What is video streaming and how does it work?

  • Back in the day, websites were made with just images and text. However, faster internet connections available nowadays allow website owners to stream video content to visitors. If you are looking forward to getting the most out of streaming, you should have a basic understanding on what it is. Continue to read, and we’ll share the facts that you need to be aware of.

    What exactly is video streaming? 
    Video streaming is nothing but continuous transmission of video or audio files from a server to a visitor. In other words, streaming would happen when you watch TV or go through a podcast on a device connected to the internet. Along with the help of video streaming, there’s a possibility to play media files directly on the client device. Data is transmitted over the internet in the form of few seconds at a time.

    Is streaming different from downloading? 
    Yes, streaming is different from downloading. Streaming is something that happens in real time. Downloading is where you completely download the file to your device and watch it. However, there is no need to download the file when you are streaming. 

    When you download a video file, you will be able to see it saved within your hard drive. However, you will not be able to play even a second of that video without downloading the complete file. But if you stream the same video, you can allow your web browser to play the video without downloading the entire file or saving it on the device. In fact, the video would continue to load a little bit at a time. When your browser is loading the video, it will not be saved locally.

    To get a better understanding of streaming, you should take a look at the differences that exist in between a stream and a lake. Both a stream and a lake has water. In fact, a stream can have the same amount of water as a lake. However, water in a stream does not remain at the same place. This is pretty much similar to a video stream.

    However, a downloaded file is similar to a lake. It will require lots of hard drive space on your device for you to download the video. 

    How does video streaming work? 
    As you already know, data is sent over the internet in the form of data packages. A video comes to your web browser from the server via data packets as well. In each data packet, you can discover a small fil. It can be a video player or an audio player. Your device will take the exact flow of data packets and would interpret them as audio or video.

    There are multiple technologies used for video streaming. UDP and TCP hold a prominent place out of them. UDP refers to User Datagram Protocol. Likewise, TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol. Both these ae transport protocols. In other words, they are capable of moving data packets across a network. Moreover, both these methods are using Internet Protocol for data transmission.

    The difference between UDP and TCP is that TCP would open up a dedicated communication channel before it transmits data. Hence, you can make sure that all the data packets are coming to you in proper order. UDP is not using any of these things. Due to the same reason, you may call TCP as a more reliable option available to consider. However, transmitting data through UDP would not require a lot of time.  In other words, UDP is quicker when compared to TCP. However, several data packets will go missing as they are being transferred to your device.

    You can consider TCP as a package delivery service. As the customer, you will need to sign and accept the package. However, UDP Is pretty much a delivery service, which will leave the packages in front of your front door. There won’t be a knock on the door, and you don’t have to sign it. The TCP service will lose some data packets as well, but it not so prominent. When it comes to UDP, data packets can easily get dropped due to faster delivery.

    When it comes to streaming, you will need to pay more attention to both reliability and delivery. However, it would still vary depending on your situation. For example, when you are taking part in a video conference, you will come across the need to interact with the other attended in real time, instead of waiting until all data packets are delivered. However, losing few data packets would not be a major concern for you. This is where you should be using UDP. You will need to pay special attention to reliability when you are streaming content. Most on-demand video streaming services available out there tend to use TCP for data transfer.

    What is buffering? 
    When it comes to video streaming, you will often have to deal with buffering as well. Hence, you need to be aware of what buffering is all about as well. The streaming media players would load few seconds of the video stream in advance. This will ensure that both audio and video can continue to play, even if your internet connection gets interrupted. This process is called as buffering. Buffering would make sure that your videos are being played continuously and smoothly. But when it comes to slower connections, and if the network has a latency, a video stream can take a considerable amount of extra time to buffer. This is why you should have a sufficient internet speed to get the most out of video streaming.

    What are the reasons behind buffering? 
    Reasons behind buffering can either be on the network side or on the user side. Let’s take a deep dive and learn more about them.

    -    Network side problems 
    Network latency is the most prominent issue behind buffering. However, network latency can happen due to multiple reasons. The most prominent reason out of them is the place where content is stored. Moreover, network congestion can also lead you to buffering. If there is too much of network congestion, your streaming performance will be negatively impacted.

    -    User side problems
    Issues with the Wi-Fi connection can lead you to buffering. This is where you can try to reset the LAN router. You can also think about connecting your device to internet via the Ethernet cable, instead of using Wi-Fi. This will help you to enhance overall streaming performance. 

    The processing capabilities of your device can also create an impact on your buffering experiences. It requires your device to have a decent processing power to accept data packets and process them before playing on the device. 
    There should be enough bandwidth available to stream video content as well. In general, you will need to have a bandwidth of at least 4 Mbps, so that you can stream a high-definition video on your computer.

    Can I make my video streams faster? 
    If you are dealing with slow video streaming speeds, you will come across the need to speed them up. This is where you can think about using a quality video streaming panel with a host. Then you can make sure that clients can easily access your content on the server and play on their devices. 

    Another great thing that you can do to increase the performance of streams is to distribute content via CDN (Content Delivery Network). If people from all around the world are connecting to your video stream, this is something that you can do. From numerous studies, it has been identified that CDNs can create a major positive impact on the performance of streaming. 

    Why is streaming so popular? 
    Streaming is one of the most popular technologies that you can find out there as of now. It started gaining attention in between 2000 and 2010. However, streaming is popular like never before due to fast internet connections available. YouTube is the most popular video streaming platform available out there as of now.

    There are multiple streaming providers and platforms available. For example, you can see popular video streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Now, and Netflix. The market share of these streaming services is increasing day by day.

    Live streaming is quite popular as well. We can see how broadcasters live stream both video and audio. Award shows, sports events, product launches, and global conferences are usually streamed. Moreover, we can also see how people stream real-time news and gaming experiences. It is even possible to stream content over social media channels as of now.

    Do I need to pay for streaming? 
    If you are a client, you will not usually have to pay for free streams. However, you will need to make a payment in order to gain access to paid streams. For example, if you are trying to pay for premium TV shows and movies such as Netflix, you will need to pay for them. There is usually a monthly subscription that you have to bear in order to access the stream. The streaming platforms or service providers would define the amount that you have to pay in order to access the stream.