Update! Choosing The Best Live Streaming Provider

One year ago, I wrote an article comparing the top streaming providers.  At that time, Facebook was not an option and YouTube was relatively un-used.  Now, we can stream to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Instagram.

The live stream revolution has officially kicked into full gear.  With more streaming options, we are really left with two categories.  Those categories are password protected or public.  If a stream needs to be protected, Livestream and Ustream are still the best secure providers to use.  You will need to pay for the white label treatment, but these providers allow any AV company to set up and test a stream many times before an event.  That is because they work off of the channel system.  A channel is a dedicated place where a stream will occur.  The password is for viewing access to that channel.

Public streams through YouTube and Facebook assume that your branded page is the channel and that each stream is an event.  With an event driven stream, audiences are really depending on notifications to find your stream.  This makes it tougher to set up and test a stream hours or days before an event because these providers generate new URLS and stream keys each time.  It is done to facilitate the impulsive streamer and while easy to use, inadvertently creates more work for an AV company to privately preview a stream.

An updated chart comparing the top live stream providers and their benefits.

I updated the chart I used a year ago.  I also included Twitter and Instagram because these applications offer streaming although it is difficult, or impossible to work with hardware encoders.  Instagram is closer to Snapchat than YouTube and really is meant for the casual user.  You will need to stream directly from your mobile device over wireless.  The iPhone 7 may have a 4K video camera, but the stream will still be a low bit rate and potentially not even full HD.

If we pour through the FAQ of some of these providers as well as encoding software, they recommend using a bitrate that is half of the upload speed available wherever you are streaming.  Some company headquarters have well over 100 Mbps upload speeds which leaves plenty of room for a full 1080 HD stream.  An HD stream ranges from 2000 KBps to 5000 KBps  YouTube for instance will happily accept these high bit rate streams.

It is best to use the hardline internet connections available on location although it is possible to use a wireless 4G or LTE cellular data plan.  Reliability is a major concern with wireless technology, but in some areas, speeds are high enough to send a decent stream.  The Facebook app will warn you when the connection is too pour to stream, but it can vary the bitrate wide enough to accomodate those connections.

So now we ask ourselves again, what is the best? Here at Repertoire, we would ask you what your target audience is.  Customers looking for a secure private channel to stream company meetings should use Ustream.  Customers wanting a large audience engagement and high discoverability should use Facebook.  Although YouTube has been more reliable for streaming and is a destination for video content, most viewers are lounging on Facebook and will react to notifications that Facebook automatically creates.

Please reach out to us if you would like to stream your next event.  Common event types for streaming are company meetings, brand announcements, and major social events.  The seldom created streams which could be a good idea are weddings, funerals, and bench mark life events.  Transport those distant friends, coworkers, and family members to the front row with our technology and expertise!

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