Streaming Media Demystified / Edition 1

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With uncommon skill, Michael Topic's excellent guide takes you inside today's essential killer app. More than just an implementation guide -- though it certainly is that, packed with needed data on the latest formats and standards -- Streaming Media Demystified offers a complete picture of the application that will soon threaten television's dominance as the primary transmitter of video. With future potential bigger than television, streaming video over the Internet is the essential application for broadband and 3G. This book takes you inside a billion-dollar technology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071388771
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 5/29/2002
  • Series: Demystified Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 525
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

The Medium

2.1 What is Streaming Media?

Ask a dozen people what streaming media is and you are likely to get a dozen different answers. In it's most basic definition, the only difference between streaming media and media that you have in its entirety before accessing it, is that with streaming, you can begin to access the media before you have received it all. In other words, while you are watching, the rest is arriving.

In the world of terrestrial television and radio, the media always did stream. Even where analogue transmission is used, your receiver is continuously receiving "data", while simultaneously displaying what it already has. With an analogue television, what is displayed is, for all intents and purposes, pretty much what is currently being received. This has changed a little with digital television, because the data consists of binary numbers, which can, theoretically, be stored, but the average digital television receiver doesn't store very much. Again, what you are viewing is pretty much what is currently being received. Streaming is the default.

Why does streaming matter? Who cares if you get to see what you are downloading before you have it all? The answer lies in the rich array of digital media types that have been invented, the vastly expanded range of available "channels" for distribution of that digital media provided by the Internet and the myriad ways that this digital media can be received and rendered for consumption. With a streaming model, the consumer of streaming media has the freedom to shift their attention to another stream almost instantaneously. You can effectively channel surf through all the kinds of streaming media that exist, just as you can flip channels on a television.

Once, media consisted of radio, television, books, newspapers, magazines, records and videotapes. All of these were essentially analogue, in that when you made copies, there was always some loss of quality involved. Also, the product was manufactured and distributed through a vast, expensive and slow network, owned and controlled by a handful of powerful media companies. With analogue media, the producer of the content had great control and the most profitable products were those that appealed to a mass audience, since economies of scale applied to the manufacturing and distribution of media products.

The advent of the desktop computer created an opportunity for the invention of new media types - digital media. Digital media includes digital versions of all the old media types we've already talked about, plus it adds new ones like three dimensional interactive multi-player games, virtual reality, live video chat, synchronized multimedia, animated vector graphics and computer generated imagery. Digital media, when copied, can be a perfect reproduction of the original and distribution is via communications networks, not as physical freight. Suddenly, the economics of production and distribution of digital media and access to the means of mass distribution have swung in flavor of the small producer. Now it is possible to profitably and logistically address niche audiences, not just the mass market. Not only that, but new types of digital media are being invented all the time, creating new user experiences and applications; spawning new business opportunities and growth potential.

With old media, the only way to get it was to tune in to a broadcast (either through the air or on a cable network) or by purchasing a physical object (tape, newspaper or record). This meant that consumer choice was limited to what the owner of the broadcast medium wanted to show you. The broadcaster dictated what things would be shown and when. Consumer choice was also limited to whatever the manufacturers of physical media wanted to make (often, these were the same companies). Distribution of media was a non-trivial financial undertaking and the media was geared toward serving mass audiences, as we have already noted. People like what they know, so vast amounts of money were spent making sure that the public knew about products that the producers wanted to ship in volume. The more they knew about them, the more they bought. Broadcasting was harnessed in the service of promoting the sale of physical media products.

With digital media, it can be served to you on the Internet, either via phone lines and modem, via a cable modem, via a digital television broadcast (DTV) carrier, through cell phone networks, through ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line), via optical fiber connection, on a corporate Ethernet, via satellite, using infrared networks or via wireless LAN (Local Area Network) connections. Remember, these distribution paths are only the ones that carry TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) traffic, where the digital media is carried in small packets conforming to this widely used communications protocol.

The fact that streaming media payloads are broken into tiny little packets of data for delivery presents some very significant problems. The Internet was designed to be resilient. Data is broken up into small packets and each packet finds it's own route to the end user. The Internet was designed this way so that if part of the network was destroyed or busy, subsequent packets could follow other routes. The lost packets could also be resent, the packets all assembled back into the correct order by the receiver and the payload recovered in its entirety with no loss. But if there are packets that get lost and must be resent, you cannot stream. The loss of even one of these packets causes the pictures to freeze. Buffering can help, so that you have enough time to resend and recover data lost during transmission before anybody notices, but the longer the buffer, the less responsive the streaming player feels. It starts to feel less like changing a television channel and more like waiting for a download.

Part of the answer to this fundamental problem has been the invention of protocols to ensure quality of service. These protocols, like RTSP and MPLS, will be discussed later in the book. Suffice it to say that they attempt to maintain the integrity of the stream and hence allow streaming to take place uninterrupted.

In addition to these new network and communications technologies, there are new digital techniques for transmitting television and radio, as well as a plethora of new and emerging optical techniques to service the telecommunications industry. Add to these digital tape formats and CD (Compact Disk) and DVD (Digital Video Disk or Digital Versatile Disk, depending on who you ask and when) optical storage technologies and you soon discover that there are more ways to get a stream of digits to the end user, at varying costs, than ever before. The provision of ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth to each and every consumer does not seem to have reached any discernable limit yet. Companies are out there laying cables, installing satellite receivers and making offers to consumers to give them higher bandwidth connections. There also doesn't seem to be any decrease in the number of new digital distribution schemes being invented either. Digital media can be delivered via the Internet, using terrestrial digital television channels, on a cell phone network, through your cable television connection or via satellite. These distribution schemes use different techniques for carrying the data along the physical medium (modulation is the technical term) and different protocols to ensure the data has been delivered successfully. In other words, the future will be one of more data paths with higher capacity; capable of delivering digital media, in more and varied ways, almost anywhere you are, anytime.

With analogue electronic media, you experienced it by turning on a receiver and selecting the program you wanted, or else you placed your physical tape or record into a player that played it. You had to buy a special machine to render those electronic media products into sound and pictures. With the vast array of digital media types, there are a greater number of potential user experiences, delivered via a multitude of different delivery paths. Does the consumer buy a special receiver for every conceivable combination of digital media type and delivery path? Right now, you do, unless you accept the limitations of using a general-purpose personal computer to receive and render all of the digital media experiences out there. If you have a DVD, you put it into a DVD player. If you watch digital video, you do that with a set top box. For your digital audio, you need a portable CD or MP3 player. Because of the cost and inconvenience of having to own a different device to receive each kind of streaming digital media, people have had to make choices and ignore some of the digital media available. However, as the digital media content production industry evolves and consumer electronics manufacturers begin to better understand digital media, new types of receiver, capable of receiving digital media in different ways and rendering it to user experiences wherever the consumer happens to be located, will be designed. The home PC is probably the most versatile digital media receiver yet made, since it can handle almost all of the digital media types available, given the right hardware interfaces. However, as a consumer appliance that must live at the other end of the living room opposite a sofa, it falls short of the ideal. The idea of a home streaming media gateway has much more appeal, since it can interface to all of the data pipes entering the home, store content of interest locally and serve the household's lightweight screens and handheld wireless devices directly. The potential for new and exciting consumer appliances is vast.

