How Streaming Services Work - Your Guide to Smart Streaming


In case you are confused with how streaming services work and are overwhelmed by the number of services on offer, then read on. We will go through everything related to streaming services, streaming devices, and streaming services for live TV.


What are streaming services?


How streaming services work is by offering original and syndicated video content in the form of movies or series. This can range from the Stranger Things series on Netflix to the syndicated Two and a Half Men series on the same service.


Some of the best streaming services out there include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Disney+, Showtime, and more. With content such as What If... (Disney+) and Rutherford Falls (Peacock).

How Streaming Services Work
How Streaming Services Work

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Let us start with the OG streaming service Netflix. Netflix was basically a Blockbuster clone, they rented out DVDs to customers that were dispatched through the mail. Netflix was always ahead of its time as you can see since Blockbuster used to get most of its business through brick-and-mortar stores but Netflix used its website.


Then came the game-changing decision for Netflix to stream some of their movies and video content using the internet in 2007. It was around this time that Blockbuster was in financial trouble and ended up shuttering operations in 2010.


Next was Hulu, in 2008, which opened up streaming services in collaboration with various bigwigs such as AOL, Comcast, and Facebook with NBC and Fox joining as content distributors.

One thing people always discount is the rise of internet connectivity - I'm talking speed and prevalence. Internet became a need as opposed to a want, growing infrastructure exponentially for faster networks. With each passing day, Netflix became more valuable and other streaming entities came into existence and is still a growing trend today.


Basically, streaming services are content providers who provide audio-visual content through the internet. The content can be movies and series from TV networks and production houses or it can be funded and created by the streaming service itself. Netflix was at the forefront of innovation again by creating an original series " House of Cards" and streaming it exclusively on their service. This was a landmark decision as the success of this content inspired several other streaming services to create their own content from Prime Video to Showtime.


How do streaming services make money?


Subscription fees are the only way that streaming services can make any real money. Even if streaming services offer a freemium model, the money from ad revenues can't fuel a sustainable business model. This is why Netflix is on top right now, they started out early and kept innovating whenever they could. Now they are one of the few streaming services (or only) that are profitable. The granularity in their subscription helps a lot as well - such as mobile-only, or the number of screens per subscription. People can even buy an expensive plan and split the expense among family or friends to justify the cost. Considering the wide range of content they have Netflix is definitely worth it. It's the Rolls Royce of streaming services.


What are streaming devices?


The trend these days is to access multiple channels using devices that stream video from other streaming services or just enable streaming live TV. These are devices that you hook up to anything with an HDMI port - so mainly either your laptop or TV - smart or otherwise.


To get streaming services to work, use some of the best streaming devices include Google's Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon's Firestick.


How Streaming Services Work
Streaming Devices


What are the various streaming services on Apple TV?


Now you might have streamed Ted Lasso on another service and wondered if apple TV was like Netflix. Nope - Apple TV is a streaming device like Chromecast or Firestick, that can be used only on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

How Streaming Services Work
The Almighty Apple

Using Apple TV with a subscription, you can access many live channels such as BBC Select, Paramount+, Cinemax, Comedy Central Now, CuriosityStream, Apple TV+, and more.

Another thing to remember is that while Apple TV supports services such as Netflix and Hulu, it just means you can access them as apps on your device. What you will not get, is a subscription to these services, needing you to pay for the privilege.


The best streaming services for live tv


For those of you who want to join everyone in the 21st century and believe cable for TV is a step back in the evolution of viewing, there's live TV! Basically, these services make use of a streaming device ( for a TV) or directly work on a laptop or tablet to stream live TV channels over the net.

Live TV Streaming Services
Live TV Streaming Services

Some of the most popular streaming services for live tv are YouTube TV, Sling TV, and fuboTV. These services have membership plans that you can pay monthly or yearly.

Wondering - Isn't this exactly why we cut the cable connection? to escape membership fees? The upsides of using streaming services for live TV include greater control over TV plans that might include other streaming services that come bundled. Another thing is the use of internet for live TV is always better than satellite reception since there will be consistency in transmission. These days more and more people are gaining access to high-speed net connections.


How do streaming services, devices, and streaming services for live TV interconnect?


If you have been living under a rock for the past ten years, you might need to read this to understand the relationship between streaming services and devices. Firstly all the video content you watch is on services such as Netflix and Prime Video - they make great content (mostly series) consistently and are fun. Now, these can be viewed directly on a smart TV, smartphone, and tablet.


But what about your TV that's a nice flat screen without smart functions? That's where these streaming devices come in - physical attachments for your "almost smart, but not quite" TVs. The most popular ones are Firestick, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku. You can think of them as the USB adaptors used for wifi on your old desktop - they are basically net adaptors for streaming services and channels.


Streaming services, devices and live TV
Streaming services, devices and live TV


What are streaming services for sports?


You have to understand that the same streaming services that provide live channels and independent streaming services also transmit live sports events and do sports coverage. Streaming services such as Hulu, YouTube TV, FuboTV, and ESPN+ provide sports coverage with only ESPN+ specializing in sports (obviously).


What do I do with my Tata Sky, Direct TV, or other direct satellite broadcast service?



If you have been a customer of direct broadcasting services, you might have to weigh the pros and cons of the service compared to the other net-based services available. There might be a lot of channels that you find only on a particular direct broadcasting service and only a few series you watch on one or two streaming services. In this case, it would make sense to retain your Tata Sky connection and subscribe to a couple of streaming services you watch on a regular basis.

If most of the channels you watch can be obtained on a live TV streaming service, then you can go ahead and replace them accordingly. Do this only if your live TV streaming service provides most of the channels you watch at a lower price.

Screen sharing a phone on a TV
Screen sharing a phone on a TV

In case you are like me, watch only on your smartphone and rarely ever fire up the big TV, it's time to cut the cord! Only subscribe to a few streaming services per month and hunt for deals on the rest including those for live TV.


The cons of going full streaming are the complete dependence on the internet and high net speeds. Another thing to watch out for is subscribing to services that you rarely watch. I will probably never renew my Voot subscription as I've barely opened the app a couple of times.


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