Streaming used to be painful. There were 100 different types of players – some needed special applications or plugins, some only worked on some types of computers, some required special decoders that required breaking patent rights.
In 2016, 2/3rds of streaming is now on mobile devices – laptops, tablets, smart phones and the like. The incompatibilities were a major problem.
The solution is HTML5, which is now built into all current browsers. The technical details of how a stream starts is handled by a negotiation between the browser and the streaming service.
There is only one of the big streaming providers that does not have an HTML5 implementation – Securenet Systems. I told them about a year ago that I could no longer recommend them to a radio station owner because of the lack of an Html5 solution. They provide mobile support (only if the station pays for it) by creating custom made apps with one station per app. That’s unworkable. People are not going to load 30 radio apps on their smartphone.
Iheart is an exception – while it requires downloading an app, that one app has over 1,000 US based radio stations, not just those owned by iHeartmedia.
Shortly, I will start removing support for non-HTML5 compatible streams. I had already made that the semi official position.