Streaming TV lets you watch your favorite shows or web series over the Internet. Most smart TVs have built-in streaming apps like Netflix to help you stream your favorite content. But, if you are into watching more diversified content you may need a separate streaming service or a dedicated device.
However, you must pay a certain amount to subscribe to those streaming services. So, if you are wondering if you could get more bang for the buck, we have got you covered.
What is Streaming TV?
Streaming is when you watch content with the help of an active Internet connection. While you are streaming on a TV, the contents are not stored on the local storage of your TV. Rather, the audio and video data are fetched from the streaming server in real time.
While you can normally watch TVs with an active cable connection from a cable service provider, streaming requires you to have a specific streaming app on your TV and an active Internet subscription package to use it. Unlike watching TV, streaming TV provides you the flexibility of watching your favorite shows whenever you want.
Types of Streaming TV
- Live TV Streaming: Live TV streaming allows you to watch the live broadcast of any ongoing event around the world in real time over the Internet. There are different service providers that facilitate live TV streaming like Hulu Plus, YouTubeTV, and DirecTV.
- On-demand TV Streaming: As the name states, it allows you to stream content on your demand. You choose the content you wish to play and it starts streaming right away. Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix are some of the on-demand TV streaming service providers.
- Free Streaming: While live and On-demand streaming are paid streaming services, you can also enjoy a variety of content with free TV streaming. Some free streaming services are Pluto TV, Peacock, and Roku channel.
Requirements for Streaming TV
You can start to stream the TV whether you own the latest or an older model of TV. But there are certain requirements you need to fulfill before you can start streaming.
The most vital thing is the Internet connection. Subscribe to a higher bandwidth Internet package that lets you easily stream the content in real-time. We recommend you get an Internet package anything above 25 Mbps that will help you stream 4K contents as well.
And next is the streaming service. There are different streaming applications like Netflix built-in on the TV that allows you to stream your favorite content. In case you want to stream content that is not available on Netflix, you can opt to use streaming gadgets like Roku and Google Chromecast. They cost you a few bucks but are far more reliable.
However, your TV must have an HDMI port to use those devices. Almost all modern TVs have an HDMI port that allows you to connect streaming devices. But don’t worry if your TV does not have an HDMI port. It will obviously have RCA jacks (Red, White and Yellow connectors). You can purchase an HDMI to RCA cable converter and use it to connect the streaming devices.
How Does Streaming Work?
Now that you know what the streaming service is and the requirements to stream on your TV, let’s learn how it works. When you stream on your TV, the contents are not directly aired from the service provider like in cable TV. Rather, the streaming service maintains a cluster of servers across different geographic locations which helps broadcast content to your TV on demand. In technical terms, we call the mechanism a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
For instance, if you are trying to stream content on Netflix from any US state, Netflix will try to connect to the server that is most near to that state and help deliver content. This way, there are no overheads of fetching data from the server at the farthest location. It helps reduce data usage and buffering issues due to latency.
Meanwhile, there are special protocols like TCP and UDP used by those servers to get the content to your TV. Most streaming service providers like Netflix use TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) since it is time sensitive and helps maintain data ordering and reliability. YouTube uses both TCP and UDP (User Datagram Protocol). UDP helps transmit data at a higher speed than TCP and is preferred where speed matters more than reliability.
Once you start streaming, the audio or video that you are trying to stream is fragmented into packets by the servers. These packets are then compressed using lossless compression to maintain originality. However, depending on the file size, lossy compression can be used to increase data transmission speed and reduce bandwidth consumption.
Now when the data packets reach your TV, they are queued in a buffer memory. Once the buffer size is large enough to convert to audio or visual content, TV starts playing it.
Pros and Cons of Streaming TV
There are certain pros and cons of streaming TV that you should know. It will help you decide if you need to subscribe to a streaming service or not. We have listed some of them below.
- Watch your favorite show at your convenience
- Ad-free watching
- Parental control on inappropriate content
- Watch contents that have not yet been aired on TV
- Does not consume local storage space.
- Stops content piracy
- Possible to use the same streaming account on multiple devices
- Choose from a wide range of streaming service providers like Hulu and Sling
- Play/Pause and Fast forward/Rewind the content as per your requirements
- Need to take subscription
- Social isolation due to TV addiction
- Buffering issues due to slower Internet
- Some contents are geo-restricted
Streaming Vs Downloading
Provided that you have a stable Internet connection, streaming TV is far more efficient and reliable than downloading. You don’t need to wait for a download to complete to start watching your favorite shows. Simply launch the streaming application on your TV and start watching.
Moreover, downloading requires you to have a considerable amount of free space on the TV. But that’s not the case with streaming. Nothing is stored locally. You watch the content in real-time and end up watching the content in real time.
Likewise, not every content on the Internet can be downloaded and watched locally on your TV. If you used any third-party applications to download and watch such content on TV, it would be considered illicit.
But, with streaming, you are paying your streaming service provider a certain amount to watch those contents. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about laws and regulations while streaming.
Meanwhile, downloading audio or video files that you stream frequently can help reduce data consumption. It is because the data consumption is nearly equivalent whether you download or stream.
If you choose to stream, the content must be retrieved from the server every time you watch it. It will consume more data than while watching a downloaded file. Downloading is only a one-time data investment and you can watch the content even when you do not have an Internet connection.