What are the Different Types of Streaming Media?

Autumn Rivers

Streaming media is a type of technology that allows computer users to view or hear files as they are transferred. This is in contrast to first downloading files to the computer, which typically requires users to wait until the entire object is finished downloading. The ability to stream files is usually found on websites, allowing viewers to experience the files in real time. The most common types of streaming media typically include audio, video, or a synchronized mix of the two.

Computers users watch files as they are transferred using streaming media.
Computers users watch files as they are transferred using streaming media.

Audio can be found on even some of the most rudimentary Internet websites, as it is considered quite basic. Since it requires little bandwidth, it can also sound appealing on nearly any computer with standard speakers or headphones, even through a somewhat slow connection. This type of media is usually created by running a digital sound file through an encoder, and then placing it on a website for users to hear.

Some kinds of streaming media can be viewed on a person's television.
Some kinds of streaming media can be viewed on a person's television.

Video streaming is often found on the Internet, but it does not always include sound. An example of a basic video file that does not need audio is a stream of photographs. Many amateurs on the Internet can craft this type of streaming media, but it is usually not very good quality. This is partially because existing video that was originally made to be shown on videotape does not often transfer well to the Internet. Instead, most quality video streams are specifically made for this medium.

One of the most useful and favorite types of streaming media includes audio and video that are synchronized with each other. This ensures that the image on the screen and the audio from the speakers match up, making the viewing experience appear high-quality. Many television shows that are available online use this technology. Just like with video or audio streams, synchronized videos can be developed by amateurs online who have the time to learn the programs required.

The quality of the files typically depends on the speed of the user's Internet connection. Most computers can play audio files quite easily, but video streams typically take up more bandwidth. This means that they can take longer to stream continuously, resulting in several pauses as the transfer rate tries to catch up. Even on slower connections, though, streaming media usually still offers a faster alternative to downloading. This results in the ability for the public to have access to files faster than when they are forced to download objects, in general.

Headphones may be useful in enjoying streaming media.
Headphones may be useful in enjoying streaming media.

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Discussion Comments


I rely on audio streaming when deciding whether or not to purchase a music CD. If an artist or band has had a couple of singles out that I really like, I get interested in buying the album. However, in the past, I have done this and hated all the other songs.

So, I purchase them from sites that let me listen to about 30 seconds of each song before I buy the CD. I can get a good feel for whether or not I like the music just from that snippet.

Sometimes, the songs an artist releases to radio sound nothing like the other songs on the album. The best ones are often the ones we hear, so it’s a good idea to check out the others before you buy.


When I try to watch videos online, they usually play for several seconds and then stop. I have to suffer through multiple pauses to see an entire video.

So, I have a method that helps me prevent frustration. After the first three seconds of a video, I hit the pause button. Then, I wait for the line out beside the pause button to move all the way across to the end. When the entire line has filled in, I know that I will be able to watch the whole video without interruptions.


@miriam98 - Yes, you can fix the bit rate of the video using something like a streaming media encoder. Your finished video will then be suitable for uploading to various video file sharing sites.

As you said, however, this does nothing for the production value of the video; so if it’s poorly lit, with bad audio and a lot of shaky cam, the encoder won’t fix that – it may actually make it worse. It’s like the old saying, garbage in, garbage out.


There is a way to fix the problem of amateur video quality in some streaming media, which the article addresses. By amateur I don’t think it’s the production value per se that the article is talking about, but the resolution of the video.

You can fix it if you edit your file in video editing software. Many of these software applications will allow you to render your file in streaming video format.

The file size will be much smaller and the video quality, while slightly reduced from the original file format, would be better suited to stream over the Internet. In the end, it will simply look better.


@Azuza - I've never thought to watch the news streaming online. I may check that out!

I think streaming media is great because you can watch videos and listen to music without have to download anything. I like to watch TV shows online, because I'm not always home when they air. I'm glad I don't have to download a file every time I want to watch something!


I think streaming media video on the Internet is pretty amazing. I remember a few years ago, any video I wanted to watch would take forever to load. Now it's pretty much instantaneous.

The other day there was a minor earthquake in my area. I was at work, where we actually don't have any TV's. We were able to watch the news live online, thanks to streaming video.

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