Being able to download high-quality audio and video content was made possible by advances in Internet access technology, and it allows users to obtain the necessary data in one attempt before returning at a later point to enjoy it. However, there are a number of situations where this is not desirable for either the broadcaster or the consumer. From the publisher's point of view, copyright concerns may dictate that content cannot be stored permanently, while consumers may not have the data storage capacity to keep large quantities of information (tablets, smartphones). Streaming technology bypasses a number of these concerns, without any loss in terms of the broadcast quality of the content.
The technology is similar in nature to simply downloading a multimedia file from a remote server, with the only real difference being that viewers cannot store it and return at another point in time - it is necessary to access the content again. In a similar manner to accessing live video or audio, the image and sound quality can be adjusted to suit the capabilities of the individual Internet connection, and modern streaming technology also allows the viewing device to handle some of the processing burden for content. High Definition video is a great example of this, as modern computers are able to deliver the best possible viewing experience while also alleviating pressure on the data network.
When streaming first became a popular method of delivering content, it was relatively easy to bypass downloading restrictions and obtain a permanent download of the material. As the technology has improved, sophisticated web design methods have allowed the streams to be deeply embedded into a website, and as a result it is now extremely difficult to get around these important copyright elements - unless it is desirable for the publisher to offer a 'download only' version of the content. Users can be given a certain amount of flexibility during their viewing experience, such as the ability to rewind and pause content, but again this is entirely at the discretion of the publisher or content owner.
Streaming broadcast systems are already used by a huge number of organisations for their audio and video material, and it is easy to implement paid-for access. Free trailers or 'taster' streams whet the customer's appetite by encouraging them to make a full purchase, and they can be granted access for a pre-determined period of time, similar to the physical rental of a DVD or CD. With downloading restrictions in place, there is practically no risk of copyright infringement, and music and videos can also be offered free of charge by placing advertising directly into the stream.
The most appealing element of streaming is that all of these features can be combined to offer publishers the ultimate level of flexibility over their content. For example, free and paid-for content can be offered at the same time with the introduction of marketing materials, and customers can be encouraged to take out a subscription to 'remove' the advertising. Streaming and downloads can also be combined to offer users a range of access options.
For more about streaming media please visit the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaming_media