How Does Webcasting Work?by Mike Munson
Regardless of whether a webcast is real-time, on demand, video, audio or a combination of both, the streaming media transmission must have an origination point. The person or company that chooses to host a webcast must have hardware and software that is dedicated to the serving of media to multiple destinations at once. The hardware can be as simple as one computer, or as complex as a collection of servers working in tandem. Hardware needs are assessed by the entity originating the media transmission. In order to facilitate a successful webcast, one must effectively estimate the size of the target audience and supply the hardware necessary to process all the user requests at the same time.
In addition to the broadcast hardware, a software solution must be in place that can handle all the webcast user transmissions with ease. While the hardware is responsible for processing the actual data of the media being broadcast, the software acts much like a traffic cop. Webcasting software ensures that each individual user requesting the broadcast has a copy of the webcast allocated to him. The software and hardware work hand in hand to make sure that each person that wants to view the webcast can do so.
A webcast depends on an audience with an Internet connection to complete the entire webcast cycle. Each person that is interested in the webcast is simultaneously sending a request to the broadcasting hardware and software. Once the request is received, the webcasting hardware and software appropriates a virtual channel for the visitor. This channel sends the requested webcast over the Internet to the visitor's device. Depending on the webcaster's chosen broadcasting solution, a webcast visitor may be able to view or listen to the webcast using a computer, cell phone or other supported Internet device.