Streaming media services include television programming, movies, radio broadcasts and live events. All of these services are accessible via the Internet, although some might require a specific software to access. The speed of the Internet connection is critical in the delivery of any streaming media services. A direct, high-speed Internet connection, such as through broadband, DSL or cable, is required because the speed of data transfer via a dial-up connection is not fast enough.
Streaming media grew exponentially as the price for high-speed Internet connections dropped. Using a standard computer, most people can now access media from other countries that is not available on the television. In addition to the expanded access, popular television programs and movies also can be viewed via the Internet, usually without commercials.
The actual television program is owned by the studio or station on which it is broadcast. Increasingly, these media companies are making past episodes available on their websites. Product commercials often are excluded, but the broadcasting company is able to increase its information about customer preferences and the popularity of various shows. Customers also can purchase merchandise directly from the website or find other programs that they are interested in.
There are two types of movie streaming media services: paid and free. The paid services broadcast the licensed copy of the movie to subscribers, who can then view it at their convenience via the Internet from anywhere in the world. This is a great benefit for people who travel extensively and want to relax and watch a movie.
Free services usually broadcast pirated or bootleg copies of popular movies. This might include illegal copies or draft versions of the movie. The service is free, but the quality is less than ideal, and in many cases, the service is poor.
Many radio stations have added streaming media services to their list of product offerings. Users can listen to live broadcasts or prior sessions via the Internet. The quality of the broadcast can be quite high, and many stations have included additional features that encourage listener interaction.
Live events can be broadcast to either public or private audiences using streaming media services. For example, a university graduation ceremony can be made available via streaming media to family members and friends around the world who are unable to attend. There is no risk for the school, because attendance is usually quite limited, and it allows more people to participate in the event.