Video streaming is a highly-demanded feature for software solutions used in different industries. Given its growing popularity, we’ve decided to prepare this article that will cover all the basic aspects of this technology and explain how it functions.

The coronavirus pandemic was one of the strongest boosters of the increasing demand for video streaming. When strict lockdowns were introduced in many corners of the world, and practically all the countries were forced to close their borders, it became apparent that people had to look for alternative ways to organize and attend various events. Of course, the words “attend” or “attendance” do not seem to be the best ones when we are talking about virtual events. Nevertheless, video streaming turned out to be a good solution for those who wanted to feel the atmosphere of cool concerts or important matches without leaving their homes.

The use of video streaming platforms is not limited to the entertainment industry only. They play an important role in education, business, and even healthcare. Moreover, today the functionality of live streaming apps is rather wide. They allow users not only to watch transmissions online but also to record the events and to re-watch them, which has a very positive impact on user experience.

How Does Video Streaming Work?

When users open their favorite live-streaming app to watch an important conference or match, the entire process looks quite similar to what they have when they watch movies on Netflix or just switch on a TV set to enjoy a late-night show. Nevertheless, a lot of things are traditionally left behind the scenes. And from the technology perspective, it is a very different story. The main idea here is that video streaming app developers need to make it possible to show high-quality video content in real-time.

Let’s have a look at the journey that a video has to make from the camera to the screens of viewers. Typically, this journey looks the following way.

  1. RAW video is captured by cameras.
  2. The captured video is sent to the encoder.
  3. The RAW video is converted into a digital file by the encoder.
  4. The video is sent to the live-streaming platform.
  5. Then, via a content delivery network, from the platform, the video is sent to the video player.
  6. Users can view the video in the video player on their internet-connected devices.

This is just a traditional setup. That’s why please, remember that depending on some specific solutions that you are going to use, it may vary.

Types of Video Streaming Technology

Below you will find some basic information about the core streaming technology types that help ensure viewers’ highest satisfaction. 

  1. Streaming protocols. They are standardized approaches to delivering content via the internet. Thanks to them, even huge volumes of data can be taken in small chunks that will be light enough to be transmitted. Protocols have a vital role in live video broadcasting as they help to send content from point A to point B of the streaming process. Today, we can define a couple of the most widely used protocols. They are HTTPS Live Streaming (HLS), Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), and MPEG-DASH.
  2. Codecs. When you record a video, you get a RAW file. But then it is necessary to convert it into a digital file that will be compressed and ready for being sent. And a codec (coder-decoder) is precisely what makes it possible. There are audio and video codecs. 
  3. CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). Such a network can be described as a series of servers that are situated in a defined region to ensure the transmission of high-quality video content, even to those places that are located far away from the source of the stream. When servers are located close to the point where the video is being captured, and to the destination (the location where a user is), the content delivery takes significantly less time than in those cases when the distance between these locations is rather big.
  4. Video players. This is a user-facing component of the entire video streaming process. This technology allows viewers to watch video streams. The player that is considered to be the industry standard today is HTML5. One of the most important benefits that this player has is its compatibility with all the major operating systems and web browsers.

Final Word

Video streaming is evolving quite quickly today, with new platforms, protocols, and tools being introduced. It means that developers are continuously looking for the most innovative ways to deliver video content of the highest quality to users regardless of their location and internet connection speed. At the moment, many newly created solutions are focused on customization features and individual settings that aim to provide the best viewer experience to every user.