With streaming media, a user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Because the media is sent in a continuous stream of data it can play as it arrives. Users can pause, rewind or fast-forward, just as they could with a downloaded file, unless the content is being streamed live.
Here are some advantages of streaming media:
- Makes it possible for users to take advantage of interactive applications like video search and personalized playlists.
- Allows content deliverers to monitor what visitors are watching and how long they are watching it.
- Provides an efficient use of bandwidth because only the part of the file that’s being transferred is the part that’s being watched.
- Provides the content creator with more control over his intellectual property because the video file is not stored on the viewer’s computer. Once the video data is played, it is discarded by the media player.
Streaming technology is not new. Most people are familiar with it from an audio only point of view since Marconi invented radio in 1897. Streaming video followed with TV from the mid 1930s onwards. Most people would refer to this as broadcasting. This concept is well understood. A continuous stream of information is transmitted and receivers are able to tune in and receive the information in real time.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are an attempt to introduce a coherent approach to building an infrastructure of caching proxies, mirror servers and proxy accelerators to enable a more efficient and speedier delivery of streamed content to end users. The ultimate goal is to replicate content and bring it closer to the end user in a transparent fashion.