Video Streaming – Is it For Me?

With the right high speed internet service, so many options open up regarding media streaming. Some of the availability includes online radio, internet TV, replay media, cinema downloads and video-sharing services. Music, movies, sports and television shows from all over the world are available through various free and paid services. Music downloads have revolutionized the way the music industry markets to various target groups.

According to Digital Media Wire (January 29, 2009), Netflix, which offers digital distribution of movies as well as blue-ray disc rental, reports that media streaming online is growing at a faster rate than Blu-ray disc technology. A 30% increase in movie-streaming subscribers occurred in one quarter. That’s an astounding jump in new subscriptions. The downside to movie streaming with a provider like Netflix is that generally the best movies are released on DVDs first in order to generate more profits. Many of the “watch immediately” movies were “B” and below movies. Because of this it seems that Netflix’s mail-delivery rental service won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. However, media streaming appears to be moving forward as the technology to watch for the future, and plans are moving forward to make higher quality movies available to the consumer.

Streaming eliminates download wait times – instead, the stream is continuous and plays as soon as it arrives. To avoid the files from taking up tremendous amounts of bandwidth, they usually arrive compressed. Depending on which media player you use and what rate the file is compressed at, the stream time may vary a bit.

A stream is considered either “live” or “on-demand.” A live stream is generated through what is called true streaming, which means information is sent straight from the source to the target without being saved to a hard disk. The stream is then played on either a computer or other device capable of playing the stream. It generally is only available one time (such as during a sporting event or a concert). On demand streaming, which is what services like Netflix uses, is done by progressive streaming. Files are saved to a hard disk and then played from that location. On demand streams are available for an extended period of time.

If streaming technology interests you, two things must be in place – your CPU power and adequate bandwidth capabilities. Both hardware and software for media streaming are evolving at a rapid pace; there are a lot of choices available in terms of configuring adequate CPU power. While shopping for internet providers you will notice that various speeds are available which enable video streaming through their service. Some things that will need to be considered when shopping for bandwidth are: will streaming be live or on-demand? Will you require audio, video, or both? How often do you plan on streaming, and for how long?

Streaming is here to stay, and the technology will continue to improve as the demand continues to grow. Internet service providers continue to evolve as well with technologies and speeds that will keep up with the rapidly changing times.