Let’s take a look at what streaming is, how it works and how it allows you to watch movies, series and live TV shows over the Internet.
Watching movies from the comfort of your home has evolved dramatically since the 1950s. We have the television to thank for that. But even before the television, the internet, and blockbuster, people used to watch movies outside.
Yes. Moving images or simply movies as they are currently known now were viewed differently in the 1800s to the early 1950s. And now, with the COVID-19 rearing its ugly head, watching movies in a movie theatre with a box of buttery popcorn and a huge cola drink is not possible anymore.
Sometimes it feels as though watching movies will never be the same. This is because cinemas are typically designed to be the best way to experience movies. But since the current pandemic is not disappearing soon, people have found ways to entertain themselves from the comfort of their homes through streaming sites.
What is Streaming?
Streaming is simply defined as the means of sending and receiving packets of data over a network in a continuous flow. Typically used for video, games, and audio, streaming allows for your content playback to begin while the rest is in transit.
The content of your media is usually broken down into smaller pieces known as data packets which are sent over your browser and the corresponding media player interprets the data i.e. audio or video. As soon as your browser receives enough data packets, it starts playing it.
Entertainment platforms such as Netflix which provides content for streaming need to have cloud platforms and servers to store all their data. They also have content delivery networks where their most popular content is cached and is kept closer to where it is streamed.
How Does Streaming Work?
It is hard to believe that there was a time that you would have to wait hours just to download your favorite song. But now, media consumption has been made easy thanks to streaming services that make it so convenient. All you have to do is simply press a button and your movie, tv-series or song plays immediately.
Why Everyone is Streaming Movies now
The Coronavirus pandemic aside, there has been an increase in the online streaming of movies and television series globally. Even before the pandemic broke out, due to their busy schedules, people did not frequent movie theatres regularly.
The world’s biggest telecom and entertainment conglomerates have placed their bets on streaming entertainment over the last decade and it is paying off. At-home entertainment has progressed rapidly with online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Now, and others gaining new subscribers daily.
With the social isolation due to the Coronavirus, there has been a massive increase in total subscription, sign-up, and usage for streaming platforms like Disney Plus. Easy access to the internet has also played a role in the surge of online streaming of entertainment content.
How to be Safe While you Stream
As we have established, online streaming has steadily increased over the past few years. This has put a bit of strain on the internet as well as compromising your data privacy. Strict data privacy regulations and an increased rate of hacking made people start investing in good internet security.
And just because you are not downloading content while you stream, it does not mean that it is safe. You have to stay safe and anonymous while you stream. You can do this by either using VPNs or residential proxies.
Proxies are generally intermediaries that protect the user from general web traffic, acting as buffers while concealing your IP address. A residential proxy allows you to pick a specific location where you can go online as a real user in that area. This works best if you are traveling. It provides complete privacy for you online.
What you Need to Stream Your Movies
Smart televisions and popular blu-ray play come with the Netflix and/or Vudu internet applications built-in. They can connect to the internet and stream high-quality content from the comfort of your couch at home. This has made it easier to watch online television.
For you to stream your movies, you need either network-connected television or a blu-ray player and a high-speed internet connection. Emphasis on the internet connection because without it, you will be stuck with regular cable tv.
You will need to connect your television or Blu-ray player to a high-speed cable modem, a fiber-optic service, or DSL.
Your internet speed matters greatly. Slow internet connections will constantly buffer your content and watching movies will become a painful experience. The internet speed is measured in terms of Mbps( Megabits per second). Your internet connection is faster if your Mbps are higher.
For high-quality, high-definition videos, internet speeds of 5 Mbps or higher are recommended. Netflix, for example, can work with slower speeds of up to 2 Mbps. But the video quality will not be High-definition.
What Content can you Stream?
The media landscape today allows you to stream a wide variety of media content. The most traditional ones being audio and video content including music, tv shows, movies, and podcasts.
Movies and Other Video Content
Youtube revolutionized video streaming when it first came out. Youtube is still a pretty popular video streaming platform alongside Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Google Play. Video streaming typically allows you to watch whatever you want without having to download and store anything. This helps you save on your digital space.
The trouble arises when you want to watch your favorite movie from abroad. Numerous streaming sites are usually location-locked. This means that certain content is restricted to certain locations.
You can go around these restrictions by investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will allow you to watch your favorite movie from wherever you may be around the world.
Games and Apps
Game streaming allows you to connect wirelessly to a company game’s server. This way, you get to offload the games processing demands and space from your device. You send your game commands to a more powerful computer which then executes the commands and streams them back to you. Increased internet speeds have made this process work in real-time.
Music, Podcasts and Other Audio
Downloading music files is a thing of the past. Music service providers such as Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify have millions of music tracks of different genres that are available to you at the touch of a button.
They can curate playlists for you depending on your favorite genre or even mood. You can also create your playlist, adding tracks that you love.
Then we have Stitcher and Itunes which allow you to stream or even download your favorite podcasts.
Live streaming is increasingly becoming popular especially for special events such as The Olympic Games and political debates. Just as it is with streaming music and movies, you visit a website to live stream an event. The website may be a news site or a sports site and it is hosted on a server.
Social media platforms have capitalized on the idea of live streams with the incorporation of live stream elements such as Instagram Live and Facebook Live onto their platforms.
And just like any other streaming, only parts of your content are delivered at any given time and never the actual file.
The Benefits of Streaming Media Content
You Save Space
With streaming, you do not have to store big files on your device. Your hard drive will not be exhausted as you will watch lots of movies and listen to music online.
You Can Watch From Anywhere
One of the biggest benefits of having a VPN is that it allows you to change your IP location and you can stream your favorite online content from anywhere in the world.
You Get Access to Live Events
Not many of us can travel to watch the Olympics live or go watch our favorite band during their live concert. With a streaming service, you will feel like you are there as the event will be broadcasted live to you through your tv, laptop, and even your smartphone.
It is Cheaper
The cost of buying your favorite band’s album on a CD is more expensive than what you would pay to stream the entire album. And since it has been made illegal to download stuff from torrent sites, a streaming platform is the best option for you to save money and access content legally. This also helps curb piracy.
What could be better than instant playback? Nothing. That’s what. With streaming, you can start watching or listening immediately with the press of a button, without waiting for the content to download.
The rise of television stations in the 1950s got many people to tune in by airing older movies and not necessarily new content. This was short-lived, however, but an idea had been planted. This started a trend that saw tv stations starting to air current, high-quality content.
Streaming has come a long way from temporary theatres and peep-show machines. This is a trend that is steadily gaining altitude and we are in for more innovation. With the evolution of the entertainment industry, both the quality and quantity of the content as well as the medium, one cannot help but wonder, “What’s next?”