Streaming video has largely replaced older formats, especially DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Here’s what you need to know about how video streaming works!

Once upon a time, when you wanted to watch a movie at home you would sit on the couch with a big old bowl of popcorn, pop a DVD in, and have yourself a wonderful evening. Today, though, the game has changed — the DVD player has largely gone the way of the dodo, joining the VCR and the laserdisc player in the dustbin of history. So how, exactly, can we still sit down for a good, old-fashioned movie night?

It’s no mystery: the new gold standard for video playback today is streaming video. But what, exactly, is streaming video? How does it work, exactly? What does it mean to stream a movie, and what do you need in order to stream successfully? Don’t worry — we’ve got the answers to all your questions and more below.

A Quick Definition of Streaming Video

The best way to describe streaming video is that it’s kind of like listening to a song on your car radio. Tune to your favorite station and suddenly your car is filled with music, and all without having to keep dozens of CDs or cassette tapes rattling around in your glove compartment.

Streaming video is essentially the same thing but with video. Instead of songs being broadcast through the airwaves by a radio station and received by your stereo antenna, video is sent through the internet and picked up by a connected device like a smart TV. If you don’t want to stream your home movies (From those old VHS tapes) just have them converted to Mp4 video files by your local Video Conversion Provider and store them on a flash drive or portable hard drive. You can then plug that into your smart TV and sit back and reminisce on all those family memories.  It’s a little more complicated than that of course, but it’s the best way to define the phenomenon in a way that’s easy to understand!

Receiving Video from the Great Beyond

So how do you get with the program and switch from playing DVDs to streaming video? It’s not nearly as complex as you fear. First, you need a reliable connection to the internet, which is the equivalent of having good radio reception. Just as your favorite station won’t come in clearly without a good antenna, you won’t be able to stream video without a stable internet signal.

Once you’ve got that taken care of, you’ll need the necessary equipment to receive streaming video. The easiest and most straightforward way to do that today is through a smart TV that’s designed to receive streaming video from the internet. Most modern televisions sold today are smart TVs that have this built-in functionality, but if you have an older television that doesn’t have that capability there are dozens of add-on devices (like Google Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV stick, or even some DVD players), that you can use instead.

Finally, the very last thing you’ll need to watch streaming video is an account with a subscription-based streaming service. Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video, or any of the other streaming services out there, maintaining a subscription with these services grants you access to their vast library of streaming titles. From then on, it’s just like the old days: get your snacks, plop down in your favorite chair, and enjoy the show!

The Advantages of Using Video Streaming

There’s a lot to like about streaming video, as it’s got some definite advantages over older video formats like DVD. First and foremost, there’s a definite difference when it comes to physical space. Having video content available over the internet through your smart TV or other connected device means never having to maintain a massive video library at home. No more stacks of DVDs spilling off shelves and cluttering your home!

The other big advantage of video streaming is that the quality of the video can often be much higher than what you can get with regular DVD players. Even Blu-Ray players have slipped into obsolescence as well because of this. Many modern televisions are capable of displaying ultra-high-resolution content, and streaming providers like Amazon and Netflix have content that these new TVs can display.

The Few Drawbacks to Streaming

That being said, it’s only fair that we do showcase a few of the rare disadvantages that come along with streaming video. The first is obvious: you can’t use video streaming if you don’t have internet. If your service goes down for any reason, all those thousands of titles available in your online library effectively no longer exist. At that point, you’ll be looking through your closet or attic so you can pull out that old DVD player again. Hope you didn’t throw it out!

The other drawback to video streaming is the subscription-based access model, though this can be a mixed bag. You’re essentially paying a monthly rental fee to streaming providers, so you don’t really own any of the content you’re watching in most cases. While most subscriptions are relatively inexpensive and often cost less than if you would buy a new DVD every month, the more services you have the more expensive it can be. Such is the price for not having to clutter your home with hundreds of DVD boxes.

The Last Word on Modern Video Streaming

There’s a lot more nuance to the world of video streaming than we’ve discussed, of course. That being said, the information shared above is more than enough to get you started in transitioning away from using physical media like DVDs to watch movies and other video content.

Today, video content of all kinds — movies, television shows, even broadcast news — is highly accessible thanks to modern technology like the internet and smart TVs. It’s only going to become more so in the future. At the same time, there’s no need to toss your old DVD player out just yet. If you’re ready to jump on the streaming bandwagon, welcome to the future! If not, don’t worry — it will still be waiting for you when you feel like coming aboard.