What is streaming video? How does it work?

stream app entertainment

The word “Streaming” is self-descriptive. Streaming is method of viewing video or listening to music or audio content real time without downloading. A continuous transmission of audio or video files from server to client happens in Streaming. When the media files are played the on the client device are stored remotely and are transmitted in seconds time over the internet. Unlike the downloaded files users can Pause, fast forward and rewind in streaming unless it is live.

Difference between Streaming & Downloading


  • Media files are accessed from server, provider or another device
  • Data is continuously used while streaming any media file. Hence more data is used.
  • No external space is required to store the files and the media is played continuously.
  • Typically content buffers for few seconds depending on the speed of the internet though buffering doesn’t happen all the time


  • Media files are downloaded to another device, hard disk etc
  • Data is used once while downloading. Once downloaded the media file plays without using any data. Media can be played any number of times.
  • No buffering is involved but you will require to wait till the download is complete
  • Media can be transferred from one device to another depending on the copyright of the content.

How streaming works?

Media is broken into data packets in streaming. As the streaming starts, server starts sending the packets. The audio or the video player in the browser on the client device takes the flow of the packets and the audio or the video streams. For example, your computer or phone receives the beginning of the movie, you will start to watch the movie. As the movie continues the rest of the data get transmitted.

We have heard of many live streaming companies, for all these companies to stream the content they require server or cloud platforms to store the content. Big companies have their own content delivery network (CDN), a global network of storage servers store the cache content so it is quickly accessible. Having CDN will reduce the latency and bandwidth costs. Third party live streaming solution providers are available in the market to store the cache content of the companies.

The continuous flow of the media depends on the reliability of the internet with sufficient speed so that there is no buffer of the video that is played for the users. Minimum speed should be at least 2Mbps/sec for a good streaming experience without any buffer or low quality. When the connection is slow we see too many pauses, while the buffering happens on the device. Users have been casting and streaming online videos to their TV screens now a days.

There are different ways to stream videos

Streaming: The videos which are already shot and produced are uploaded to a video hosting platform.

VOD: Referred as Video On Demand. The users chooses what content they want to watch on demand. 3 types of VOD platforms are AVOD (Ad), SVOD (Subscription) and TVOD (Transactional).

Live Streaming: The videos are recorded and broadcasted in real time.

Streaming live video is useful in many ways. Consider any sport, not all the people will be able to attend the sport. Live streaming of the event brings great attraction for the people who are unable to attend. Wide range of live streaming solutions are available in the market to meet the business broadcasting needs. Lot of households these days are using OTT (Over the top) services which provides the live video. The number of OTT users in the world is growing rapidly every year. Among the best software for live streaming you will find Castr. This tool adapts to a wide range of online broadcasting formats, focusing on providing personalized experiences and content.

Online video streaming has become popular in most of the industries like Education, Music events, Government sports etc. as it helps in reaching global audience instantly. Since the technology is improving live video streaming has become easier, less affordable compared to few years ago. Anyone can watch the live around the world barriers being language and time zones. While watching a live stream specific website is visited by the user that is hosted on a web server. Using real time protocol (RTP) and real time streaming protocol (RTSP) the media server beams the content to your device. The files are sent in a compressed form and while viewing these are viewed in high quality (decompressed) form on your device.

Actual files are never received in live streaming as data is temporarily stored and displays the small amount of data on your device and then discards them as you continue to watch. Most of us use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on your mobile devices these social media have the live streaming elements as Facebook Live, Twitter live and Instagram Live.

Importance of live streaming

  • The level of interaction and engagement that is offered is high compared to any other market marketing strategies. Real time interaction is involved in live streaming
  • Videos or the content that are used in live streaming can be reused for website for marketing and brand awareness
  • Engaging the people who care about you, your brand and people who find your content extremely useful, which means right people are targeted who are more likely to convert and follow you further.
  • It is cheap if you see, no special equipment is required. All it needs is a smartphone or a computer with camera, good internet connection and a platform to stream.

Security risks of live streaming video

  • Using unique passwords for the accounts helps from hacking the personal details as we provide our personal information like email id, contact number bank details etc at the time of registration.
  • Keeping the data safe across the digital landscape is very important. Not all the streaming sites are secured and reputed.
  • Before registering with any of the live streaming solutions you should look into the signs of unsafe websites and protect from malicious downloads and viruses.
  • Not downloading files doesn’t mean that there are no risks. You need to ensure that the site is legitimate and the content in it is licensed


New technologies emerge and old ones die out. We need to look out new forms of reaching customers and build business. Live streaming solution is one of that as it accessible easily to anyone in the world.

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Colleen Sylvia is a technology enthusiast and an avid travel writer. Her work has been praised by various CXOs, CIOs of several technology giants and has also been a guest contributor to leading websites. She does her best writing on technology trends, OTT platform providers like Phando, entertainment, healthcare and travel beats. Colleen Sylvia loves to cook when she is not writing.