A S t r e a m i n g M e d i a P r i m e r :
W H A T I S S T R E A M I N G M E D I A ?
online and plan to spend even more. The study concludes that when Web sites integrate
streaming media into their content, they will attract more of these potentially high
value customers. In an even more recent study, Startling New Insights about the
Uploading and downloading mean
Internet and Streaming,
published in September 2000, Arbitron/Edison Media
transferring data from one computer to
Research tell us that 56% of Streamies have made an online purchase, spending a mean
another. The two words have the same
amount of $768 per year online, as opposed to 33% of non streamies making online
relationship as exporting and importing
purchases with mean online spending at $596 per year.
the correct choice depends on which
side of the border you're on. Uploading
The advantages of streaming outweigh its shortcomings
is sending, or exporting, data from one
Quality concerns will continue to challenge media streamed over the public Internet,
computer to another; downloading is
until broadband is ubiquitous. Even now, however, streaming offers distinct advantages
retrieving, or importing data from one
that other methods of media delivery do not provide:
computer to another.
No waiting for complete downloads well, not much waiting, anyway.
Here's where it gets a little confusing
Streamed fi les are not written to disk they are processed and played as they are
Whenever you import data from one
received, then discarded, leaving no residual copy of the content on the receiving
computer to another, you are, technically
speaking, downloading. As you have
device, and thereby alleviating copyright concerns.
already learned, streaming means that
Streaming is capable of conveying live events around the globe in near real time.
the fi le is processed and played as it
Supports interactivity, allowing content to be experienced in a non linear
is received i.e., downloaded and then
the content is discarded. So, even though
manner. Video on demand, for example, can be chapterized, allowing users
you have downloaded a fi le, it will not
to jump to desired portions.
and cannot be saved to your hard drive.
Streaming content is an excellent way to enhance otherwise static Web sites.
However... in common usage, down
loading has come to mean receiving and
WHAT MAKES STREAMING MEDIA DIFFERENT?
saving data to your hard drive. When you
save, or write a fi le to disk, if it has
not been locked or otherwise secured
Traditional download makes you wait
against tampering, and if you have the
The Internet and downloadable media formats have brought end users access to a wide
appropriate software application, you
range of multimedia content published on the World Wide Web. But, in a narrowband
could alter the fi le and/or redistribute it.
world (as of this writing, most Internet users are still connecting at speeds of 56Kbps
So a distinction has been drawn between
or lower), downloading large media fi les is quite tedious and, very often, inconvenient.
downloading and streaming. While
It goes like this: Just click on a link to the fi le; choose Save As; designate a destination
traditional download and progressive
folder on your hard drive; and then wait as the fi le is down load
download both result in media fi les
ed . You have to wait for the entire download to fi nish and that could be minutes or
being written to disk (i.e., saved on
even hours before you can see or hear what you downloaded. So you might spend a
the end user's hard drive), when you
lot of time downloading media fi les, only to fi nd that when you play them, they are not
receive (i.e., download ) streaming fi les,
what you really wanted or expected. .
the media content is not saved.
Until recently, audio and video on the Web was primarily a download and play technology.
You had to fi rst download an entire media fi le before it could play. It was like pouring milk into
a glass and then drinking it. But because media fi les are usually very large and take a long time
to download, the only content found on the Web was short 30 second clips often even shorter.
Even these fi les could take 20 minutes or longer to download. In other words, it took a long
time to pour the milk, and then it would barely quench your thirst Watching audio and
video fi les that stream is more like drinking straight from the carton; streaming media fi les begin
playing almost immediately, while the data is being sent, without having to wait for the whole
fi le to download. Other than a few seconds of delay before the fi le starts to play, you don't have to
wait to start watching, no matter if the fi le lasts 30 seconds or 30 minutes.
Microsoft Windows Technologies Web Site
9 Startling New Insights About the Internet and Streaming', Arbitron/Edison Media Research, September 2000, PDF available at http://www.arbitron.com or http://www.edisonresearch.com