What is streaming media?
Streaming media is an increasingly popular means of delivering content over the Internet. It normally involves content being broadcast from a service like Youtube, Apple TV, ABC iView or Foxtel on an Xbox 360. It also includes setups where your content is stored in one location, and you're able to 'stream' it to another location (like you might with a Slingbox or similar).
While it hasn't always been the case, home internet speeds are now sufficient to comfortably support the streaming of high definition video. With the rollout of high speed internet throughout Australia, more services are likely to become available, and streaming media is likely to become a more popular way to consume media in living rooms.
How does streaming media work?
Streaming media doesn't require an entire media file - instead, it loads and stores (or 'buffers') a portion of the content you're watching or listening to, allowing you to watch a movie or TV show without interruption. This means of content delivery also lets you skip to different parts of the movie or song without having to download the entire file - or to jump on and watch a live streaming 'feed' as you would a regular TV channel.
How do I get streaming media?
At the moment there are a few options available - some of which require a computer or smartphone (like ABC iView or YouTube), some of which require a dedicated streaming media device (like Apple TV), and some of which make use of gaming consoles (like Foxtel on Xbox 360). 'Smart TVs' are also available, which allow you to connect directly to the internet and access streaming content without the need for other streaming devices.
Most free-to-air TV channels offer some or all of their shows for free as streaming media over the internet. Some services, particularly those that allow you to watch newly released movies or high-profile sporting events may require a monthly subscription, or may charge you for the right to view a certain movie or program whenever you choose over a given timeframe (perhaps a couple of days).