What is media streaming?
Streaming is a way to view or listen to media like movies, TV shows and music by using the internet, rather than watching broadcast TV or tuning into a radio station.
It's popular because it’s convenient. You can stream media on any device that’s connected to the internet, whether that’s a smart TV, a computer, a tablet or a smartphone.
You also have a greater choice of movies, TV shows or radio stations to watch or listen to. And if you happen to miss an episode of your favourite TV show, you can go back to watch it later.
What types of media can I stream and from where?
Movies, TV shows and videos
You can stream movies, TV shows and other videos from many different services - some are free but most have an ongoing subscription fee.
Movie and TV show streaming services with a monthly subscription fee include Netflix, Disney+, Foxtel and Apple TV+.
While some free video streaming services include ABC iView and all major Australian TV networks (like SBS and Channels 7, 9 and 10) where you can watch programs once they’ve aired.
The most popular streaming service is YouTube, which can be free or subscription based and gives you access to videos on almost anything, from how-to fix things to travel adventures, cute animal videos and more.
Music, radio and other audio
For music streaming, some of the more popular platforms are Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music. Spotify and YouTube Music both have a free version with ads and some limits, or you can choose to pay so you don’t have to watch the ads.
You can also stream some radio stations, often directly from their website.
What’s the difference between live and on-demand streaming?
When you live stream video or audio content, it means you’re using the internet to watch or listen to the content while it’s happening - like a sports event or a music concert.
With on-demand streaming, you’re not watching a live event, you’re watching (or listening to) pre-recorded content. On-demand simply means that the movies, TV shows, music or other content is available for you to access whenever you choose, usually on a subscription-based service.
Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, Stan, are paid on-demand services while free-to-air TV may have free on-demand streaming services, like Catch-up TV.
Now that you know what streaming is and what you can stream, find out how you can stream using your smart TV in the article How do I stream movies, videos and music through my TV?