Live Video Streaming Services: A Comprehensive Guide

Live streaming services have been around for years, but it wasn’t until recently that they’ve become incredibly popular. One of the biggest changes to this type of media within the last decade is with the distribution methods. A popular TV episode used to bring everyone to the water cooler to chat about it the next day at the office. Today, that same episode can bring as many people to an online chat to discuss it moments after the premiere. This is thanks in part to services like Facebook and Twitter. In this guide, we will start off with the basics. For those who aren’t sure what live streaming is all about, we will help you out. Even for those who have used live streaming services in the past, there are several benefits, and we will cover those too. Lastly, we will go over some of the most popular platforms as well as some different ways you can use these.

What are live video streaming services?

Live broadcasting television was once the sole dominion of the television network and cable/satellite companies. The over the air to the consumer model was a very simple and generally easy to understand method for consumers to know that if they turned on the TV, they could watch something. Enter the internet age. In the beginning of the internet, content distribution was king. The internet’s ability to provide a one to many communication method was a perfect fit for content providers, it was easy to post content and have it viewable to any person on the planet with internet access. With the advent of the modern website, technologies like Flash, and the desire to interact with content, it was only a matter of time before live events and television on the internet would begin to take shape. Fast forward to modern times and the demand for quality live content on the internet has grown exponentially. The reasons for this are many from the ability to broadcast from anywhere in the world given today’s wireless technologies, the increased demand for mobile content, and the want from content providers to further to use the internet as a cheap content delivery platform, providing interactive content, without the burden of costly over the air broadcasting. Now at this point, some might want to start broadcasting live from their home PC in a very simple manner but the task of setting up one’s own live broadcast is not trivial. There are many hurdles to jump in terms of finding good software, choosing a content delivery network, and deciding on which hardware to use. Recognizing the growing demand and the complexity involved in setting up a live broadcast there has been an increase in live video streaming services now being offered by major content delivery networks, and even some specifically crafted software packages to give users the ability to do just that.

Benefits of using live video streaming services

Businesses are quickly realizing the potential for live streaming video for creating brand awareness and customer engagement. Whether it’s live streaming a company event, product training, or an exclusive interview with the CEO, live video adds a new dimension to your company’s video strategy. Living in the lap of the digital world, it becomes essential for you to familiarize yourselves with new strategies to make your presence felt on the World Wide Web. When it comes to making an online presence, upholding it becomes a major concern as there are several other websites competing in the same niche. Webcast or live video streaming has emerged as a potent weapon to make an online presence as it provides a myriad of options for making your website more interactive. The most significant advantage of live video streaming is its potential to reach a larger audience. Today’s consumer lives on a diet of on-demand digital content and is used to taking a pick and mix approach to the videos they watch. By providing live video, you give the opportunity to break into their world of social media and text messaging. The video can be shared across social networks, email, and embedded in other web pages, meaning that people can find out about it from an email or tweet, visit your site, and immediately watch the video.

Popular live video streaming platforms

Twitch is a very popular game streaming platform. It began as a spin-off of the now-defunct In the beginning, it was just a game streaming section of the site. However, Twitch grew very quickly and eventually became its own site. Twitch is known for being very user-friendly, having a variety of content, and a strong community. You can find some sort of gaming content on Twitch’s front page at any given time. Twitch has a partnership program for regular broadcasters. If you are accepted into this program, you can get a subscription button for your viewers to support your channel. Viewers can also donate via PayPal. Twitch has a relatively higher viewer retention rate, more repeat viewers, and a better word of mouth rate than any other platform. This makes it easier for a broadcaster to grow their channel. Although Twitch is tailored more towards gaming, they have been making an effort to support other types of content, even adding a “creative” section for artists.

There are many live video streaming platforms available today. However, each one is slightly different in its own way. With so many options, it can be hard to choose the right one. There are several things to consider when choosing a live video streaming platform. First, what is your budget? Free services may be efficient at first, but the quality may not be there. If you plan on this being a regular broadcast, it may be best to use a paid platform. Next, what is your content? Different platforms attract different audiences. Some are tailored more towards gaming, and others have a broader spectrum. Some platforms even have restrictions on content. Ensure that your content will be compatible with the chosen platform. The platform’s efficiency and ease of use is also an important factor. Some platforms may require a high-speed connection to get the stream quality you desire. High efficiency is important if you are doing a remote broadcast. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere and not be able to stream. Finally, it’s always a good idea to ask someone who has used the platform before. They can give you a firsthand look at the platform’s features and overall satisfaction.

Choosing the Right Live Video Streaming Service Provider

What type of content will I be broadcasting? This refers to the quality and bandwidth of your content, as well as the type of media you will be broadcasting. Different providers are suited to different types of content. If you are broadcasting high-quality HD content, you will need a provider that can offer high bandwidth and quality. If you are broadcasting live events, you will need a service that offers live broadcasting. If you are broadcasting a pay-per-view event, you will need e-commerce tools. Make a list of the essential features you require, ranked in order of importance. This will be useful when comparing different providers.

