Yes, Internet is a step forward from network television, but now and then, surfing will resemble choosing from different video channels. Television networks stream many popular episodes and movies online, but also short clips are included almost anywhere on the sites and online courses are soaring in numbers, as well as webcasts, webinars, video chats. The streaming video technology on the internet came a long way from popping up progress bars or buffering statuses on your screen. Speedier internet connections, enhanced decoders and plugins, better equipped computer machines, all contribute to putting the fun back to streaming video online.
Video Streaming Process Simplified
End user selects a type of file to be watched on the computer, either .mov, .rm, .wmv, .flv or more, he owns a player such as QuickTime, RealMedia, AdobeFlash or similar, and uses a web browser plugin, in order to successfully stream a video. The copy of the video never actually exists on the end user computer. Only fragments of data are displayed as they arrive, and are immediately discarded as the streaming files.
For all this, a streaming server and real-time protocols are used. The web server sends the selected file to watch to the streaming server, which in turn sends back the selected file directly to you in real time, using either a real time protocol (RTP), a real-time streaming protocol (RTSP), or a real-time transport control protocol (RTCP).
Instead of a streaming server, the streaming service can be rented from a streaming service providers who will then host the video “on the cloud”.
Image 1 – How Streaming Video and Audio Works
Image source: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/streaming-video-and-audio1.htm
All the time, your standalone player (QuickTime, RealMedia…) decodes and displays the streaming data as it arrives, and gets rid of all the unnecessary data afterwards.
Streamed files will always somewhat differ from the original (raw) file, but if the loading is done well and the round trip of data is minimized, the user shouldn’t even notice. The raw video files are compressed and decompressed constantly during the streaming, and usually played in a smaller frame, so the lowering of the quality is avoided. Also, a lower frame rate is sometimes used, i.e. how quickly images move from one to the next, but the streamed files should never flicker. Ideally, video will look and sound good, but be minimized in format and delivered as quickly as possible.
Popularity of Video Streaming
Worldwide revenues from mobile TV and video services are expected to reach $9.5 billion in 2017, up from $4.5 billion in 2013. The demand is growing with the appearance of mobile markets, as mobile devices account for 10% of all global online video plays. Also, 25% of viewing time of streaming video on tablets, for example, is spent with content over 60 minutes long, according to Global Video Index (2013). Time spent streaming will thus often outpace the number of streamers. The amount of digital content we consume is always on the increase, and apparently, livestream is the most powerful online video broadcast solution available.
In a need to satisfy this live streaming video demand, vendors are more and more turning to content delivery networks for the video delivery, because this technology hosts the streamed files on the cloud, packets scattered among many surrogate streaming servers around the world, and served to user from the server nearest to him. The varying round-trip of streamed data is thus minimized and the compressing/decompressing methods optimized, and this is top streaming service that can be rented for a monthly fee. Video content delivery is the largest contributor to commercial CDN revenue.