Streaming most commonly refers to the act of transferring data to your computer or device for immediate consumption. For example, watching live video on your PC would be watching a video stream.
Video streaming typically requires that the internet connection being used is sufficiently fast to meet the requirements of the video’s size and encoding, often referred to as “bit rate”. If your internet connection is capable of up to 1.5 megabits per second, then only video streams with bit rate requirements lower than that will play properly without interruption. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine bit rate requirements of arbitrary video streams, and this is typically determined by trial and error.
Streaming is distinguished from downloading by what happens to the data once transferred. Streaming is viewed or listened to immediately, whereas a download is typically saved to a file for later consumption.
Streaming media is multimedia that is delivered and consumed in a continuous manner from a source, with little or no intermediate storage in network elements. Streaming refers to the delivery method of content, rather than the content itself.
Distinguishing delivery method from the media applies specifically to telecommunications networks, as most of the traditional media delivery systems are either inherently streaming (e.g. radio, television) or inherently non-streaming (e.g. books, videotape, audio CDs). There are challenges with streaming content on the Internet. For example, users whose Internet connection lacks sufficient bandwidth may experience stops, lags, or slow buffering of the content. And users lacking compatible hardware or software systems may be unable to stream certain content. With the use of buffering content just a few seconds in advance, the quality can get much better.
Livestreaming is the real-time delivery of content during production, much as live television broadcasts content via television channels. Livestreaming requires a form of source media (e.g. a video camera, an audio interface, screen capture software), an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content delivery network to distribute and deliver the content.
Streaming is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it. Through streaming, an end-user can use their media player to start playing digital video or digital audio content before the entire file has been transmitted. The term "streaming media" can apply to media other than video and audio, such as live closed captioning, ticker tape, and real-time text, which are all considered "streaming text".
Streaming is most prevalent in video on demand and streaming television services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Funimation, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, VRV and YouTube Premium. Amazon Music, SiriusXM, and YouTube Music, stream music and video game live streaming services are provided by Twitch.