Why does it take longer for my phone to a downloaded movie/show on my phone than it does to stream it?

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I went on a road trip and as it was through the middle of nowhere, I downloaded a bunch of shows on various apps to watch on my phone in case I didn’t have data in certain places. When I would try to open a video on my phone that was downloaded (Bad Batch on D+) it would take literal minutes to start, but if I started streaming the same show/episode it would start almost immediately. This seems counterintuitive. Why does it happen?

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8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

For corporate contract reasons, these files are pretty much always encrypted, both when downloaded from the internet and (naturally) when saved onto your phone storage. Playing back the video requires you be able to decrypt them, and there’s a lot of “validation” involved to make sure you’re authorized to play it. How exactly these work are all trade secrets and nobody is 100% sure unless you work for said companies.

So any answer is going to involve a bit of speculation.

Playing a video on your local device may require the local file be checked out before playback begins. This may be some step required to decrypt it, or it might just be under the guise of a “safety feature” to ensure the video isn’t damaged before you start playing. Another possibility is it’s trying to reach the internet for additional verification and either failing, or your connection is slow.

By contrast, streaming would have already performed any verification on the internet server side before even giving you the video, so it may just trust that since we’re receiving video, we are authorized. Thus playback begins quickly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The quality/resolution of the streamed content can be adjusted on the fly to accommodate varing internet connection speeds.

A downloaded file will be at a fixed file size, so on a slow connection it could take longer than the playback time to download.

Anonymous 0 Comments

For corporate contract reasons, these files are pretty much always encrypted, both when downloaded from the internet and (naturally) when saved onto your phone storage. Playing back the video requires you be able to decrypt them, and there’s a lot of “validation” involved to make sure you’re authorized to play it. How exactly these work are all trade secrets and nobody is 100% sure unless you work for said companies.

So any answer is going to involve a bit of speculation.

Playing a video on your local device may require the local file be checked out before playback begins. This may be some step required to decrypt it, or it might just be under the guise of a “safety feature” to ensure the video isn’t damaged before you start playing. Another possibility is it’s trying to reach the internet for additional verification and either failing, or your connection is slow.

By contrast, streaming would have already performed any verification on the internet server side before even giving you the video, so it may just trust that since we’re receiving video, we are authorized. Thus playback begins quickly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The quality/resolution of the streamed content can be adjusted on the fly to accommodate varing internet connection speeds.

A downloaded file will be at a fixed file size, so on a slow connection it could take longer than the playback time to download.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Streaming simply means that the media plays as it is being downloaded. A portion of the media is buffered so that bandwidth variations do not interrupt playback. Video quality can be adjusted to prevent the buffer from running out.

At full quality it takes the same amount of time (or even less) to download a media file as it takes to stream it. But streamed media seems faster because we start watching it right away instead of waiting for the whole file to finish downloading.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Streaming simply means that the media plays as it is being downloaded. A portion of the media is buffered so that bandwidth variations do not interrupt playback. Video quality can be adjusted to prevent the buffer from running out.

At full quality it takes the same amount of time (or even less) to download a media file as it takes to stream it. But streamed media seems faster because we start watching it right away instead of waiting for the whole file to finish downloading.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Big companies like Disney implement a bunch of security into their app downloads to make it difficult/impossible for people to break the show out of the app and pirate it.

This kind of security will often include some kind of “call home” code where the app tries to contact a server to tell it that you’re watching the file, or to check if your subscription is still valid.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Big companies like Disney implement a bunch of security into their app downloads to make it difficult/impossible for people to break the show out of the app and pirate it.

This kind of security will often include some kind of “call home” code where the app tries to contact a server to tell it that you’re watching the file, or to check if your subscription is still valid.