The same holds true for authoring digital media and delivering it. Today, the media producer has to author separately for each individual media type and delivery channel. In the future, it will be an economic necessity for the digital multi-media producer to repurpose all of his media assets automatically, regardless of the delivery mechanism or the rendering capabilities of the player receiving them. Similarly, media receiving appliances will need to cope with more delivery paths and a wider variety of media types. The design of digital media receivers is the most backward aspect of streaming media, today and possibly the main reason that it has not yet reached critical mass in user acceptance.

For the purposes of this book, we will examine only streaming digital media. A revolution has taken place, driven by Moore's law, in the capacity of cheap receivers to render complex multi-media presentations in real time. The combination of cheap, powerful computing machinery, the invention of new digital media types and the existence of broadband networks has made possible a new kind of medium superior to any that went before. Because media can both stream and be stored economically, it is a very flexible medium suitable for many new applications. Many of these unique applications will be enumerated in this chapter, by way of illustration. In addition, because the distribution networks that can deliver streaming digital media include the broadband Internet, the power structures of existing media empires are under threat. These are sociologically and economically significant characteristics of the streaming medium.

So, streaming media refers to the near-instantaneous delivery of various kinds of digital media, carried to the consumer via a multitude of distribution paths and received on a variety of rendering devices (by rendering, we mean machines that are capable of converting digital media data into something you can see, hear, experience, etc.).

As new digital media types, new distribution infrastructure and new receivers are designed and deployed, streaming media will remain a moving target, changing its identity as technology advances. For this reason, the treatment of streaming media in this book will concentrate not only on existing embodiments, but also those that might happen in the near future. We'll stick to the fundamental characteristics of the medium, rather than debate which current system will prevail.

The following sections in this chapter will define what streaming media is by denoting some of its characteristics and applications. By describing what the media will be like, we'll answer the question "what is streaming media?"

2.1.1 A New Distribution Channel

The best way to think about streaming is as a new way of delivering digital media to an audience. Even though digital television, in fact, streams digital media to a receiver, it is merely aping the characteristics of the analogue channel it replaces. A streaming channel can be much more flexible. It can be both a broadcast infrastructure, in competition with traditional broadcast channels, as well as an extension to the Internet, with added media types, interactivity and speed.

There are a bewildering number of digital media types. If you count all of the standards bodies, proprietary and open, that want to define digital media types for home delivery, including those that want to add interactivity, it numbers well over a dozen. Even though many of these standards for media types offer approximately the same end user experience, they require their own authoring process and often tie themselves to particular distribution standards. There are overlaps in what many of the standards can do. There is a great deal of disunity, at present.

The number of different delivery methods for streaming media also numbers well over a dozen and some media types can be delivered via multiple distribution channels, whereas others cannot. For example, the video payload of digital television, compressed according to the rules of the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) can be sent through the airwaves directly to a set top box on your television as a Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) bit stream. However, that same video payload can be wrapped in TCP/IP packets and delivered to the same set top box, via a cable modem, using Hyper Text Transport Protocol (HTTP). In fact, you could even wrap the video payload, wrapped in TCP/IP packets as the IP payload of a satellite DVB stream, where the set top box would receive a DVB stream which contained internet packets, laden with MPEG compressed video! At the bottom of the heap, it's just data representing moving images. How it gets to you, is a mish-mash of complexity and competing standards.

Finally, streaming media is presented to the end user by a variety of appliances. We've already mentioned the set top box, but we also have to mention PCs (Personal Computers) of various flavors (Windows, Linux and Macintosh, for example) and DVD players. Add to that list games consoles (Sony Playstation, Nintendo and Microsoft X-Box, for example), wireless handsets and web tablets. Many of these appliances receive their media streams and render them in particular, often-proprietary ways, using only one delivery method, whereas others can receive streaming media in from multiple carriers. It follows, then, that not all receivers can render all possible digital media types. Once again, the array of possible combinations is bewildering.

With streaming digital media, it is the end user that experiences the largest amount of complexity and confusion, with the possible permutations and combinations of program, media type, delivery channel, delivery protocol and receiver left to his or her choice. How does granny make sense of all this?

The flip side of complexity is flexibility. The ways in which streaming media can add flexibility is best illustrated by comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the most flexible streaming channel compared to, say, television. A good way to begin to imagine the most flexible streaming delivery method possible is to think of the World Wide Web, but with high quality video and sound.

As with broadcast television, streaming media can "push" programming to the viewer according to a schedule, deliver an immersive and high quality experience and it can address a large viewing audience. Programs can be broadcast live and program makers can use traditional program making techniques to create a streaming media presentation. Access to the program can be controlled using conditional access technologies (using smart cards like you would find on a cable television service, for example). Today, you can literally broadcast a live rock concert direct from a venue to the entire world, while it happens, using streaming media technology.

Unlike broadcast television, however, with flexible streaming media you can access the same video globally, without the need for a different player or any standards conversion. The viewer can request the program on demand and "pull" it from a server. A person can interact with the program or program producer and can even interact with other people currently watching the program or even those who watched it in the past. You can follow links, some of which may be embedded in the video image itself, to other related media or even contact an advertiser and find out more about what they are selling. Other multimedia can be synchronized to the video. You have the freedom to replay sections whenever you want, even if the stream is of a live event and then continue watching from where you left off, or jump to the live stream. It is possible to serve niche audiences with specialist programming even though they might be distributed across the globe. Many more conditional access options are available, so that the producer can control who watches, when and where they watch and how much they pay to watch. The producer of the program can even let you watch for the next month and then no more. The media can be delivered on either wired or wireless networks and the video quality can potentially be much higher than even HDTV (High Definition Television). Because of the open standards for streaming media that exist, compatibility and interoperability issues are less prevalent and everybody has the opportunity to create for the medium. Most importantly, streaming media programs can be located using dedicated search engines and streaming media syndication agents, rather than placing the onus on the viewer to trawl through endless program guides and broadcast schedules. For scheduled events, the viewer can even be e-mailed to notify them when to watch. Finally, if you want to publish a program of your own, you don't need to convince the gatekeepers of the channels, the network owners, to schedule your program for broadcast, you merely post it to a streaming media server and register your media with a search engine. As a program maker, streaming media provides a way to get powerful, emotionally engaging content to a massive number of individuals, either as mess media or as mass customized media. Conversely, it also is economical and feasible to serve niche audiences without having to compete for mass media channel space. Streaming media changes the economics of production and distribution profoundly.

