We explain what streaming is, how it works and what types exist. In addition, its history and what are the most important platforms.

streaming live broadcast online
The streaming became popular through the consumption of smartphones and computers.

what is the streaming?

transmission by streamingalso called streaming, streaming, or streaming, It is a method of distributing multimedia (audiovisual) content through computer networks, which transmits the content the moment it is consumed., without having to download and store it beforehand. The term streaming comes from English streaming (“jet” or “stream”) and refers to the uninterrupted transmission of audiovisual content.

The transmission of commercial content via streaming became popular after the year 2000 throughout the world, as broadband services made it possible to equalize the data transmission rate necessary to transmit series, movies, podcasts and other delayed content (that is, previously recorded) or different live and direct television services. Unlike traditional television or radio broadcasts, it had the virtue that the user can choose what content to see and when.

To have access to this type of services an internet connection and one or more devices capable of playing audio and video are requiredsuch as smart TVs, tablets, smartphones or computers. The success of this technology, therefore, goes hand in hand with the increase in the consumption of this type of device, and the improvement in the capacity for wireless data transmission (4G and 5G).

As it happens with other anglicisms, that is, other loans from English into Spanish, the word streaming It should always be written in italics.

See also: Digital television

Background and history of streaming

streaming online transmission origin rolling stones
On November 18, 1994, The Rolling Stones broadcast 20 minutes of their concert live.

The basic principle of transmission by streaming It is not new, already in 1920 the Muzak background music system invented by the American soldier George Owen Squier (1865-1934) operated based on the continuous transmission of electrical impulses, but the technology of that time did not allow its use; at least not in the terms in which it was finally given in the 1990s.

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The streaming became known to the masses in 1994, thanks to a concert by the British rock band The Rolling Stones, who on November 18 broadcast a 20-minute extract of their concert live in Dallas, United States, as part of a promotion for Showtime’s paid content services. This transmission was made possible by Multicast Bone (MBone) technology, invented in 1992 to broadcast academic lectures.

Subsequently, in 1995, appeared RealAudio 1.0, an audio format that facilitated and lightened the streaming internet audiowhich had a massive impact on digital telecommunications and demonstrated the virtue of the buffering or temporary storage of the contents for almost instantaneous enjoyment.

However, the true capabilities of this technology were successfully put to the test thanks to the YouTube social network, launched in 2005 and dedicated to transmitting audiovisual content over the Internet. In the following years, the giants of the entertainment industry appeared via streaming, both in the television and film area, as well as in video games, radio on-line and the podcasts.

how does the streaming?

transmission by streaming works in the same way as any other digital data transmission, but instead of requiring the content to be downloaded completely before it can be played, the services streaming They have a data buffer, that is, a computer memory space dedicated to the temporary storage of informationwhere the content is accumulated for its immediate transmission, so that there are no interruptions.

A) Yes, data is transmitted, received and reproduced quickly, as long as the bandwidth of the Internet service equals or exceeds the transmission rate of the information. Therefore, the larger the data packets (for example, if the video quality is set to maximum), the more information per second will have to be processed, stored, and played back.

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Types streaming

streaming online transmission platforms
The platforms of streaming They can transmit all kinds of audiovisual or interactive content.

transmission via streaming It can be classified according to the type of information consumed in:

  • streaming audio. Allows you to listen to radio and recorded programs (podcast) via Internet. They can also make phone calls and transmit audio messages.
  • streaming Of video. It allows you to receive a continuous stream of moving images, such as the feed from a security camera in an establishment, or a documentary or scientific recording of some kind.
  • streaming audiovisual content. It allows you to consume integrated audio and video content, such as series, movies, video conferences, video calls, among others.
  • streaming video game. It allows the download of the data necessary to play the game quickly and online, usually after having installed a portion of the software required to play the game on a computer or video game console. In other cases it refers to the installation on-line of a new game directly on the devices, without the need for downloading and further processing.

Some of the most popular platforms for selling content through live streaming or streaming are the following:

  • Youtube. It is one of the pioneering platforms in the business of streaming audio and video, and consists of a vast social network that continuously stores and reproduces the recordings of its users, whether they are self-produced programs, advertising messages, etc.
  • Netflix. It is one of the platforms streaming most popular, and offers its subscribers access to thousands of series, films and short films to consume directly. Its success has been such that many smart TVs already have Netflix buttons on their remote controls.
  • Disney+. Directed mainly to children and young people, this service of streaming Disney-branded content (or its associated brands, such as pixar, Marvel either Star Wars) was founded in 2019 and offered to the public in the midst of a boom in platforms of this type, linked to mobility restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic that began in 2020.
  • Vimeo. It is a loading platform and streaming video company founded in 2004 and operating as a social network, whose high bit rates and high video resolution have made it popular among artists in the music world as a site for hosting and distributing concerts and video clips.
  • HBOMax. Owned by the film production and distribution company HBO, this streaming platform streaming Launched in 2020, it quickly became one of the most in-demand in a highly contested business sector, as its content is not limited to company-produced content.
  • Google Cloud Streaming. It is the service of streaming of data from Google, which emerged in 2008 as an alternative to storing applications on the computer, which can instead run them directly from the cloud, that is, through the Internet. In this sense, Google Cloud is a virtual environment that sends and receives data taking advantage of the technology of the streaming.

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  • Streaming on Wikipedia.
  • “Do you know what streaming is?” (video) in the ICT Ministry of Colombia.
  • “What is streaming and how does it work?” at AVAST Academy.
  • “Streaming (data transmission)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.