The way we consume media has changed rapidly, especially over the last few decades. If in the past everyone gathered in front of a television or a radio set to spend a moment of entertainment or catch up on the world’s news, today anyone can use their smartphone or another device to watch movies, listen to music, read newspapers or books.
This evolution transformed behaviors, communication, and the entire media and entertainment production industry. And behind this evolution, it is necessary to have increasingly powerful technological support.
But what is streaming?
Streaming is the name given to the technology that transmits file data such as music, text, and video over the Internet, in “real-time”, without the need to download the content to a device. The most popular examples of streaming today are Netflix, Spotify, Tik Tok, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, also known as OTT (Over The Top), an English expression that means: excessive, excessive, i.e. it is used to designate business models that generate value in the transmission of data over the Internet.
It seems simple, but it is not.
As with other data transmission systems, streaming, audio, text, static images, and video files are divided into small parts and sent separately over the network. Once a device receives this packet, the player has the function of joining them again, returning them to their original format.
In order for users not to receive a file in half, this data transport must be fast. Many player systems use the buffering function, which loads videos or music even before they are played, thus providing a better sense of continuity. If there are connection problems, players lower the quality of the content to avoid pauses in loading. However, in live streaming, there is no pre-loading: everything happens live and any disturbance in the connection affects the data transmission.
A 100-year history
Hardly anyone remembers it, but the radio was the first streaming medium created towards the end of the 19th century, mainly for military purposes. The technology evolved into a user-oriented interface that reigned in homes for many decades. Around 1920, U.S. Major General George Owen Squier patented a system for transmitting and distributing signals over power lines to provide music to listeners without using a radio, allowing control over who would consume the service.
Then came television, which established itself in the 1950s as one of the most important technological and cultural advances of the 20th century. But its story, undoubtedly, can only be told because there was screaming.
The evolution of streaming accompanied technological advances in the world, such as the advent of the Internet, and it became dependent on a connection to play multimedia titles and live broadcasts.
Services grew at an accelerated pace around the world and the pandemic added more speed to this trajectory. The thought of CDs and DVDs seems like a thing of the distant past; so great is the power of change in entertainment consumption habits.
With the increased social isolation caused by the pandemic, the number of minutes per week of paid video (via streaming) skyrocketed. To understand the dimension of this growth, Latin America will have 81 million video-on-demand (SVOD) and OTT subscriptions by 2025, almost double the 42 million registered at the end of 2019.
These platforms require a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to support such high numbers of queries. This is one of the solutions we offer at Lumen to support our industry customers. Supported by our IP backbone, our CDN is a solution that optimizes your resources to achieve mass data delivery around the world, reliably.
This technology makes it easier for content generators to maintain the stability of their service with international connections, thus ensuring a good experience for their consumers, whether watching a movie or broadcasting an online class for thousands of users. In other words, streaming is present. And so is the future.
What’s to come?
Alternative streaming markets are entering this growth trend. One of them is live commerce – the intersection between retail and entertainment. This format has been gaining popularity in China with major retail players organizing online lives to promote a veritable festival of discounts.
Another example is cloud gaming. The gaming industry is already largely integrated with video streaming, including a community of 7.5 million gamers who watch and stream games via Twitch. Now, the trend is for technology to be present in the very act of gaming thanks to the marriage of 5G and Artificial Intelligence technologies. Over the next three years, the global cloud gaming market is expected to grow from US$500 million to nearly US$5 billion by 2023¹.
To continue to support this traffic growth, Lumen nearly quadrupled its CDN capacity in Latin America. It is also expanding its content delivery network to meet the growing demands of global broadcasters, OTT platforms, and gaming companies to offer high-performance web applications, ultra-high-definition video streaming, and game downloads.
Last year, we added 260 more racks in data centers in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina, providing customers with additional space to host servers, network devices, and other IT equipment.