A
A    SS tt rr ee aa m
m ii n
n g
g    M
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d ii aa    P
P rr ii m
m ee rr ::      
H
H O
O W
W    D
D O
O E
E S
S    S
S T
T R
R E
E A
A M
M II N
N G
G    W
W O
O R
R K
K ??
Year 2000: unique monthly audience 
by player, in millions of viewers 
  most content providers support all the players Microsoft's Media 
per month
16
Player, Real Network's Real Player and Apple's QuickTime in an effort to 
30
RealMedia
Windows
QuickTime
Media
reach as many eyeballs as possible. There are some solutions available 
25
that make it easier to handle multiple bit rates from one source, but 
20
encoding for the different formats continues to be a challenge. In addition 
15
to requiring more employees to handle the encoding, it also requires more 
10
5
space on servers . 
20 28
7 13
7
 Ken Kerschbaumer
million
million
million
Broadcasting & Cable Magazine
17
0
Jan. Dec.
Jan. Dec.
Jan. Dec.
2000
2000
2000
Players
It's all interrelated in a streaming architecture, 
COMPATIBLE
everything must be compatible
CODECS
From the content 
Encoders
provider's perspective, 
CO
F
the situation is even more 
M
O
P
R
A
LE
diffi cult: the RealMedia server 
M
TIB
LS
cannot stream Windows Media 
A
L
T
E
S
PATIB
CO
and QuickTime fi les; the Windows 
TO
Media server cannot stream QuickTime 
COM
PRO
and RealMedia fi les; and the QuickTime 
server cannot stream RealMedia and Windows 
Media fi les. Meanwhile, because end users are 
choosing their default players for different reasons, 
Servers
and no content provider wants their media to be over 
looked simply because the end user has selected one player over 
another, content providers usually choose to encode, serve, and stream their content in at least two, if 
not all three of the major formats. And, making it even more complex and costly, depending on whether 
they are delivering over narrowband or broadband or both, content providers may offer streaming fi les 
at multiple bit rates, within each format. So there may be as many as nine different versions to be 
encoded, stored, and streamed. 
Each architecture has pro and cons, as well as champions and critics. Decisions you make about which 
architectures to use, when, and how, will depend upon the parameters of your project, your audience, 
your objectives, and other factors. Don't be surprised if you fi nd it quite diffi cult to decide this is 
the subject of great debate, even among the experts. But one thing upon which the experts agree, is 
the need for an open, extensible standard that will satisfy the needs of technology providers, content 
providers, and audiences alike.
namic Medianamic Mediayy
Streaming media formats
Architectures are often mistakenly called  formats.  An architecture is much more than just a format. 
A format, also known as a fi le format, is simply the fi le structure an architecture creates with its codecs 
obe D
(short for compressor decompressor you'll learn more about codecs later in this Primer). The fi le 
obe D
dd
format and, therefore, the architecture, can usually be recognized by the fi lename extension (a dot 
AA
plus three characters) tagged onto the name of the fi le. 
11
11
16  Source:   Streaming Media Market Report 2001  by Dale Sorenson, Macintouch Special Reports, April 2001, http://macintouch.com/stream2001.html#2000use
17    The Impossible Stream,  by Ken Kerschbaumer, Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, December 11, 2000
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