Many traditional television stations offer both HD (high definition) and SD (standard definition) channels for the same content. Viewers can manually select which one they’d like to view, or the service might automatically redirect viewers to an HD broadcast.
Streaming, on the other hand, uses adaptive bitrate technology to automatically select the bitrate and resolution based on the device and available internet resources of each viewer. Not only does this ensure that everyone gets the best broadcast possible for their circumstances, it allows the stream to dynamically switch up and down in quality as their connectivity changes. This is what makes streaming possible on both mobile devices running on 4G LTE and home theaters plugged into high-speed internet.
Streaming vs. Broadcasting: Ease-of-Use
Anyone with access to an internet-connected device can view streaming media. And while the requirements for broadcasting streams change with the complexity and scale of the content being distributed, there’s a low barrier to entry for anyone getting started.
Viewing traditional broadcasts might require a converter box, a cable or satellite set-top box, a satellite dish, or cable wiring. These broadcasts cannot be viewed on mobile devices, unless the provider is using a streaming app to reach additional viewers.
Streaming vs. Broadcasting: Interactivity and Use Cases
Streaming has pushed video content consumption from a passive pastime into an engaging activity. Interactive use cases include esports, social media, trivia apps, live commerce, you name it! Innovators have only begun to explore the number of ways this technology can be used to transform the digital user experience.
Streaming also opens up new monetization opportunities. In addition to ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view services, some content distributors generate revenue from different means altogether. Examples of this include Peloton, the exercise equipment distributor that sells both a product and a service tied into one. The product, a stationary bike with a 22-inch touchscreen, allows users to stream live and on-demand exercise classes via a monthly subscription service. The genius of this strategy is that Peloton manages to secure big, one-time purchases and small, subscription-based revenue in one fell swoop.
Traditional broadcasting, on the other hand, remains stuck in the paradigm of one-way communication (save a few tactics like inviting viewers to vote online or enter to win a prize).
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