The origins of streaming platforms; where did it all begin?

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The major streaming platforms have grown from nowhere to become highly successful and dominant players in the world’s entertainment industry. 

They are now hubs for film-making, TV production, popular broadcasting and even game subscriptions. From providing a venue for a poker game to giving a first chance to budding film-maker, the streaming giants are now playing a vital part in the entertainment of millions.

Netflix for example, was one of the pioneers in the streaming industry. It now has a huge subscriber base and offers a wide range of original content, including TV shows, movies, documentaries.

Netflix’s success has created a significant impact on traditional television networks and led to a shift in consumer viewing habits. It has even entered the world of gaming with great early success.

At the same time Amazon Prime Video, has been providing its subscribers with a vast library of movies, TV series and original content. The financial backing of the Amazon empire has allowed it to become one of the major forces in the streaming market.

Disney launched Disney+ in late 2019 and it was another streaming platform which quickly gained popularity. With a focus on family-friendly content, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ appealed to a mainstream audience. 

Other major streaming platforms include Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and YouTubeTV. Expect more new services to join them.

How did it all start?

The origins of streaming can be traced back to the early development of the internet. Here are the key milestones in its evolution:

Early Internet

In the 1990s the internet was just becoming more accessible to the general public. 

Companies started exploring ways to deliver audio and video content using the web. At first, limited bandwidth and slow internet speeds made these processes challenging.


From 1995 the technical staff at RealNetworks played a significant role in popularizing streaming media. They developed RealAudio, one of the first audio streaming formats.

Later they introduced RealVideo for video streaming. For the first time these systems allowed users to listen to audio and watch video content in real-time over the internet.

Windows Media and QuickTime

After RealVideo, Microsoft’s Windows Media and Apple’s QuickTime were developed to offered streaming formats and improved compression algorithms designed for each of the computer operating systems. 

These technologies helped improve the quality and efficiency of streaming content.

Broadband Internet

The widespread adoption of broadband internet in the 2000s enhanced the streaming experience. With faster internet speeds, users could access and stream media more smoothly, reducing buffering and latency issues.


This site launched in 2005 and revolutionized online video streaming. Users could upload and share their own videos for the first time. 

It quickly became the go-to platform for user-generated content. YouTube’s success demonstrated the growing demand for streaming media and the potential for video-sharing platforms like TikTok.

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Netflix and Online Video-on-Demand

Netflix, initially a DVD rental service, transitioned into an online video streaming platform in 2007. 

The introduction of their streaming service allowed subscribers to instantly watch TV shows and movies over the internet. 

Advancements in Streaming Technology

Since then, advancements in video compression, adaptive streaming and content delivery networks (CDNs) have further improved the quality and accessibility of streaming media. 

These technologies enabled seamless streaming experiences across various devices, including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.

Thanks to these developments, streaming has become a dominant form of media consumption, offering a wide range of content and services. 

The industry continues to evolve with the emergence of new technologies and the entrance of various players in the market.

The future of streaming is likely to be shaped by several key trends and developments. This includes the expansion of original content to attract subscribers. 

Streaming platforms have already experienced significant global growth but there are still untapped markets. As internet connectivity improves worldwide streaming platforms are expected to expand further.

At the same time streaming platforms are likely to invest in advanced recommendation algorithms and personalization features. These technologies will aim to provide tailored content recommendations based on users’ viewing habits, preferences and demographic information.

Live streaming of sports events, concerts and other real-time experiences has become popular. Expect this trend to grow.

Streaming platforms will focus on securing rights to live events and providing interactive features to engage viewers in real-time.

Advancements in streaming technology and immersive audio plus emerging technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence enable more immersive and interactive content experiences.

The streaming landscape is dynamic and as new technologies, market shifts and consumer preferences evolve. It’s hard to predict where the development of streaming will lead – other than one certainty. 

As technology evolves there will be more and better streaming experiences available more conveniently for us, the viewers. And that sounds like good news!