A brief history of live streaming

Today, live streams are everywhere – whether it’s marketing content or social media, business solutions, or entertainment channels. Where exactly did the phenomenon of live streaming come from? Let’s take a look. 

How has live streaming changed?

Live streaming technology is used in lots of different ways. From streaming your favorite TV show to a music festival you couldn’t get tickets for, live streams have transformed the way we consume media.

As technology developed, these live streams are no longer limited to being a one-way street. People can stream themselves and interact with viewers for an immersive experience, best exemplified by virtual meetings, remote events and conferences, and live casino games. 

With Paddy Power Live Roulette, games are hosted by a real roulette croupier in real time, captured by a few cameras. The camera feeds are then streamed to the players live. Players can interact with the feed to view the results of the games, place bets, and speak to the croupier. 

The innovation of live roulette blends the instant appeal of the internet with the social interaction of land-based casinos, providing new ways for people to interact with each other online and play in real time.

With such a breadth of functionality, it is clear that live streaming can be utilized for a seemingly endless array of applications.

From conception to popularization

Did you know, live streaming is actually older than Google? The first live stream of audio and video was on June 24, 1993 – that’s five years before Google was founded – whilst films were still watched on video tapes and dial-up internet was the norm. 

This stream, which broadcast a gig by a band known as Severe Tire Damage, was carried out by Xerox PARC using a multicast backbone network and attracted viewers as far away as Australia. 

Two years later, live streaming became more than an isolated incident. In 1995, RealNetworks created a media player with live streaming capabilities, known as RealPlayer. RealNetworks is often regarded as a pioneer of live streaming technology. 

Using this technology, RealNetworks broadcasted a baseball game that same year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a huge moneymaker in the way that it is today. With this in mind, in 1997, they created a program called RealVideo in an attempt to commercialize live streaming, which sadly did not take off as much as expected. 

A couple of years later, on November 8, 1999, Excite@Home Network and the Democratic Leadership Council hosted a live stream discussion event. Bill Clinton, the then President of the United States, was one of the participants. Streamed live from Washington University, Washington DC, this event attracted an audience of over 50,000 people. 

Despite making significant headway in the 90s, it wasn’t really until the 2000s or even the 2010s that live streaming saw a boom in popularity. Live streaming is now common because of social media and its continual updates for the newest functionality, including, of course, live streams. 

By the modern day, leading platforms report 7.2 billion hours of content watched in a single quarter – with 23.7% of internet users stating their main reason for being on social media is for watching live streams – highlighting a huge societal shift since its ideation. With this in mind, it’s clear live streaming is here to stay.