Long gone are the days when people have to follow fixed broadcasting schedules and cinema timings to view some limited content. Today people across the globe watch the latest video content, movies, favorite shows, and much more from the comfort of their homes and timings. Streaming media platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ have seen a surge in popularity, with viewers subscribing to these platforms at a very high rate. Subscriptions and usage across all streaming media services have increased and creators are investing their resources in creating ‘Originals’.
Specifically, the global video cloud streaming platform and service are expected to value $350 billion by 2030. Nearly 85% of US viewers have at least one subscription to a media streaming service. So why is media streaming becoming so popular and profitable?
What are media streaming service?
Media streaming service are online platforms where viewers stream and access multimedia content such as movies, shows, audio, sports, and podcasts over the internet. To access the library of content on these media services, viewers require a subscription or some sort of payment. Viewers need an active internet connection and compatible software and hardware systems to stream the content which can be smartphone, computer, smart TV, media player, and more.
The media files are stored remotely and transmitted in sequential data packets from a server to a client. On the viewer’s device, the media is played immediately while the rest of the file is continuously transmitted a few seconds at a time over the internet. In case of downloading, the entire file is first saved on the device’s hard drive and only played once the download is complete.
Media streaming service have helped people cut the cord on traditional satellite TV subscriptions and cable. They can now watch their favorite piece of content based on their preference, timing, language, and more.
While commuting, cooking, or relaxing, your entertainment is right in your hands. All they need is an internet connection and connected device. There is no more waiting to watch a fixed slot show or movie and from classic entertainment to latest releases, everything is accessible right on your smartphone, tablet, laptop and other smart devices. Most importantly, people only pay for the content they need to watch and there are subscription plans to fit different budgets.
Advantages of media streaming service over traditional viewing
The way we consume video content has drastically shifted from traditional cable and satellite viewing to media streaming services. However, there are key differences between both the popular methods of viewing.
- Flexibility – In a traditional cable connection, you have to watch a movie at a specific time and in case you miss it, you have to wait for the same movie to be aired in future. When we were young, our whole family gathered at the living room to watch a weekend movie on cable television. With time, the way we consume content has changed. Now you have the flexibility to watch at any time, place, date and what not. You may resume, pause, watch in slots and do everything that adjusts to your busy schedule.
- Content collection – In a typical TV setup, you are limited to a few channels and shows. Basically, everything depends on your cable or satellite provider. Streaming media services on the other hand have an extensive range of content, including shows, movies, documentaries from different providers. You can easily find the content that best suits your preference and interest.
- Cost – With a media streaming service, you have to only pay for the content you want to watch. Some streaming services even offer account sharing, allowing access to the same account with different profiles which further reduces the cost. In cable television, you have to pay a certain amount every month for limited channels.
- Availability – On streaming services, viewers with disabilities, those hard of hearing or deaf can easily watch content with subtitles and closed captioning. Also, there is multilingual content available on these platforms which make content availability to a large audience.
Types of media streaming service
On a broader perspective, there are several media streaming services, including:
Video-on-demand services – On VOD platforms, content is delivered over the internet in real time. Viewers watch video content such as movies and shows as per their convenience on a range of supported devices. Viewers usually pay a subscription fee to watch content. Examples include HBO Max, Disney Hotstar, and Netflix.
Live streaming services – live streaming services broadcast real-time events, such as live news, events, concerts and viewers watch them at the same time at which they happen. Some live streaming services allow viewers to engage, comment, and interact with fellow viewers and hosts in real-time. Videos on most streaming platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are broadcast live as they happen.
Educational streaming services – These platforms provide educational content, such as instructional videos and online courses. They cover a range of topics and subjects like engineering, technology, physics and anything that educates a learner. They can be free as well as paid or a mix of both. Examples include Khan Academy, edX, and Coursera.
