What is Video Streaming and How does it Work?

Video streaming allows the user to download video content while watching it. This saves time on buffering and enables the content to be viewed online, rather than saving it to a device.

As the global appetite for online video continues to explode, content delivery network providers must find new media streaming solutions in order to provide the video streaming services that this growing online audience demands.

User expectations could hardly be more daunting: audiences want to be able to access the highest quality video on any device, in any location – without having to wait for it.

When we download a video file, a copy of the entire file is saved to the device’s hard drive. This means that users cannot view the file until it has been downloaded in its entirety. If the modern-day user is forced to wait for content, he or she may go elsewhere – resulting in lost conversions. With streaming, the file loads a little at a time, providing a real-time viewing experience and satisfying customers. Many of us view content while we’re “on the go”, on our mobile devices, so we no longer have time to wait for buffering.

How to stream video on my website

The first task for enterprises is to use a content delivery network (CDN). This helps to distribute content evenly across multiple servers in different geographical locations. As a result, users accessing content from all over the world can stream more efficiently.

CDN providers then need to ensure that they choose a solution that scales easily. This is because content could easily go viral, in the same manner that an ecommerce site may experience floods of traffic during sales periods.

A streaming media solution provides a dynamic network environment whereby video content can be delivered in multiple formats, for example Apple HLS or MPEG Dash. In addition, streaming media solutions need to be able to navigate issues such as latency, congestion and packet loss. Akamai can provide these solutions through its Adaptive Media Delivery service.

How to embed streaming video on my website

Embedding a video onto your website involves placing a piece of code within your own, rendered through an external video streaming service. However, you can skip this by choosing a streaming host instead, such as Akamai’s Adaptive Media Delivery service.

This solution provides easy access to high quality video streaming services on any device, anywhere in the world. Optimized for Adaptive Bitrate streaming, this Akamai solution enables video streaming services on a broad variety of network types, both fixed and mobile, through a range of connection speeds. Offering superior availability, scalability, reliability, and reach, Adaptive Media Delivery delivers video streaming services in formats that include Microsoft's Smooth Streaming, Adobe's HDS, Apple's HLS, and the MPEG-DASH format.

What a good video streaming host provides

The average internet user spends 88% more time on a website with video, so it’s essential to get this right. Akamai’s Adaptive Media Delivery combines the essential features that enable superior video streaming services to deliver high quality content to your customers:

  • Proximity to the audience. Akamai minimizes the impact of network congestion, latency and packet loss through a network of edge servers deployed deep within more than 1,200 service provider networks around the world. With a large number of Points of Presence – from 20 to 100 times more than any other global CDN provider – we are able to put servers closer to the audience for higher quality video streaming services.
  • Quality developed through experience. Over the past 15 years, we have helped provide video streaming services for some of the largest online events in the world – the kind of events that have set records for online capacity and scale. Adaptive Media Delivery leverages this experience to stay ahead of the online audience demand.
  • Reliable capacity and scale. Our ability to deliver extraordinary capacity and to scale to meet demand has earned us the business of some of the world's biggest brands who know that "going viral" is only a good thing if your video streaming services can reliably handle the traffic and demand.

Learn more about Akamai products, or browse specific solutions for application delivery network and solutions for the application service provider.