Streaming Media (Video on the Internet)

by Merrill M. Hessel



Now you can find movies from the Sundance Festival, Archives of old video programs and the Superbowl commercials available to you.  There are live video streaming webcasts for many events. Companies use "streaming" to  have meetings with their employees on their desktops.

If you want to get a position in video either as a technician or producer this is one of the growth areas.

What do we mean by streaming?

There are two ways you can obtain a movie from the Internet. Download the file and place it on your hard drive or stream it like a TV broadcast and as the information (Movie Picture and Sound) comes into your computer you view it. Streaming can accommodate live conferences, concerts, shows, meetings. Streaming is the way to go. Downloading is slow and many producers do not want you to have a copy of their product.

How do you view Streaming Media?

There are three main Streaming "Players", Real Player, Windows Media Player and QuickTime Player.  A player is like a TV set that allows you to view these files.  

Real Player

Windows Media Player



QuickTime Player


Unfortunately each Player will only play their type of Video file.  This problem is equivalent to having a TV that only receives one station ABC on their set and you would have to buy another set to receive CBS programs and another for CNN.

Fortunately Windows Media Player comes with every PC for free but not MAC.  Real Player and QuickTime Player  may or may not come on your PC or MAC but you can download them for free.  The vendors try to lure you into paying for a souped up version of their player that has additional features over the free one (ignore these features go for free!).

Now you go to a website what do you use?  

Real Player states they have over 100 million players on PCs.  I like it and for the clips I have looked at and produced I find he video quality and sound much better than Windows Media. Download this Player if it is not on your computer.

Windows Media has a huge audience since this player is built into every PC.  The clips I have produced sound tinny, but that may have been my fault and you can test this for yourself .

QuickTime Player comes with all MACS and anyone using Adobe Products on a PC such as Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator have it on the setup disk or are required to use it for video editing. Most websites do not stream QuickTime videos.

Streaming Limitations

The problem with good video on the web now is your connection to the Internet.  Video pushes a lot of bits of information per second (bps) through the wires. With a telephone modem that allows 56,000 bps or less the video signal is degraded and the streams are jerky and poor quality.  DSL or Cable modem connections are 4 to 20 times faster and allow smoother and higher quality video images. 

According to a July 2002 Arbitron/Edison Media Report

A 2004 Nielson/Netratings Report  state that 48.6% of U.S. households have broadband connections and by Feb. 06 this will be up to 80%.  Comcast just announced they are upgrading their downloading speed from 3 Mbps to 6 Mbps at no increased charge.  This is 100 times that of a dial-up modem and will allow us to view movies with reasonable quality and reliability/

It is clear that Streaming Media is growing at a rapid rate and for those of us producing video content on a professional or even accomplished amateur basis we will be distributing many of our programs through the Internet in the next few years.

To see relevant Streaming Media Click Here or back to