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Live Streaming : 7 Familiar Yet Confusing Terms

iStock_000006592851XSmallRight now, live streaming is a hot topic among marketers. It’s a necessary part of any business plan to keep up with the competition. It can be used for different strategies from cutting costs to extending the company’s reach, all of which contribute to the bottom line.

Yet in the realm of tech talk, there is some confusion about specific terms. Many of the terms overlap which adds to the puzzlement. In an effort to help clear the air on some of the lingo, here is a brief description of some of the current terminology.

Live Streaming:

Live streaming is also referred to as streamed events, streaming, streaming media, video transmission, or data streaming and probably a lot of other names. But what is it exactly?

Live streaming is the process of broadcasting a live event … as it happens … over the Internet. The broadcast can be viewed, as it is streamed, via personal computers, mobile devices, or other kinds of digital tools on the receiving end. Even though it’s touted as “in real time”, there can be a lag time from 5 to 30 seconds because of the compression, encoding and decoding processes. (Note: It can also be recorded and viewed at a later time.)


In the past, webcasting had been considered a one-to-many configuration but the lines are becoming blurred. A broadcaster would share either a live or a recorded presentation with multiple people. The recipients are viewing the content through the Internet on their own computer or digital device. There’s limited interaction or ability to respond by participants.

Web Conferencing:

Web conferencing offers the ability to hold a live conference, staff meeting, training session or promotional event of some kind over the Internet. The attendees can be scattered around the world but participate as if they were there face-to-face. They can interact with the others, share screens and pass the control of the session among their many colleagues. It is generally considered a many-to-many configuration with the capability of having multiple presenters located in different places.


The word webinar comes from the combination of the words web-based and seminar. It is often interchangeable with the term webcast and is usually a one-to-many configuration with limited interaction by the audience. The viewers are usually participating via their own personal computer. Often times the events are recorded and can be viewed at a later time by those unable to attend in real time.

Video Email:

Video email is simply an email with some kind of video embedded into the content rather than being added as an attachment. The video can be inserted into the text itself or can be accessible via a link that is established within the email.

Video on Demand:

Video on Demand is often used in conjunction with live streaming. It takes a pre-recorded video and streams it to the viewer via the Internet. The viewer can then watch it at his or her own discretion using any compatible equipment like a laptop, mobile, or tablet.

Pay per View:

Unlike video on demand, pay-per-view allows viewers to purchase a particular show from a telecaster and view it at the same time everyone else sees it. This service is many times offered in conjunction with specific movies, sporting events, concerts, and other forms of entertainment.

The definitions of these words are intertwined and sometimes they are used interchangeably. The above definitions are the basics and as technology advances, the distinction between them could continue to blur.

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Oliver Burt

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