As a new distribution medium, streaming can be both the same as television and yet at the same time completely different. It is a truly flexible way of delivering digital media content to audiences.

2.1.2 No More Downloads

It is important to remember that digital media has been distributed for quite some time, both physically and electronically. In 1969, when CompuServe first started as an online community, digital media artifacts like text documents and later, digital images were already in circulation. Indeed, the act of sending some files on a floppy disk to a friend through the mail constituted a primitive form of digital media distribution. When the Compact Disk emerged in the early 1980s, it became possible to distribute larger amounts of digital media (music) relatively cheaply, albeit on physical media. Distribution of digital media is not new.

The difference between those early digital media distribution methods and streaming is that in the past, it was an all or nothing event. You either had the digital media in its entirety, or else you had nothing. If you used a computer connected to a network service, like CompuServe, you had to download the entire file before you could do anything with it, such as view it or listen to it. For long songs, downloading could take quite a while, given the modem speeds that were once the norm, so if you didn't like what you were downloading, there was no way to tell, until you had downloaded all of it.

Let's contrast downloading to streaming, by examining how the process of streaming actually works. Streaming is, in some senses, just a trick of the light. It's really simply downloading, while playing. The trick is to hide that fact from the end user.

In so-called multi-threaded software, where the computer effectively appears to do two things at once, software engineers can make one part of a computer do the job of obtaining the digital media from a remote source, packet by packet, while another software task is simultaneously sending the data that has already been received to some form of digital to analogue converter, so that a human can view or listen to the media. So long as the software task that is getting the data from the remote source never gets caught holding nothing by the task that renders the data into user experience, the person experiencing the media cannot tell whether the entire digital media asset is in the computer, or just the parts of it that have been received so far. To guarantee that the data-gathering task is never caught by the data rendering task, the data gatherer usually starts some time before the data-rendering task begins to render the data already received. This time difference is called the buffering latency. It is the reason why when you click on a streaming media link on the web, for example, the streaming media player often tells you it is buffering.

Another prerequisite for streaming is that the data-gathering task can provide the data to the data-rendering task at least as quickly as it can consume it. For stereo digital audio at CD quality, that means that the data must flow at a rate of 176,400 bytes per second (which is just under 1.4 Megabits per second). A modem is a device that connects a computer to a phone line, in order to transmit data using the telephone network. Most computers have a modem. At first glance, it would appear that you should not be able to get digital audio to stream at CD quality using a modem that can only deliver a maximum of 56 kilobits of information per second (such as popular modems can do today). There just isn't enough speed to deliver data at 1.4 Megabits per second, which the digital to analogue converters require in order to create CD quality audio for us to listen to. The answer lies in compression technology. The audio data is coded in such a way that it can be transmitted in a smaller amount of data, which can then be reconstructed at least approximately at the receiver, using the right recipe to decode the compressed data into its native raw format.

A final prerequisite for streaming to continue un-interrupted is that the remote source of the data is capable of delivering the data to the data-gathering task at the same rate as it is consumed. Clearly, if the network connection between the data source and the data-gathering task is interrupted, the stream will be interrupted and the stream will stop. In this case, the end user of the media becomes painfully aware that the entire digital media asset is not present on his or her computer. If the user was listening to music, it will simply suddenly become silent.

Streaming digital media, then, is akin to turning on any other utility, like water, gas or electricity. When you want it, you turn it on. No waiting. When you don't want any more, you can turn it off just as easily as turning it on. It can be metered by usage, or else made freely available on an "all you can use" payment plan. Unlike those utilities, however, today the provider pays, not the consumer. This is, of course, an oversimplification. The provider must pay for the capacity to serve streams to an intended audience, in both the cost of servers and the bandwidth to connect those servers to end-users. Advertisers sometimes subsidize these costs, provided they think they can reach an audience that will ultimately buy something from them. Finally, the consumer pays in terms of any connection charges and any on-line charges levied by their Internet Service Provider (ISP), not to mention the cost of buying a PC to receive streaming media in the first place. If streaming digital media becomes the commodity, which delivers our news, entertainment and information, will that model be sustainable or will it change?

2.1.3 Audio/Visual Web Stuff

When most people think about streaming media, they think about audio and video delivered to the desktop of their personal computer. In fact, this kind of streaming media only came into existence after 1995, when companies like RealNetworks were started, to pioneer the creation, delivery and playback of rich media via the Internet.

Web browsers have pieces of software, called streaming media players, which can be installed into them as plug-ins (or which are already built into them), that make it possible to play audio or video. To date, most of the players have been available for free, as a downloaded component. They use proprietary technology and there has been a great deal of effort expended by player vendors to make their particular player the de-facto standard.

The data required by the streaming media player is delivered to the computer often using the very same transfer protocols as those that deliver ordinary web pages (i.e. HTTP). In fact, there are other protocols used for delivering streaming media, like RTP (Real Time Protocol) and RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol), which can allow a user to deliver streaming media with more control.

The development of streaming media has been and will continue to be heavily influenced by the development of Internet protocols and companies that use the IP networks to deliver digital data. New traffic management, media synchronization and quality of service protocols will greatly enhance the end user's experience of streaming media.

Today, a typical home computer with a 56k modem can receive quarter frame video at a frame rate of around 5 frames per second (this temporal resolution results in motion that looks jerky), with a picture size of 320 x 240 pixels (very poor spatial resolution, which makes the pictures look impressionistic, rather than crisp and clear). The same computer can render stereo audio in a quality that approximates FM radio reception (pretty good).

If you have a computer connected to a corporate LAN, it is not uncommon to be able to stream video at 750 kilobits per second, giving full screen pictures at near DVD quality. Audio can be rendered at a quality that is indistinguishable from a compact disk.

In the future, there is no technical barrier to receiving multiple simultaneous video images at better than High Definition Television quality, with full quality digital surround sound on each. Added to that could be synchronized text and graphics, perhaps even overlaid on the moving pictures. In fact, there is nothing about the look of television that cannot be emulated precisely, given sufficient bandwidth from the host to the player and sufficient processing power to allow television's visual gimmicks, like lower third straps, fades, alpha blends, page turns, fly-ins and other digital video effects to be rendered. Many of the latest streaming media players are offering some of those capabilities already.

2.1.4 Web Radio

Many people have encountered streaming media as Internet radio. Audio is streamed constantly as a multicast stream to receivers, once again usually on a computer desktop. A multicast stream is a bit stream that is sent once, but which can be picked up by multiple computers at the same time. Unlike the bulk of the Internet's traffic, it isn't a point-to-point transfer between two parties.

