On April 15,1995, RealAudio was launched, unleashing the streaming revolution. Many content partners, including ABC News and National Public Radio participated, and RealAudio soon became a global phenomenon.
Over the past 25-years of streaming there have been numerous breakthroughs and milestones. Here are some of the most exciting and important ones:
Streaming media faced many challenges. The internet wasn’t initially designed to transport and synchronize audio and video. Reliability and quality were throttled by dial-up modems and lossy networks. Broadband was an aspiration. Competition was fierce and standards took time. Digital rights weren’t easily protected. Mobile lagged. In a world where anyone could be a broadcaster, it was still challenging to find great content for this new medium. The early audience for streaming media was small, skeptical, impatient, and confidant.
IN 25 YEARS OF STREAMING
RealNetworks gives voice to the world wide web with First live broadcast, an MLB game of the Mariners vs. the Yankees, and the streaming industry is born.
ESPN SportsZone uses RealAudio to stream a live radio broadcast of a Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees baseball game. It is the first time that a sports fan could listen to a live game broadcast from anywhere in the world, via a personal computer.
RealAudio invents streaming radio category.
RealVideo brings mainstream TV to the web. This short film was created for RealNetworks (inventor of RealVideo) in 1997 by acclaimed film producer and director Spike Lee. This is the first video clip ever broadcast on the web, and it features American dancer and choreographer Savion Glover, who became famous for his unique pounding style of tap dancing, called “hitting.”
RealVideo transformed the internet, turning it into an entirely new broadcast medium for TV, film, and personal videos.
Napster file-sharing service is launched, and the digital music revolution begins.
Getting music off the internet before Napster was tricky, unreliable, and difficult. Napster’s software allowed people to dip into each other’s hard drives, and share their MP3 music files. Musicians were on the fence. Some loved it. Others did not.
Pandora internet radio is launched.
9/11: ABC News’ Peter Jennings was one of the principal prime-time anchors to broadcast the tragedy in NYC, DC and Pennsylvania live throughout the day.
The first time the entire world turned to the internet for live video breaking news.
YouTube is launched. SNL Digital Short, “Lazy Sunday” with Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell, ignites YouTube overnight as a platform for sharing videos.
Within days, “Lazy Sunday” was the first TV show clip to have a viral second life online, with over 2 million views. That week, YouTube’s traffic was up 83 percent, just five months after YouTube went online.
Spotify music service is launched.
Netflix, a website originally created for DVD rentals and sales, begins to stream video on demand entertainment. “Sherrybaby”, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, was one of the first films it licensed and distributed.
By creating compelling original programming designed for streaming, analyzing its user data to serve subscribers better, and most importantly, letting people consume content in the ways they prefer, Netflix disrupted the television industry and forced cable companies to change the way they do business.
CNN YouTube Presidential Debate is first of its kind to stream live.
“Evolution of Dance” on YouTube- 1st viral video to hit 100M views.
Hulu launched by NBC and FOX.
Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration is streamed live; 7.7M people watched simultaneously online.
First presidential inauguration to be video-streamed live.
Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is webcast live to 72M live viewers.
Twitch.tv is launched, changing gaming forever as it enables fans to connect with other fans as they watch live broadcasts of live streamed video games.
Twitch.tv is one of the most successful online live streaming platforms in the world, with 200 million viewers and 2 million regular “streamers”.
Apple launches FaceTime from the iPhone and changes the way people communicate.
Zoom launches video conferencing service that could initially host up to 15 people.
Though it started out as a business platform, Zoom exploded in popularity years later during the COVID-19 pandemic: Virtual Happy Hours; Connecting families; Live sessions for work and education… and now the 2020 NFL Draft.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises $115M in donation to charity using viral videos.
TikTok short-form mobile video app launches in China and now has over 1 Billion users.
TikTok proves that there is a vast market looking for a few minutes of micro-entertainment and distraction each day. Initially embraced by young consumers, TikTok is now being used by brands and businesses alike.
Andrea Bocelli performs #MusicForHope concert, webcast live from Milan Cathedral on Easter Sunday to 2.8M concurrent viewers.
Saturday Night Live broadcasts special “SNL At Home” editions, and parodies the Zoom calling craze.
The COVID-19 lockdown changed the world, and marked a turning point where streaming became a fundamental lifeline for work, education, socializing, and entertainment. Actor John Krasinski spreads joy on YouTube during the Coronavirus pandemic with SGN - Some Good News.
COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way the world functioned, and proved the importance of streaming technology across multiple disciplines. Businesses and educators turned to Zoom & Microsoft Teams to conduct live video meetings, changing the way people do business and learn. Entertainment had to reinvent itself: All live talk (and even the big variety competition shows like American Idol) began streaming from home. Late Night entertainers did their shows from home with their families: Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah. Actor John Krasinski launched his own YouTube show: Some Good News. And families and best friends gathered regularly to virtually socialize during “Zoom Happy Hours”.
RealNetworks continues to innovate with technologies that are fundamentally changing the way that consumers interact with digital media.
StarSearch™ by Real®
StarSearch by Real is transforming the streaming and downloaded video landscape with AI technology that lets consumers instantly identify, browse and search famous people and the video scenes in which they appear providing an entirely new viewing experience.Learn more
RealPlayer 20/20 applies the power of AI to your media library. It instantly identifies the celebrities in the videos you’re watching, and automatically organizes your library by people so you can search, browse and easily find clips and scenes with the people you want. It also comes with a redesigned user interface, and a much faster and smarter one-click downloader that works with thousands of sites.Learn more
Scener, the co-watching platform for streaming entertainment, which was incubated by RealNetworks, announced a partnership with HBO that provides co-watching features for HBO NOW and HBO GO viewers so that they can remotely watch, connect, and video chat with their friends in real-time while enjoying a movie together.Learn more