What is Streaming and How Does it Work?

Posted by Khanyi Molomo on Jun 25, 2019 2:39:31 PM
Khanyi Molomo

Streaming allows users to listen to music or watch videos in "real-time." Or at least, as close to real time as possible. The reason why we love it so much is that it was designed with the 21st-century user in mind.

Are you interested in watching sports, a concert, or any other crucial live event? Through streaming, it's all possible, and the best part is that you don't have to wait for hours or even minutes to start watching the content.

To fully grasp how unique this new technology is, it's essential to understand the alternative to streaming.

Traditional Downloading vs. Streaming

We're all familiar with the traditional downloading system. If you wanted to access an app, music video, purchase music, or get a game on your mobile device, you first needed to download the media content.

You'd then have to wait until it's fully downloaded before you can begin to watch, listen to, or play the media file. Well, we don't have time for that and thank goodness there's now an alternative.

Streaming is the fastest way to access the content you want from the internet. You don't necessarily have to download the media to your computer, TV, or mobile device before you're able to watch it.

How is this possible?

Streaming accesses the content bit by bit. Think of platforms such as Netflix or Spotify. The reason why you're able to listen to music or watch the shows immediately is that the downloading of this media is happening bit by bit in real-time. This means that if you have internet with a steady line speed, whatever media you're downloading can complete the download process before you've finished watching the show.

So, the critical difference is that, unlike with traditional downloads, you don't have to wait until for entire song or video has finished downloading, before you start viewing or listening - you get to jump straight in and enjoy.

What are the Network Requirements for Streaming?

Several requirements need to be met if you want to stream successfully. The various software, hardware, and network requirements differ, depending on the streaming site and the content you're trying to access.

When it comes to network requirements, you'll need a stable internet connection, but thankfully today with the likes of fibre our internet speeds drastically increasing while the costs are reducing.

The streaming site you're using will dictate the minimum speed required for a successful, uninterrupted, buffering-free streaming.

If you're interested in streaming standard definition videos, a network speed of at least 4 Megabits per second will deliver you a smooth connection. While 4K and HD content will require higher connections.

You can check out this link for more on the different internet speeds required for streaming.

Some Popular Services

There are several available services in South Africa, and more are on their way (Keep an eye on Disney), some of which you've probably already used or at least heard of.


Launched in August 2015, Showmax has fast become one of the most loved platforms as it was the first to bring us great shows like Game of Thrones directly to us viewers in South Africa. You can access their favourite TV shows, films, and more on the platform. Streaming on Showmax is also easy to do. Once you've set up your account and have downloaded the app, you're good to go. For a step by step guide on Showmax streaming, you can check out this blog post.



YouTube Premium

YouTube just got a lot better, it is one of the biggest and most popular on the list. Users from all over the world can share their content live on the platform. But now with YouTube premium, you have access to YouTube original shows like The Thinning & Dangerous Woman Diaries as well as YouTube Premium music.




Twitch was introduced in 2011 and allowed users to live stream video content. It's commonly used for game tutorials and software development learning. What makes it super cool is that it helps learners to be able to interact with the instructor and with each other, all in real-time.




Netflix is a streaming service that allows you to watch a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, documentaries, and more. With Netflix, you can enjoy unlimited viewing of our content without having to watch a single commercial. There's always something new to discover, and more TV shows and movies are added every month!



Google Play Movies & TV

With Google Play Movies & TV, you can watch what you love, wherever you are. You will have access to hundreds of TV Shows and Movies to rent or own. Entertainment at your finger tips.



There are So Many Reasons Why We Love It

Streaming has to be one of the coolest technologies of our lifetime. Who would have thought that people from different parts of the world would be able to view the same content at the same time? As crazy as this may sound, this technology is here, and we're absolutely loving it!

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Topics: Streaming