The important aspect of streaming web radio is that it can reach a global audience, for no more than the cost of reaching a local one. Suddenly a vast array of choice and specialized niche programming is available to anyone with the means to listen in. With sophisticated jukebox software and scheduling programs, it isn't even necessary for the broadcaster to have a disk jockey.

Another thing that is easy to do with streaming media, but not so easy with broadcast radio, is the ability to host interactive play lists, where the listeners choose what gets played next. Unfortunately, the performing rights societies, such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) that police the playing of copyright material to public audiences have rules that restrict how often you can play a particular artist, whether or not you can play adjacent tracks by the same artist and so on. If an interactive radio station ignores these rules, they do so at some peril. If they abide by them, they limit choice and appear less than truly interactive to their listeners. Under the current US copyright laws, a radio station cannot allow interactivity, such as skipping songs or rating artists so that they are played more frequently, unless the record companies and copyright holders specifically give direct permission. That means each and every party has to consent. To a webcaster, this is an onerous restriction. The U.S. Copyright office has, so far, declined to settle this question.

In fact, in the earliest days of streaming radio, it wasn't clear what rate the artists and publishers ought to have been paid for each public performance over the Internet. The outcome of this wrangle was that some Internet stations became uneconomic and withdrew service, citing the rates the performing rights agencies wanted to levy, plus the fact that advertisers wanted to pay no more to stream their ads, as a reason. In fact, advertisers were also upset because some of their commercials were being rebroadcast in web streams without authorization. Advertisers had paid actors in some commercials a higher rate if their ads showed up on the Web. Advertisers didn't want to be paying the talent unless they were buying the time.

Some major industry players, such as Clear Channel Communications, have recently resumed streaming. Now they create web-only advertising for their streams. The issue of what web-streaming companies should pay for copyrighted music on the web is currently in arbitration in front of the U.S. Copyright Office. The fee decided upon will be retroactive, stretching back to October 1998. They are not slated to decide the matter until January 2002.

Today, many office employees leave the streaming radio on all day as they work. News feeds could also be streamed in this way, though most web streaming is predominantly music. When wireless broadband networks deploy, it will be possible to stream music to cars. Then it will theoretically be possible to listen to your favorite radio station in a rental car, no matter where in the world you happen to be. You can catch up on local news even when you are abroad. Indeed, with wireless networks and appropriate devices, you could listen to any station in the world, wherever you are, anytime you like. As a competitor to broadcast radio, streaming radio is formidable.

Another future use of web radio is to allow listeners to, for an appropriate fee, capture audio files as they streamed. This would let listeners fill their personal jukeboxes with music they like, so that they could listen to it again, when they aren't connected. This would allow them great flexibility. They would have to pay to store the music, but would avoid the connection charges. In this world, compact disks become a less attractive proposition, since listeners could accumulate the music they like, track-by-track, discarding tracks they don't like. It would be possible to include all of the CD's artwork and notes along with the stream, for display on the device that stores the music. Indeed, with streaming audio, you can store music in less space than would be used on a compact disk, because of compression algorithms commonly used with streaming audio, that didn't even exist when the compact disk standard was laid down.

With Napster, a file sharing utility that allowed people to swap music on-line (in flagrant contravention of copyright laws, more often than not), it was possible to listen to a piece of music while it was downloading, but the limitations of the bandwidth between peers connected via Napster's peer to peer networking software meant that the music almost invariably stopped part of the way through listening, since the speed of the download was not as fast as the speed of playback. When broadband connectivity becomes ubiquitous, this problem will vanish. The copyright issues, however, are likely to be around a little while longer.

Web radio would be alive and thriving today if the regulators and industry bodies could work out their disputes and if broadband networks were widely deployed. However, today the industry waits with baited breath. One day, web radio is going to be great.

2.1.5 Video on Demand

Another killer application that is enabled by streaming media technology is video on demand. Streaming media technology allows you to see any program you want, whenever you want. When video is made available for streaming, it is loaded as a file onto a streaming media server. The server then handles individual connections from machines that connect to it to request a video stream, providing a bit stream containing the video payload to the streaming media player at the other end of the network connection.

The beauty of streaming video on demand is that video material can lie dormant on a server indefinitely, until somebody comes along to play it. There is no need to schedule it for airing. There is no need to attract a certain sized audience to justify the decision to screen it. This means it is possible to make video on even very specialist subjects available all the time, without having to worry about the number of people viewing it at any one time. Not everything has to be a blockbuster.

With digital rights management, it is possible to control access to and collect payment for any video delivered on demand. A video copyright owner can license a viewer to play the video a set number of times, or even to store it. In fact, if the cost of the bandwidth needed to stream a video drops dramatically, there will be little incentive to ever store it at home, since if you want to view it, it will be cheap enough to simply stream it once more.

Today, streaming video can be viewed with a PC. There aren't any television sets or games consoles that can stream video from the Internet. That won't always be the case, however. When broadband connectivity takes hold, there will be a plethora of devices to receive streaming media. Some will be in your living room; some will be in your kitchen and study. Others will connect wirelessly and deliver video on demand to your car, or perhaps to a handheld device while you are on a train or plane.

If in-flight entertainment systems were actually closed streaming video networks, with a video on demand server serving near DVD quality compressed video, they would actually be lighter in weight and less susceptible to dirt, age and vibration than today's tape-based solutions. Passengers could opt to view the streaming media on their laptop computer or handheld device, if they wished, or else the airline could stream to seat back screens as they do now. It would even be possible to provide personal video glasses, in much the same way as they issue headsets for audio, which screened the video onto tiny personal screens set into the glasses frame. A streaming in-flight entertainment system could easily provide audio, video, games, text and so on. As for updating the on-board streaming media server with the latest news and releases, this could be done via satellite while the plane was en route. It would also be simple enough to change a disk pack containing DVDs with all the new entertainment.

When broadband networks with guaranteed quality of service are ubiquitous, when the players are everywhere, not just on the computer desktop and when the regulatory and copyright issues have been ironed out, streaming media on demand is the application of streaming media that could have the largest impact. It is a compelling application and all of the technology already exists.

2.1.6 Distance Learning

The fastest growing education movement in the US is home schooling. Today, roughly 1.5 million children learn at home. The trend is a backlash against a school system that many believe asks too little of students. According to John Taylor Gatto, author of "The Underground History of American Education", schools are "irremediably broken. Built to supply a mass production economy with a docile workforce, they ask too little of children and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy."

Distance learning using streaming media could be the new way that people are educated in the future. The economy demands brainpower. Continuous learning throughout our entire lives, from childhood, into adulthood and even on into retirement will become an essential life skill. Education needs to push human beings to become big, self-directing, independent and able to write their own life script. In the opinion of many, the current schooling system does not and cannot fulfill this role. Distance learning with streaming media content can potentially get people to learn more effectively because learning can be made thrilling.

