On a technical level, VideoAge considers Netflix a streaming service because it is carried over the Internet using encoded audio and video signals in a container such as MP4 (from a windowing rights perspective it's SVoD).
But, there is a bit of confusion when generalizing about streaming TV services. For some U.S. studios, in terms of TV rights, streaming means "replicating a linear live event authenticated through a MVPD" and it cannot be downloaded. As for services like Netflix, they're considered SVoD rights. Typical examples are HBO Now (SVoD) and HBO Go (streaming).
HBO Now is a paid streaming service that offers instant and unlimited access to HBO programs and movies. Unlike HBO Go, HBO Now does not require a cable or satellite TV subscription. HBO Now is only available in the U.S. HBO Go is an authenticated SVoD service because it's only available with a cable subscription or through a cable operator.
For Sasha Zivanovic, CEO of Nextologies in Toronto, the definition of streaming "is broad. It's like defining 'banking' in that it can mean many different things," he said. However, to non-technical people, streaming is like defining bacteria, which each human sends into the air at a rate of 37 million per hour.
"There are really two types of streaming," he explained, "the first is streaming content over an IPTV network, which is defined as a closed network delivery mechanism not touching the Internet. Or, content can be streamed over the Internet and referred to as OTT."
"Many people confuse IPTV as any Internet television. This is not the case," continued Zivanovic, "If the originating data stream comes from a private IP (Internet Protocol) address that is not registered as a public IP address from the governing bodies that manage IP addressing, it's safe to say that 'stream' is going over a private network and is IPTV. If the originating stream is coming from a public IP address then it is OTT streaming."
He then added: "Another way to differentiate between these two types of streaming is how content is licensed. Content can be licensed based on a closed loop network, or by offering it over the Internet. This seems to be the main confusion when asked what is streaming. Depending on how content is licensed can determine whether this is streaming over the Internet or streaming on a private network (i.e. streaming from a MSO or via their closed network)."
"There are really two types of streaming, the rst is streaming content over an IPTV network, which is de ned as a closed network delivery mechanism not touching the Internet. Or, content can be streamed over the Internet and referred to as OTT."
But Zivanovic warns: "This is not to be confused with streaming from a MSO that has an 'application' that can be used outside the home. These are two different things entirely, solely because of where the originating signal is delivered from."
Then, is the definition of streaming any different from the definition of broadcasting? "In essence," he said, "broadcasting is streaming and vice versa, but streaming always requires some form of connectivity, and it does not mean Internet."
Zivanovic further explained: "Canada's Bell Fibe or the U.S.'s Verizon Fios for example, built a physical infrastructure into homes, and all they've really done is create a localized network to stream from within their network (a closed- loop network). This is not the same as streaming OTT or simply streaming over the Internet. Even though Bell has Netflix on their box, which requires access to the Internet, the box will get the Netflix content from the Internet, but the TV and VoD services are originating from the Bell private network.
"The confusion is when people refer to IP delivery. There's IP delivery that is designed for the broadcast television world. TV companies use a mechanism to transport video from one point to another. There are TV companies that offer broadcast grade delivery using the Internet, this is a type of streaming, but not to be confused with OTT or IPTV," he said.
Zivanovic concluded: "IPTV does not mean Internet television, it can mean delivery of television signals over a private network, but not the Internet, and streaming does not always mean Internet, it can be a private network." There you have it, clear and simple!