Music streaming services – On these services, users listen to music, create custom playlists and choose from a huge library of music including songs, podcasts, playlists and favorite creators. Some of the features are free while to avail more features like ad-free music and offline download, users need to pay a subscription fee. Spotify, YouTube Music are popular music streaming services.
How does a media streaming service work?
Media streaming services work by continuous transmission of media files from the server to client device in real-time which is known as streaming. The media file playing on the user’s device is actually stored on a remote server. On playback request, the file is transmitted in sequential data packets which are instantly streamed. Without having to download media content on the device, users access and consume media content.
- Content upload – The creators upload the media content such as videos on a video hosting platform or server, where it is stored.
- Encoding – The uploaded media file is converted into digital format to transmit it over the internet in proper format. The process involves transcoding, compression without affecting the video quality and bitrate encoding.
- Delivery – Most media streaming services use Content Delivery Network (CDN) to store content in the proxy servers nearest to the user location. It ensures that the content delivery is fast, latency and buffering free. Upon a playback request, a small chunk of data (first few seconds of media file) start streaming.
- Buffering – As soon as the content is streamed, the streaming media player preloads a few seconds of stream ahead of time to ensure uninterrupted content stream playback.
TCP vs UDP protocols for media streaming
There are two popular transport protocols to transmit data packets over a network, User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
UDP is a connectionless protocol without any dedicated connection between the sender and receiver device. It is a fast protocol but not reliable as data packets may be lost or arrive out of order and there is no method to retransmit lost packets.
TCP on the other hand establishes a dedicated connection and data flow happens in series. At the receiving device, each data packet is acknowledged and there is a mechanism to retransmit lost packets and ensure correct sequential transmission. This also makes TCP slower but more reliable.
|Speed||Slower than UDP||Faster|
|Header size||20-60 bytes||8-byte|
|Applications||Reliable & secure transmission (web browsing, e-mail)||Real-time applications (game, video & music streaming)|
Features to look for in a media streaming server
A media streaming server converts or encodes a media file into a data format and delivers content over the internet across a range of devices. It is dedicated to streaming high-quality media content to clients and comes with added features like codec, broadcast-quality content, adaptive streaming, unflagging reliability, and support for various streaming protocols.
- Streaming protocols – to ensure compatibility across multiple devices and browsers, the media streaming server must support various streaming protocols like DASH and HLS.
- Scalability – capable of handling a large number of simultaneous requests with ease to scale up and down
- Adaptive streaming – media streaming servers adaptive streaming technology dynamically adjust the video quality as per user’s network speed. The bitrates and video quality is automatically adjusted to deliver smooth playback.
- Security – media streaming servers must have robust security measures in place like secure streaming protocols, content protection, security updates, encryption and more.
Technical aspects of media streaming service
Bandwidth – maximum amount of data unit of time that a transmission medium like an internet connection can handle. It is measured in bits per second(bps), Megabits per second(Mbps), or Gigabits per second(Gbps)
Bitrate – the amount of data that is actually transmitted over a network in a given time. Higher the bitrate, higher the video quality but consumes more bandwidth and vice-versa.
Buffering – process of pre-loading data segments while streaming video content. It makes a stream run smoothly as the video is played before the entire video loads. Buffering is good unless that is noticeable due to network issues or bandwidth problems
Latency – time delay between a media stream request and the start of media playback. It is caused by several factors like processing delays and network congestion. Low latency ensures smooth and fast streaming while high latency makes the player wait before the playback starts.
Codec – compression technology with two components, encoder for file compression and decoder to decompress. Codec examples include H.264, H.265, VP9, and AAC
Adaptive bitrate streaming – technique used by many streaming services to adjust the media bitrate to match the available bandwidth. In times of low connectivity and fluctuating bandwidth, the content is streamed uninterrupted and smoothly.
Security issues with media streaming
Video transmission over the internet creates security risks. With millions of users streaming premium content on the web, it’s no surprise that there is a rapid increase in piracy and misuse of content and personal information.
