The term ‘live streaming’ is given to the process of watching a video or listening to music live, in real-time online, rather than downloading it to a computer or device to watch later.
Live streaming is literally tapping into a continuous stream of real-time data from an internet source, and is the fastest way to access internet-based content.
What is the difference between live streaming and download?
The rise in popularity of live streaming over progressive download is largely contributed to the real-time viewing factor – data is delivered as and when you need it, without having to wait for it to download.
Downloading data to view later is how videos and music were enjoyed from the internet traditionally-speaking, before the introduction of streaming. Content was downloaded and saved onto a computer or device. The content cannot be viewed until the download is completed.
When content is streamed live, it is not saved on the device, which is another key difference between streaming and downloading. Access to data streams is instant, and when you disconnect, there is no residual data left on the computer or device (unless you download as well).
What are the drawbacks of live streaming content?
Problems with live streaming can occur over slow, or intermittent internet connections, and produce the dreaded ‘buffering’ scenario.
A Buffer is the term given to temporary memory, which constantly processes the content in advance to ensure consistent viewing. Buffering occurs when the temporary memory does not process the content at a high enough speed, and halts, or interrupts the stream. Sometimes the stream is not halted completely, but loses quality to compensate for the buffering.
Why is it important to achieve low latency when streaming?
Latency is the term given to the speed and consistency of real-time streaming, specifically the delay between the video or content being filmed, and the delivery of the content to the device.
In many applications, achieving low latency is not considered an important issue – for example, if you are watching a video, it really does not matter if the latency creates a delay of 30 seconds, as it will not spoil the viewing experience. However, during live sport events, internet auctions, or other applications that require a real-time view, low latency can be critical.
New applications and software for live streaming are on the increase throughout the industry, as its popularity rises significantly. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are contributing to this sector with the introduction of live, real-time video posts for users.