How often will I be broadcasting? Take note of how much content you will be broadcasting. Some providers are more suited to regular broadcasters with a large content library, while others are best for occasional broadcasting. Choose a service that compliments your broadcasting frequency.

What is my budget? If you have a small budget, try to look for a provider that offers a free trial period. This enables you to test the product before you commit. When comparing prices between different providers, make sure you are comparing the same features – cheaper does not always mean better. If you are considering using a specific provider, contact them to discuss pricing. They may be able to offer you a discount or special package.

To find the live streaming service provider that suits you best, it is important to determine your requirements; for example, do you want to broadcast live events or do you need on-demand streaming? Evaluate how you would benefit from the specific features each service offers. Ask yourself the following questions:

Factors to consider when selecting a provider

The following are a list of factors to consider: – Know the consumer – By understanding your customer and having a clear idea of the type of user you are targeting, it will be easier to decide what types of media and interactivity options are most important for you and your audiences. Different features can have very different effects on the viewing experience for various customers and their various Internet connections. – Content delivery and scalability – Will the service move to a higher level of streaming quality or will it be used for a variety of live events? Certain providers specialize in a single type of event streaming video online. Determine if this service is only for you (or if event specific) or if it’s a more permanent, long-term use. – Global reach – We are lucky now to have a plethora of global live streaming options for sport, entertainment or businesses all around the world. If your service is global, it is crucial to make sure that your provider has the capacity to deliver streams to various regions internationally. This may require different CDN options and support for multi-bitrate streaming.

Comparison of top live video streaming service providers

Choosing the right live video streaming service provider is very crucial to your success in this competitive market. The cost and compatibility of the service provided is going to differ greatly between the wide range of available products. It is important to have a sound strategy when selecting the best provider for your specific needs. First, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the live video stream. Are you looking to live stream an event? Or maybe this is a regular weekly show. Jot down your specific goals for what you want to achieve with your live stream. Next, consider your target audience. Different demographics may be prone to using different types of technology. You definitely want to make it as easy as possible for your viewers to tune into your live stream, so considering what your viewers already have access to is critical. For example, if you believe that the bulk of your viewers will want to watch the live stream on their mobile device, you will want to find a provider with a strong mobile platform. You should also consider what other types of media you might want to integrate with the live stream. Things like closed captioning and ad integration may require certain third-party software, and you will want to make sure your viewers are having a consistent experience. High-end premium content producers may also want to use the live stream as a means to deliver content to existing paid subscribers. This would likely require some sort of paywall integration, and you want to choose a service that provides this functionality with a seamless experience for the end user. Once you have identified your goals and needs, it’s time to start comparing the features of the top live video streaming service providers, and you can start narrowing down which ones are going to be the best match for you.

Pricing plans and features offered by different providers

Pricing is the underlying factor for most decisions in enlisting a professional. Start-up companies may feel constrained by this option, feeling the smallest choice is the biggest price. Free services are limited, and this may be an understatement. As an example, Stickam assumes their customers will get more than one viewer at a time (although unlikely with 0.0 marketing effort). In their free service, certain features are simply not accessible. Viewing limitations are put in place for those without pay. The plan under scrutiny will only feature information on plans priced at $100 or less per month. LiveVideo offers four different packages. The free service is basically a 14-day trial for the middle tier. For $9.95 monthly, $59.95 bi-annually or $119.95 per year, the PLUS package includes 50GB of storage and 50GB of bandwidth per month. For those planning on doing a lot of broadcasting and storing large video files, the PRO package might be best. At $49.95 monthly, $299.70 bi-annually or $599.40 yearly, 200GB of storage and 200GB of broadcast bandwidth should quell fears of limited data. Any attempt to go over these limits will result in an automatic upgrade to that package. Finally, there is a package for the big spenders. Enterprise offers varying limits of storage/bandwidth in addition to 1000GB, costing $499.95 to $4599.40 per year.

Live Streaming Production Services: Enhancing Your Live Video Streams

A high quality live video stream can be achieved with a few simple tweaks to your current workflow. The first step you should take is pre-production. Before you begin your live event, you should first create a checklist to make sure everything will go smoothly with no major technical issues. You should cross-check your streaming destination is set up and check out its video and audio formats and quality settings. Ensure that your internet connection has enough bandwidth to stream the event, and if you are using wireless internet, ensure your wireless signal is strong in the areas you will be live streaming. A simple way to do this is by using a site survey program, such as inSSIDer. Next, you should check your audio and video equipment to make sure it is suitable for your event. This is done by testing audio and video levels, and make sure there is no background noise that may affect the quality of your broadcast. After you have completed pre-production, you may have done these steps yourself and realized that this may be too much work to add on to an already stressful event. Pre-production is where live streaming production services can really help.

Live streaming production services are a collection of all the services that are required to take a production from a few cameras and an internet connection to a fully produced webcast. Live stream production companies take the load off of the organization or individual wishing to broadcast a live event and allow them to focus on their event without having to worry about all the technical details involved in the live video stream. Professional live streaming production is very important when considering the best way to improve the quality of your live streaming services. Most traditional video production companies just have the experience with on-location video production and therefore they are not suited for your live stream. When working with a video crew, you will quickly notice that this style of production is very different from recorded video production. The best video crew in the world might have no experience with live video production, so it is important to work with live streaming production companies who specialize in live video production.

