What is streaming video or audio?
Streaming video or audio is video (as on television) or sound (as on the radio) delivered over the Internet via a modem or broadband connection.
Why is it called "streaming"?
It’s called “streaming” because the sound and picture data flow in a digital stream from a server computer to your computer, ready to hear or view in real time, without having to download all of the content before you can enjoy it. It comes to you in a stream of digital bits… hence the term “streaming.”
What kinds of streaming audio or video are there?
There are 6 main streaming media companies (with their media streams):
Adobe (with Flash/Shockwave)
Microsoft (with Windows Media and Silverlight - audio and video)
Real Networks (with RealMedia, RealVideo and RealAudio)
Apple (with QuickTime)
MoveNetworks (with MoveMediaPlayer)
Nullsoft Streaming Video (.nsv) and Shoutcast, IceCast (GNU GPL/Open Source version of Shoutcast), Live365 streaming audio
All streaming media player work in Windows, some of them also work in Mac OS and Linux. Free players are available for all streaming formats.
What difference does it make if content is streamed, rather than downloaded?
Audio and video files can be very large. You would spend many minutes or even hours waiting for them to be downloaded to your computer if they weren’t streamed. Streaming media technology allows you to see or hear the content in just a few seconds, instead of having to wait for it. Your only wait is a few seconds for a “buffer” to be built up that helps avoid interruptions caused by Internet traffic problems.
In the majority of cases streaming media is used to maintain control over the distribution of the media files (because it is difficult to capture streaming video and audio).
What special equipment do I need to watch streaming audio or video?
You only need a computer with a Web connection (minimum 28.8 Kbps modem) and capable of playing audio or video, plus player software that can receive and process audio/video streams. You may already have such software on your computer, but if not, it is available as a free download from RealOne, Windows Media Player, Quicktime Player and Winamp (FreeAmp, XMMS).