Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. Its verb form, “to stream”, refers to the process of delivering media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium rather than the medium itself.
A client media player can begin playing the data (such as a movie) before the entire file has been transmitted. Distinguishing delivery method from the media distributed applies specifically to telecommunications networks, as most other delivery systems are either inherently streaming (e.g., radio, television) or inherently nonstreaming (e.g., books, video cassettes, audio CDs). For example, in the 1930s, elevator music was among the earliest popularly available streaming media; nowadays Internet television is a common form of streamed media.
The term “streaming media” and Live Media can apply to media other than video and audio such as live closed captioning, ticker tape, and real-time text, which are all considered “streaming text”. The term “streaming” was first used in the early 1990s as a better description for video on demand on IP networks; at the time such video was usually referred to as “store and forward video”, which was misleading nomenclature.