmitted via satellite into at least 2,000 theaters in 66 countries.

Requirements for Streaming Content

Streaming requires a relatively fast internet connection – just how fast depends on the type of media you are streaming. A speed of 2 megabits per second (Mbps) or more is necessary for streaming standard definition video without skips, reductions in quality, or buffering delays. HD and 4K content require higher speeds for flawless delivery: at least 5 Mbps for HD content and 9 Mbps for 4K content.

Problems With Streaming

Because streaming delivers data as you need it, slow or interrupted internet connections can cause problems. For example, if you have streamed only the first 30 seconds of a song and your internet connection drops before any more of the song have streamed to your device, the song stops playing.

The most common streaming error that crops up has to do with buffering. The buffer is a program's temporary memory that stores the streamed content. The buffer is always filling up with the content you need next. For example, if you watch a movie, the buffer stores the next few minutes of video while you're watching the current content. If your internet connection is slow, the buffer won't fill up quickly enough, and the stream either stops or the quality of the audio or video is reduced to compensate.

Examples of Streaming Apps and Content

Streaming is used most often in music, video and radio apps.

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