- Unauthorized access and sharing – if some unauthorized person accesses your account or media files, there is risk of data breach and video piracy. There needs to be a mechanism to restrict access. Latest technologies like DRM secure your premium content for unauthorized access, sharing, and copying.
- llegal downloading and streaming – When someone gets access to a media file, in seconds, the content is leaked and made available on the web for free. It is a serious issue faced by the media industry and every year, many economies suffer huge revenue loss.
- Malware attacks – A big security concern in media streaming is injection of malwares and viruses in the streaming media. It can potentially infect a device or system and gain access to the personal files and data.
- Geo-restriction regulations – There are various governing regulations in some countries that restrict certain types of content. There are legal penalties if content is served in those regions. Hence, it’s important to have geo-restriction availability in a media streaming service.
- Credential sharing – A common consumer behavior and revenue loss for streaming providers, credential sharing poses significant security risks. Anyone unauthorized can easily access the media files and no one knows how long the password sharing chain grows. Media streaming providers have a limited number of sign-in users and accounts, restricted password sharing, and OTP-based login.
VdoCipher – DRM secure media streaming service provider
Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology protects digital contents like videos, files, audios from piracy, unauthorized access, sharing, and distribution. Without DRM security in place, videos can be easily downloaded and shared, leading to copyright infringement and revenue loss for the creators. DRM makes piracy very difficult and ensures secured distribution of content and accessibility by only authorized users.
VdoCipher, a secure video hosting platform offers Hollywood-Grade DRM encryption to secure your videos from illegal downloads and piracy. Being a direct partner with Google and deploying Google Widevine and Apple FairPlay DRM, videos streamed via VdoCipher cannot be hacked or downloaded using any internet plugin or software.
DRM is the highest available security for securing video content and used by streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Over 3500 media and elearning customers from over 120+ countries rely on VdoCipher to host and securely stream their premium videos.
What VdoCipher offers:
Multi-DRM Security – videos are secured from unauthorized downloads and access using the highest available encryption technologies, Google Widevine and Apple FairPlay DRM.
Dynamic Watermarking – users can add dynamic watermarks over their video with customizations for color, size, and transparency. Details like email, user ID are dynamically displayed on the videos which discourage screen capture and establish a unique identity.
Secure offline downloads in apps – VdoCipher iOS native SDK allows secure offline downloads on device. You can add time validity for the downloaded video inside Android app
Screen Capture block in Android and iOS Native app – VdoCipher native SDK integration at the hardware level blocks screen capture. It is a very useful features when it comes to video piracy and copyright infringement
Ready to use VdoCipher Plugin – We have plugins for WordPress and Moddle to give you complete control over your videos. VdoCipher WordPress plugin seamlessly integrates with most popular WP membership plugins and top LMS such as LearnDash, LearnPress, and LifterLMS. Learn about VdoCipher Moodle plugin and how to upload video on Moodle.
Fair Pricing – We offer plans to suit every business need, be it individual creators, small businesses, elearning/media platforms or enterprises. Our paid plans start from $99 and scale up to a custom model. Each plan varies with storage space and utilized bandwidth.
Customer support – we have a dedicated customer support team to address general to core technical issues. The team is reachable on email, call, WhatsApp
How much is a media streaming service pricing?
Based on the features and subscription plans, subscription pricing varies. While some offer free trials for say 30 days while others charge a monthly or annual subscription fee to access content.
Do media streaming service have multi-device support?
Yes, most of them allow users to access their account on multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and computers.
What are the advantages of a media streaming server?
Better control over media content, multi-device accessibility, latency and buffering free media streaming, and features like adaptive streaming.
Supercharge Your Business with Videos
At VdoCipher we maintain the strongest content protection for videos. We also work extremely hard to deliver the best viewer experience. We'd love to hear from you, and help boost your video streaming business.
Jyoti began her career as a software engineer in HCL with UNHCR as a client. She started evolving her technical and documentation writing skills to become a full-time Content Marketer at VdoCipher.