The major access road to self-development is raw experience. Memorizing notes off the board is not real work. Interacting with the finest instructors available and being challenged to explore knowledge in your own unique way and at your own pace is what streaming distance learning promises.

Today, there are numerous schools and colleges offering distance-learning courses on the web, using streaming media to deliver some of the materials. In the UK, the Open University has used media technology effectively for decades, helping thousands of people obtain qualifications they may not have otherwise obtained. Streaming media offers more flexible and more compelling content creation options. Of course, the courses that have begun to exploit streaming media technology have only scratched the surface of what is possible. With web elements and graphics synchronized and blended with moving video, first class learning materials drawn from the finest minds can be developed. More importantly and uniquely, distance learning with streaming media allows rich collaboration and interaction between students and their peers, or with tutors, in real time. Telepresence is the experience of being present in an environment by means of a communication medium. For the first time, a cost effective technology has become available that supports telepresence and this is the significant feature or streaming media that will take distance learning beyond what is possible with older audio visual media.

When the great and the good begin to make distance-learning materials with high production values, it begs the question "what will happen to mediocre educators and schools?" The answer is that they will be swept away and, for my money, good riddance. However, before that can happen, production tools and techniques will have to become simpler and cost less.

There is undoubtedly money to be made serving niche audiences worldwide with on-demand, high-quality learning materials. One of the first niche applications that will drive the uptake of streaming media technology by the mass market is likely to be distance learning.

2.1.7 Synchronized Multimedia

In the early 1970's, I recall being taken to our local town hall by my father to hear a lecture on science. A popular scientific writer of the day, whose name now escapes me, was on tour lecturing to the workingmen and their families, who lived in the heavy industrial town of my childhood, about the wonders and sheer unimaginable scale of the universe we inhabit. Armed with mere lecture notes, a lectern, a modest public address system, some spotlights and a bank of 35mm slide projectors, he proceeded to enthrall us with dissolves and wipes, as one image melted into another, aided by a dramatic narrative, tasteful lighting effects and the unfathomable darkness of the auditorium itself. I was instantly transported across the vastness of time and space in my imagination, with commentary seemingly from the voice of God himself. It awakened in me a lifelong passion for cosmology and astronomy.

I recount this incident only to illustrate the profound and lasting impact that can be made with simple synchronized multimedia (provided that the subject material is compelling and the presentation authoritative). With streaming media, it is possible to create virtual slide shows more breathtaking than the one that changed my life as a child. Text and graphic elements can be synchronized and timed against video and audio elements, with active links to sidebars that contain more detail about particular elements. Those sidebars may even contain more video. In-picture elements, tied to the field, can be embedded into the video, allowing sophisticated overlays and perhaps even advertisements and product placements to be included, customized for each particular viewer. Indeed, the technology exists to present those synchronized multimedia presentations not just to a PC desktop, but also to an entire auditorium. Using modern digital light projection systems and super high resolution streaming, cinema-like multimedia presentations can be delivered from nothing more powerful than a laptop computer, to a town hall sized audience!

The wonderful sound and light show I experienced as a child earned money for its presenter. He sold tickets, people came and he monetized the value of the information he had to present. Of course, he had to subtract production, travel, equipment and advertising costs, but he made a living at it. There was no other way he could present what he knew to an audience as specialized as the one he attracted at a time when there was only five television channels available to us and where only the popularity of Hollywood blockbuster movies helped local cinemas do a little better than break even.

Today, that same presentation I enjoyed in my youth could be streamed to a worldwide audience, on demand, in a more compelling fashion than ever before. Indeed, the content can be changed so that every single viewer experiences a different path through the presentation. For the presenter, the benefits are obvious. No longer does he have to endure the rigors and privations of life on the road, nor does he have to pay quite so much for the equipment to mount the presentation. However, until pay per view solutions and broadband networks evolve, it is difficult to charge money for the content, as was possible at the town hall. Nevertheless, the technology will undoubtedly arrive soon, at which time expect to see a flood of life-changing synchronized multimedia suddenly available.

The open standards that make synchronized multimedia possible on the web include Dynamic Hyper Text Markup Language (DHTML) and Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). However, there are many others, including proprietary quasi-open standards like, for example, Macromedia's Shockwave. On television set top boxes, interactivity of this type is carried using a number of proprietary and open protocols. There are many, many ways to produce and deliver synchronized multimedia. Indeed, the problem for content producers is the sheer number of incompatible standards for authoring such presentations and the need to use particular tools to cater for each. Content producers currently face the daunting task of recreating their material for each distribution method and standard, or else to limiting their audience by choosing just one of two to support. This acts as a significant barrier to the wider adoption of the technology. There are just too many incompatible ways to do what, to the audience, looks the same. The pressure for standardization is great and will continue to increase, until the problem for content producers is solved.

2.1.8 Simulcast

Part of the content authoring problem is that when you originate a streaming media presentation, you typically author for a specific platform. We have already noted that in the future, the likelihood is that different streaming media receiving devices will render different media types, depending on their capabilities and that this will continue to be the case for quite some time. Imagine now that you have two media receiving devices side by side - one that can render audio only and another that can render video only. The expectation any rational person would have is that the video and audio would play back in sync, even though they might be coming down different distribution systems and even though they are rendered by different, unlinked devices. The other tacit implication is that the content producer authored twice, once for each platform.

Unfortunately, today, there is nothing that guarantees that those two devices will render in sync with each other, but it is technically feasible to arrange things that way. With streaming media and appropriate standards, it is feasible for content authors to create and send packages of digital media, of varying types, together as a single bundle, with synchronization information embedded in that bundle. Then, the receivers could choose the media types from the bundle to render, according to their capabilities and render those in time with other devices. For authors of streaming content, the ability to create one bundle of media for all possible players is clearly attractive.

There are companies, like Spotmagic, who are developing simulcast solutions and protocols. The logic behind simulcast authoring is compelling, since it enables streaming media producers to embrace the medium cost effectively, thereby driving its growth. Unfortunately, the problem is not well understood enough for mass demand to compel the creation of simulcast solutions. This ought to change in the future. The need for simulcast is there, even if it isn't widely recognized yet.

2.1.9 Mobile Streaming Media

Coming to a phone near you very soon will be full motion video. Unfortunately, today's cell phone networks just don't have the bandwidth to do a good job of transmitting streaming video and the screens are tiny low-resolution affairs. Streaming video to mobile devices is not considered very credible, even as a future technology, because cellular networks are still prone to quality of service problems, such as signal drop out and bad audio quality. These problems will need to be resolved before video can reliably stream from handset to handset. However, rest assured that these are mere temporary technical obstacles.

