Streaming videos online is one of the most popular uses of the internet. The average internet user spends a lot of time streaming videos, viewing YouTube videos, scrolling through Vine clips, and using other streaming media. This is because 6 billion hours worth of YouTube videos are viewed each month. 100 million internet users watch streaming media each day. It would take 5 million years to view all the video content on the internet.
The average internet user would likely give a confused answer if you asked them to define streaming video. If you don't ask an IT professional, you will get a confused answer. This definition is accurate to an extent.
You can watch media on your computer by downloading it and then playing it after it is downloaded. You can save all of the data to your computer so you can watch it at any time you want, even if you don't have an internet connection. Streaming video allows you to view the media in a continuous stream that is played as soon as it arrives at your device. The data flows continuously and will stop if your internet connection is interrupted.
It took internet users a while to be able to listen to or watch streaming media when it was first possible. It was slow to transfer data and it often took longer for the media to reach the computer than it did to be played. The media would also load in fits and starts. Modern internet users with stable internet access can stream entire movies without pauses or delays via streaming media.
Streamed media starts as high-quality digital data (known as raw data). This data is compressed and sent instantly over the internet. It can then be played immediately without the need to download or save it to your hard drive. This compression tends to lower the quality of the data, so some frames may be missing or pixilated when they're viewed as streaming media.
This compression is the reason that many streamed videos are of poor quality or sound clips can skip slightly while being played. Some quality must be sacrificed in order to transmit data quickly and compactly. Quality can be affected by the quality of the video when it is finally displayed on your computer.
Video streaming has made it easier for internet users to connect on a global level. The world is shrinking due to the many technological advances in recent years as well as those in the future.