What is Video Streaming?

Glossary Series
Updated December 4 2019
what is video streaming
Glossary Series
Updated December 4 2019

You’ve probably heard of video streaming. But you may be wondering — what exactly is video streaming? How does it work, why should you care, and how should you select the right video streaming platform for your content?

Video Streaming — what is it? 

Video streaming enables data from a video file to be continuously delivered via a network or the internet to a remote user. That user can then view videos online without downloading them onto a host computer or device.

A streaming service should have various hosting options to meet the needs of content creators. From a technical standpoint, for example, a SaaS video platform that offers services such as tier-1 hosting, streaming, delivery, transcoding, syndication, distribution, security, etc. helps minimize upfront investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Meanwhile, a fully-managed on-premises solution can be a good fit for certain organizations looking to manage their system on their own infrastructure. 

Content (e.g., TV shows, movies, live streams) is delivered on-demand or via live broadcast, usually from a cloud-based network. Video streaming services are attractive to consumers because they offer a lower-cost alternative to cable and satellite on-demand services.

How Does Video Streaming Work?

Video streaming requires the content provider to host pre-recorded media files on a remote server. Users who have a compatible video player are then able to connect to this server to access the video content.

During the streaming process, video file data is compressed and sent to the requesting device in small chunks over a network or internet connection. The user’s player decompresses the streamed data and displays it on the screen. This means that the viewer can start watching the video without waiting for the entire file to download thereby improving the user experience.

The Benefits of Using Video Streaming To Distribute Your Content

Video streaming technology offers many benefits to content creators and distributors. It can deliver high-quality video to a large audience without burdening the end-user. Video streaming allows audiences to view videos on a wide range of devices without needing to have the storage capability for the large files.

This technology can also allow you to control the access viewers have to your content. For example, it can enable you to prevent users from downloading video files. This minimizes the risk of any copyrighted materials being affected by piracy. 

How To Select a Video Streaming Platform

While there are many video streaming services on the market, not all of them are created equal — especially for publishers that want to distribute their content at scale and reach the largest audience possible with their videos.

Here are some key qualities and features to look for in a video streaming platform:

High-Quality Playback

Playback quality impacts viewer engagement. Factors that affect playback quality include buffering, rebuffering, bitrate, start-up time, and latency. For example, when buffering occurs, audience engagement can fall by as much as 90%

How the data in a video file is processed also impacts the quality of the playback. Look for a provider that offers multiple flavor transcoding and multi-bitrate delivery. This will automatically process videos into a variety of optimized output files to ensure that viewers are getting the highest quality video — regardless of what device they are using. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and set-top boxes should all be supported


Access and piracy are major concerns for content publishers, especially those with a subscription model. Look for a platform that allows you to determine exactly when and where your videos are accessible while offering a variety of encryption options to ensure the security of your content — whether they’re in storage or during delivery.

You should be able to set access controls that allow authorized users to easily view videos while protecting that content from anyone else. Other video security features to look for include digital rights management (DRM), granular entitlement management, and forensic watermarking to help protect copyrights of your content.


Viewer behaviors, as well as the methods for distributing and consuming video content, are evolving at a fast pace. You need a platform with an infrastructure that can work under changing network conditions.

Also, look for platforms that support live streaming with on-demand playback capabilities. This video format has become increasingly popular with viewers. The platform should also offer the right CDN (content delivery network) and storage solutions so you can effectively manage the cost and quality associated with live streaming.


Video creation is no small investment. You’ve already put in the effort, creativity, and resources to develop fantastic content. So it’s important to have the right technology for distributing and monetizing that content in order to maximize your ROI.

Look for a video streaming platform that provides high-quality playback, security options, and flexible delivery methods. This will allow you to streamline content production and distribution while creating an outstanding user experience that’ll keep viewers coming back.

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