Video Streaming - There is a difference
BiggyTV Blog

Understanding video streaming

BiggyTV Streaming

The term “video streaming” might seem like a new word because of all the online video sites that offer video content, but the truth is you have been watching video streaming for a very long time, that is if you have owned a TV in the last 50 or more years.

The video that comes to your TV is streamed over-the-air which reaches an antenna on your roof, streamed through the cable that is connected to your cable box, or streamed through the satellite dish on your roof.  All of these delivery methods are streaming or “transmission paths.”  Transmission paths is an important term which I will touch upon in another blog as it will have a direct effect on the future of video viewing, but for now I will breakdown “Streaming”.

I am going to break apart the terms of streaming into: Live Streaming, Linear Streaming, Video on-Demand Streaming.  I know that is a lot to cover, but it drives me crazy that so many companies use these interchangeably so if it gets to be too much you can reread this post and hopefully you will have benefited from the investment of your time.

Live Streaming

Live Streaming

This is probably the easiest type of streaming to define.  Live Streaming meaning that the video you watch is coming from an event that is actually happening in real time.  Watching a football game on CBS, or watching local news on NBC is an example of live streaming no matter the platform TV, mobile device or over-the-top (I’ll explain OTT in another post).  These are the most traditional types of live streaming.

Now if you use applications like YouNow, MeerKat, TwitchTV these are great fun applications that allow live streaming to other people using the application and will even alert your Twitter for Facebook follows that you are “on the air” with your live stream.

Broadcast Streaming

Linear Streaming

This type of streaming is something that we have all experienced at some part of the day, because pretty much all programs you see on any over the air, cable or satellite network are recorded live and scheduled for Linear Streaming at a later time.   Now this is where I cut a fine line when referring to Streaming because there is a difference between Linear Streaming and Video-On-Demand Streaming.

Linear Streaming is a “passive” video viewing experience, meaning you don’t “search and click” (well except to change the channel).  With Linear Streaming the video content comes to you and while you can change the channel, you don’t have to select an entire collection of videos to watch.  It is the difference between “leaning forward” where you are making the selections and “leaning back” where programming is send your way.

Linear Streaming is still the leading way for video content to be discovered.  This area is still dominated by broadcast, cable and satellite providers or what so many are calling Pay-TV, which to me as another term I will tackle in the future.

Video Streaming

Video on-demand Streaming

Video on-demand Streaming has been the fast growing segment of video viewing, but it is important that a clear distinction is made on how this has changed how content is delivered, but also how it still relays heavily on Broadcast Streaming.

First, let me separate YouTube from this mix.  YouTube is a ground-breaking site that have driven innovation and inspiration in the video viewing market, however, its true value doesn’t match its impact.  Meaning, video discovery is still almost impossible unless you build own audience, YouTube does very little to support your marketing unless you reach the top levels.  That being said, I am going to move onto what I feel is the commercial definition of Video on-demand Streaming

Sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video are right on target for what I define as Video on-demand Streaming.  These sites are not Live Streaming or Broadcast Streaming video content; everything on these sites is “search and click”.  Most of the content on these sites was originally viewed through Broadcast Streaming so they are known “entertainment titles”, although there are some original series that have come from these sites that are amazing.

The distinction is that Video on-demand Streaming is not a direct competitor to Broadcast Streaming.  Most Video on-demand Streaming sites stand on the shoulder of traditional Broadcast Streaming content and provide an ease of viewing and time shifting.


While these definitions may not be super important, having an understanding of them might give you some conversation for your next cocktail hour.  Show off your deep knowledge of video streaming.