The range of mobile devices that already use streaming media is growing and will continue to grow. You can already buy a wristwatch that includes an MP3 (MPEG2 Layer 3 audio compression) player, as well as a device that looks like a portable CD player, but which in reality can store your entire music collection. MP3 players are also finding their way into mobile phone handsets. Just because a device is mobile, it does not necessarily imply a wireless network connection is present!

There is evidence that the industry has a commitment to wireless mobile streaming. We have already seen prototypes of streaming media cameras, which can create compressed video streams and send them to the web directly. Mobile operating system vendor Symbian has ported the RealNetworks RealPlayer to their EPOC platform. Windows Media Player is available on the latest Windows CE devices, including palmtop computers and web tablets. The foundations are being laid.

The Japanese have pioneered the use of streaming video on mobile devices. Japanese telecommunications company DoCoMo have created services like video dating, where people can see each other on their handsets before they decide whether or not to make a date. No doubt, many more applications will spring up.

Device designers will create imaginative new mobile streaming products. For example, today you can buy portable DVD players, which can play a movie from a DVD disk on a small portable screen. With the addition of a third generation cellular network connection, that same device could display streamed video. Indeed, if the DVD drive had the capacity to record as well as playback, the stream could be recorded onto a disk for later viewing. All the convenience of a VTR would be available in a portable device. The technology to make this feasible already exists.

Full duplex mobile streaming devices, which both display an incoming video stream and simultaneously transmit from a camera, will have numerous important applications. For example, an ambulance could be equipped with such a device and the patient attended to remotely by a doctor, while the patient was en route to hospital. The doctor could examine the patient with the video camera and the vital signs could be streamed back the hospital at the same time. The doctor could then advise the ambulance crew on the best course of treatment. Just as two-way radio is used today, tomorrow richer information will enable better diagnoses during those vital minutes on the way to hospital.

2.1.10 Streaming Chat

One of the most popular applications on the web, next to e-mail, is instant messaging and chat. Millions of people talk to friends, colleagues and family every day using this technology. Yahoo, CompuServe, AOL and MSN attract millions of people everyday in their text chat rooms. Recently, many of these services have begun to include voice and video chat features.

PalTalk is one of the more popular on-line destinations for those seeking a live video and audio chatting experience. The service is free and it includes text, audio and video chatting either in chat rooms, or one to one, using your local ISP for global connectivity. On PalTalk, you can make an audio connection with somebody internationally, at local phone call rates. The service has its limitations. Audio quality is not high, there are perceptible time lags involved, the call is not truly duplex, in that you cannot talk while listening and there are times when the service is unavailable. On video, the update rate is very low, with perhaps only one frame per second being the best performance achievable. However, the amazing thing is that you can do it at all! In the future, as bandwidth becomes more abundant and these types of service providers deploy better video and audio compression techniques, it is highly likely that they will make a significant dent in the revenues of long distance phone companies.

Many of these online audio and video messaging services can also communicate with regular telephone handsets (streaming to phone). Indeed, Voice over IP, a technology that is creating interest in traditional telecommunications circles, can actually be thought of as streaming audio, on a person-to-person basis.

Another technology that holds some promise in the area of streaming chat is Voice XML. VXML technology allows a user to interact with the Internet through voice recognition technology by using either a voice browser and/or telephone. The pre-cursor to VXML were IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems. The user interacts with the voice browser, such as the one made by Conversa, by listening to audio output that is either pre-recorded, computer-synthesized or instantaneously digitized from a live audio source. The user submits audio input by speaking into a microphone attached to the computer's soundcard, through a telephone keypad or by talking into a telephone. Audio streaming technology is at the heart of these applications.

There is nothing, in principle, to prevent the creation of a web site that allows real humans to converse with each other, using VXML technology to loop one person's audio input back as output to another person. Indeed, some of the more compelling applications of VXML may be e-commerce sites that you can talk to, which answer back. The answer may come from a voice synthesizer or from pre-recorded information messages, or else there may be a real human being at the other end, answering the query. The point is that the user will not need to dial a number or do anything special to start the dialogue with the e-commerce vendor. All they will need to do will be talk to their computer while on the site of interest. Mobile applications (so called M-commerce) will also greatly benefit from VXML technology, since telephone handsets are optimized for audio communications.

2.1.11 Corporate Communications

Companies exist for the sole reason that information flows more freely and more richly within them than in the open market of competitors, customers, suppliers and partners, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase. There are transaction cost advantages associated with having a company, predicated on the company's ability to co-ordinate activities, as a result of efficient internal communications. However, streaming media and other forms of electronic communication change the economics of using the open market, in comparison to using an internal department. If a corporation is to maintain any competitive advantage, against the open market, for a range of services they currently source internally, they will need to lower the costs of internal communications and make them much richer.

Whether a company chooses to outsource or insource, streaming media provides richer and more cost effective communications, over a wider geography, than any previous media technology. Companies like VideoShare are providing streaming technologies to serve this application.

Corporations can narrowcast their annual general meeting to shareholders across the globe, with no more than an eight (or so) second delay. This allows market-sensitive information to be delivered in a fair and managed way, without giving some viewers a benefit over others.

From a human resources perspective, streaming media has many applications. Staff alignment, training, internal company news, procedures and new recruit induction can all be delivered using streaming media, both on-demand and live. Indeed, many companies may encourage outside hours access to employees, secured using Virtual Private Networks (VPN), to allow skills improvement and training, using the company's own internal training materials.

The use of streaming media to enrich extranet content between a company and its key partners is another obvious use of the technology. To see regular, timely updates of information, presented in accessible and high-impact ways, provides added value for both parties.

As an adjunct to a sales force in the field, streaming media is possibly unparalleled. Up to the minute competitive information, sales training materials, marketing communications and tactical communications collateral would all be more accessible and more effective if presented as streaming video with synchronized rich media. The costs of printing and distributing hard copy of these would be mitigated. The sales force could be trained directly by engineers in the lab, without the need to travel. For certain categories of product, sales people often encounter questions that they must refer back to engineering, when trying to make a sale. The ability to ask the question, while still at the customer site and have an authoritative answer instantly could be a positive factor in making the sale. The sales staff may even send back video of the environment in which a piece of equipment will have to be installed to prepare the installation engineers and get an assessment of whether or not the environment needs modification, prior to making the sale.

For product launches, streaming media also provides many attractive advantages. Consumers can watch as the product is unveiled and footage of the product launch itself re-purposed in other marketing communications packages thereafter. The best product demonstrator or salesman that a company has can do their pitch on streaming media and this can be accessed directly by consumers, or else as part of a sales presentation indefinitely.

Companies are under closer consumer scrutiny today. If a company has factories in Thailand, for example, they are rightly or wrongly subject to accusations of using child labor or of otherwise mistreating their employees. With streaming media, such companies could stream pictures from their factories live, for the entire world to see. This would provide proof of their ethics and standards and reduce consumer skepticism. Taken a level further, what would be more reassuring than seeing a video of your built-to-order car or PC at every stage of its manufacture? Streaming media can make applications like that possible, because it is digital and because it changes the economics of making and delivering such a video drastically.

The video technology for corporate communications has existed for a long time, yet it isn't used as much as it could be. There are three reasons. Firstly, distribution of video was costly and cumbersome in the past. With streaming media technology, those costs fall dramatically. Compared to renting satellite time or duplicating VHS tapes, as was once the norm, the cost of deploying a video stream is much lower.

The second reason has to do with the costs of producing video material in the first place. Digital video cameras and PC-based non-linear editing software now cost a mere fraction of what a professional quality camera and tape-based editing system once cost. Being digital, there is less need to worry about video quality loss throughout the distribution chain, as was once the case with analogue video. This also means that the source material need not be as high in quality as was once the requirement, since less is lost. What this means is that the video that the end user sees looks better, but costs less to originate.

Finally, video has not been as widely used as it could be, not just because of lack of production facilities, but more importantly because of a lack of in-house production skills. What companies require are freelance production companies that can script and storyboard the presentation to be made, arrive on the premises, shoot the video unobtrusively and then post-produce the package with high production values. What they do not want is production staff that act precious, waste time, throw tantrums or do their job inefficiently. Unfortunately, video production, as an industry, has historically had a tendency to attract people of that nature. What companies who wish to produce video for their corporate communications need are production companies that have a "meat and potatoes" attitude to what they are doing, who do not consider their output to be high art, but believe in doing their job with integrity and to a high standard. Fortunately, those companies are becoming more prevalent, as more and more graduates opt for media careers and media studies training.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 12
The Medium 19
2.1 What is Streaming Media? 20
2.1.1 A New Distribution Channel 26
2.1.2 No More Downloads 29
2.1.3 Audio/Visual Web Stuff 32
2.1.4 Web Radio 34
2.1.5 Video on Demand 36
2.1.6 Distance Learning 38
2.1.7 Synchronized Multimedia 40
2.1.8 Simulcast 42
2.1.9 Mobile Streaming Media 43
2.1.10 Streaming Chat 45
2.1.11 Corporate Communications 47
2.1.12 Streaming Cameras 50
2.1.13 Special Interest TV 52
2.1.14 Streaming Media and e-Commerce 54
2.1.15 Independent Film Making 57
2.1.16 D-Cinema 59
2.1.17 High Definition Streaming 63
2.1.18 Time Shifting and Live Pause 65
2.1.19 Streaming and Advertising 68
2.1.20 Interactive Tutorials 71
2.1.21 Information Blitzes and Search Randomizers 73
2.1.22 Streaming from DVD (WebDVD) 74
2.2 How Does Streaming Media Work? 76
2.2.1 Compression 80
2.2.2 Bandwidth 86
2.2.3 Pipes 96
2.2.4 The Personal Computer and Streaming Media 98
2.2.5 Players 99
2.2.6 Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 100
2.2.7 QuickTime and Sorenson 123
2.2.8 MPEG-4 128
2.2.9 Content Delivery Networks 152
2.2.10 Edge Servers 155
2.2.11 Quality of Service 160
2.2.12 Real Video and Real Audio 171
2.2.13 Streaming Media Servers 184
2.2.14 Multicasting 186
2.2.15 Audio and Video Cleaning 195
2.2.16 Synchronized Multimedia 196
2.1.17 Peer-to-Peer Replication 199
2.2.18 Rights Management 200
2.2.19 Other Things That Go "Stream" In the Night 210
2.3 Why Was Streaming Media Invented? 212
2.3.1 Corporate Communications 213
2.3.2 WANs Are Cheaper than Airlines 215
2.3.3 Distance Learning and Interactive Learning 216
2.3.4 IPTV 217
2.3.5 Microsoft Video for Windows 218
2.3.6 Microsoft NetShow 219
2.3.7 Real Audio 220
2.3.8 Liquid Audio 222
2.3.9 How It Panned Out 223
2.4 Why is Streaming Media Better? 225
2.4.1 Better Than Text 226
2.4.2 On Demand Viewing 227
2.4.3 A Universe of Choice 228
2.4.4 Global and General 230
2.4.5 Wide Reach 231
2.4.6 Interactivity 231
2.4.7 Enriched User Experiences 232
2.4.8 Targeted Advertising 233
2.4.9 Immediately Measurable Response 234
2.4.10 Enhanced E-commerce 235
2.4.11 Mobile and Portable 236
2.4.12 Distribution 237
2.4.13 Content Production Costs 239
2.4.14 Democracy and Media Control 242
2.4.15 Setting the Agenda 243
2.4.16 Encryption 244
2.4.17 The Joys of Unregulated Media 245
2.4.18 Play it Again, Sam 246
2.4.19 Searching and Filtering 247
2.4.20 Copyrights Rule 248
2.4.21 Fingerprinting and Watermarking 251
2.4.22 Archival 251
2.4.23 Using Metadata 252
2.4.24 Simulcast Synchronized Multimedia 253
2.4.25 Standards Conversions Obsolete 255
2.4.26 Information Density 256
2.4.27 Tracing Sources 257
2.4.28 Trust Networks 258
2.4.29 Viewer Reviewers 260
2.4.30 Not Dictation 261
2.4.31 The Return of Community 263
2.4.32 Everyone is Beautiful - Avatars 263
2.4.33 Content is King 264
2.5 Who Is Driving Streaming Media's Innovation? 265
2.5.1 Microsoft 266
2.5.2 Real Networks and Intel Architecture Labs 268
2.5.3 Apple 270
2.5.4 Sorenson 271
2.5.5 The Moving Picture Experts Group 272
2.5.6 Other Vendors 272
2.5.7 Research 273
2.6 What's Wrong With Streaming Media? 275
2.6.1 Audience Critical Mass 277
2.6.2 Profitable Business Models 278
2.6.3 Ubiquitous Broadband Networks 278
2.6.4 Standards and Lack of Adherence to Them 280
2.6.5 Quality of Video Service / Quality of Experience 281
2.6.6 Quality of Network Service 282
2.6.7 Receivers and Players 286
2.6.8 Content Providers - Where Are the Big Names? 287
2.6.9 Fresh Searches 288
2.6.10 Web Publishing Issues 290
2.6.11 Mobile Networks and Devices 292
2.6.12 Cost Effective Content Production 293
2.6.13 A Killer Application? 296
2.7 When Will Streaming Media Be Ready for Prime Time? 297
2.7.1 Broadband Penetration 298
2.7.2 The Fight for Rights 301
2.7.3 Digital Rights Management 302
2.7.4 Mobile Media 307
2.7.5 Appliances and Receivers 308
2.7.6 Finding a Killer Application 309
2.7.7 When Standards Prevail 309
2.7.8 Sound Business Models 310
2.7.9 Media Search Engines 311
2.7.10 Fast Seeking Support 312
The Audience 315
3.1 Who Will Watch? 316
3.1.1 Demographics 316
3.1.2 The Multitasking Viewer 317
3.1.3 Values 318
3.1.4 Expectations of the Media 320
3.1.5 Community Spirit 320
3.1.6 The Need for Speed 321
3.1.7 Expectations of Search Relevance 321
3.1.8 The Need to Contribute and Interact 322
3.1.9 Respect for Digital Rights 322
3.1.10 Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Streaming Networks 323
3.1.11 Protection from Perversion 326
3.1.12 Silver Surfers 327
3.1.13 Serious Business 328
3.1.14 Learners 328
3.2 How Will We Watch Streaming Media? 330
3.2.1 The PC Platform 330
3.2.2 Set Top Boxes and Beyond 331
3.2.3 Mobile PDA and Web Tablets 333
3.2.4 In The Car 334
3.2.5 In Public Places 334
3.2.6 At the D-Cinema 335
3.2.7 On The Fridge 336
3.2.8 Around The House 337
3.2.9 Surveillance Centers 338
3.3 When Will We Watch? 339
3.3.1 The Competition for Attention 340
3.3.2 Time Is Precious 342
3.3.3 Saving Time 343
3.3.4 Every Business Is In Show Business 344
3.3.5 Getting What You Need 345
3.3.6 When You Don't Know 346
3.3.7 When You Want To Know More 347
3.3.8 Anywhere 348
3.3.9 Anytime 349
3.3.10 The Simulcast Experience 350
3.3.11 Personal Streaming Universes 351
3.4 Why Watch Streaming Media? 352
3.4.1 Better Than Books? 353
3.4.2 Fast Variety 355
3.4.3 Whenever You Want 356
3.4.4 A Personal Information Shadow 357
3.4.5 Video Beats Text 358
3.4.6 Informative and Interactive 359
3.4.7 The Best Mentors 360
3.4.8 The Best Salesmen 361
3.4.9 Body Language 362
3.4.10 Intimate Connections 363
3.4.11 Natural Modes of Thought 363
3.5 What Will We Watch? 367
3.5.1 Hyper News 367
3.5.2 Effective Education 371
3.5.3 Help At Hand 372
3.5.4 Love Interactions 373
3.5.5 Immersive Entertainment 374
3.5.6 D-Features 374
3.5.7 Video Instant Messaging and Mail 375
3.5.8 Special Interest Magazine Shows 376
3.5.9 Archives and Vaults 376
3.5.10 Streaming Auctions 377
3.5.11 Fly By, Walkthrough Streaming 378
3.5.12 Extreme Retailing and E-Commerce 378
3.5.13 Honey, I Shrunk the Children 379
The Business 380
4.1 How Will Anyone Make Money With Streaming Media? 381
4.1.1 Was "Free To Air" Ever Really Free? 383
4.1.2 Pay Per View Streaming 384
4.1.3 Streaming by Subscription 385
4.1.4 Streaming Subsidized by Advertising 385
4.1.5 Streaming Subsidized by E-Commerce 386
4.1.6 Trading Private Data for Streams 386
4.1.7 Government Funded Streaming 387
4.1.8 Protecting Rights 388
4.1.9 Better Bandwidth Utilization 388
4.1.10 Multicasting 389
4.1.11 Stream Fountains 389
4.1.12 Cheaper Bandwidth 391
4.1.13 Mobile Connectivity 391
4.1.14 Replacing Travel with Bandwidth 392
4.2 Who Will Make Money? 393
4.2.1 Content Owners and Creators 393
4.2.2 Bandwidth Profligates 393
4.2.3 Optical Network Service Providers 394
4.2.4 Optical Network Equipment Manufacturers 395
4.2.5 Consumer Electronics Industry 396
4.2.6 Desktop Streaming Media Authoring Tool Vendors 396
4.3 When Will Streaming Media Make Money? 398
4.3.1 When Will the Audience Reach Critical Mass? 401
4.3.2 When Will Practical, Inexpensive Receivers Arrive? 401
4.3.3 When Will Bandwidth Be Cheap? 402
4.3.4 When Will Connectivity Be Easy? 403
4.3.5 When Will Compelling Content Be Produced? 404
4.3.6 When Will The Quality of Service Be Acceptable? 404
4.3.7 When Will Standards Prevail? 405
4.3.8 When Will Cost-Effective Production Techniques Arrive? 405
4.3.9 When Will The Legal Issues Be Solved? 407
4.4 Why Will Streaming Media Make Money? 408
4.4.1 What You Want, When You Want It, Wherever You Are 408
4.4.2 Your Personal Data Shadow 409
4.4.3 Feel The Quality 409
4.4.4 Honest, Guv'nor 411
4.4.5 Trust Me, I'm Streaming Media 411
4.4.6 Everyone's A Media Mogul 412
4.4.7 Involving, Immersive and Interactive 414
4.4.8 Overturning The Old Order 414
4.4.9 Rights Guarded 415
4.4.10 Free Samples 416
4.4.11 Uncensored 416
4.4.12 An Enriched World Wide Web 417
4.4.13 Why Digital Television Can't Compete 417
Upsides - Downsides 421
5.1 How Significant Is Streaming Media? 422
5.1.1 Sizing the Potential Market 422
5.1.2 Sizing the Potential Audience 425
5.1.3 Streaming Media and Democracy 425
5.1.4 Streaming Media and Ignorance 426
5.1.5 Streaming Media and Knowledge Capital 426
5.1.6 Streaming Media and the Speed of Business 427
5.1.7 Streaming Media and Privacy 427
5.1.8 Streaming Media and Community 428
5.1.9 Streaming Media and Advertising 429
5.2 What Could Go Wrong? 430
5.2.1 Quality Never Improves 432
5.2.2 Abuse of Privacy 434
5.2.3 Laws Lag Technology 436
5.2.4 Bandwidth Revolution Stalls 437
5.2.5 Business Models Never Mature 440
5.2.6 Receivers Never Materialize 440
5.2.7 Content Owners Don't Trust the Channel 442
5.2.8 The Audience is Busy Doing Other Things 443
5.2.9 The Audience Rejects Rights Management / E-commerce Security       444
5.2.10 Lowest Common Denominator Programming Prevails 446
5.2.11 It's Outlawed 446
5.3 Conclusion 448
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