What are live streaming production services?

Stephanie and Dan Garfield used a live streaming production company to live stream their wedding ceremony in Australia to family around the world who couldn’t attend. Dan Garfield explains that initially “we looked at doing it ourselves, but it was far too complicated. We needed someone who had done it before to help us and make sure it all worked as we didn’t want to be worrying about it on the day.” This is a good point, unless you have someone with the relevant experience, it can be very easy to underspec on the technology and make some beginner errors.

The first thing the client will need to do is communicate with a number of companies or get recommendations to find a suitable live streaming production service. There are many things to consider, and it’s often very beneficial to involve the live streaming company during the early planning stages. This way, there is a clear understanding of what is needed to achieve the desired outcome, and a plan can be developed with a clear understanding of the costs involved and the time frames.

Live streaming production services are specialized companies that help producers, content developers, and event managers to take their events and linear channels into the live streaming world. Often, this involves the production of the live stream itself, as well as providing a content delivery network and sometimes a web page with a video player and subscription functionality. These companies work with their clients to understand the event and to create the most cost-effective live stream that achieves the client’s aims without overspecifying on technology.

Importance of professional live streaming production

Live streaming is a recently developed platform for web-based high quality live transmissions through streaming media that is broadcasted into the internet through streaming media. The term “live streaming” can be used loosely because a large range of streaming methods can be used, which can be real time, streamed, and streamed on demand. Live streaming is more difficult than on demand streaming because there are a number of factors that can affect the quality of service. For example, network congestion and hardware failures can affect the quality of a video and the experience the user has. These are factors that on demand video does not have to worry about because if the video is streamed at the server end before being stored on the internet, the quality of the video does not affect the quality of the viewing experience.

Key services offered by live streaming production companies

Finally, and most importantly perhaps, is project management. This is usually aimed at larger businesses and their events. A project manager will look over the entire process and see that everything is running smoothly at each stage. This is not something to brush over, as even the tiniest technical error in a live video event can be a disaster and hard to come back from. A project manager will also have contingency plans for any issues that could arise.

High-level webcast production is the process of producing live video content and is probably the most common service webcasting companies offer. This simply involves directing the live video in a professional manner relative to what the content is and has the highest rate of viewer engagement.

The first is consulting. This involves an expert of the company carefully inspecting the current brand and webcasting approach and seeing where improvements can be made. This could involve them observing a current live stream and giving feedback afterwards. The quality of a consultancy service can vary greatly, but it is an important step in discovering where to go with a digital event and how best to represent the brand. An improvement upon this could be content strategy development, in which the company will map out the goals of the event and the best way to achieve them in terms of what the content should be and what webcasting methods are used. This really guides a company to the “right path” of success.

The key services offered by companies come in a lot of different forms at a wide range of costs. Some of those services that can be discussed in greater detail in future articles include customized player design/improvement, the creation of a microsite, social networking promotion, and campaign development. But for now, we will just highlight a more generalized version of those services.

Tips for selecting the right live streaming production service provider

The first step toward hiring a live streaming production company is having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Take some time to write down answers to questions such as: What is the main goal of your live stream? How will you define it as a success? Is the live stream for internal or external viewers? Is this event a one off or the start of a series of broadcasts? What is your budget? What is the ideal date and duration of your live stream? Do you already have an audience or ways in which to promote your live stream? Any company worth their salt will ask you these questions and may need to come and do a site visit before giving a quote. If you cannot answer these questions when asked, it will be difficult to get an accurate quote, as pricing is generally based on time, equipment and crew required. A smaller company may be flexible on price if they think you have a great idea and will be very disappointed if it cannot come to fruition due to lack of budget. Both parties need to be realistic about this and sometimes it is better to have a phased approach, especially if your event is the first of its kind. A good production team will be able to advise you and help you make the right creative decisions. Always request a written proposal. This should include clear goals and deliverables, pricing, and an estimated timeline for completion. This documentation will protect you and the production team and make sure that everyone is on the same page from start to finish.

Best Practices for Successful Live Video Streaming

Acquire the required video and audio equipment and test it well in advance of the live video. At this stage, it is also important to consider the internet connection where the live video will take place, ensuring it is suitable for streaming. Scheduled and publicized live video events will not look good if there are delays due to setup or technical difficulties. Finally, creating a buzz about the live video through promoting it on other platforms or social media will help to ensure a good viewer turnout.

Choosing the right location to film is very important. Different live videos will have different location requirements. For example, a live music performance will require a very different location to a live video seminar. Consider your audience and choose a location that will best suit the content. Always seek permission to film on location if it is not your own. If the location is outdoors and there is the possibility of poor weather, ensure you have a backup location. This may seem trivial, but not having a backup plan has spelled disaster for many live videos in the past.

Preparing for a live video stream Spend time to create a production plan.

This will help smooth the transition from pre-production to live production. Knowing the different scenes and elements of the live video and having a plan to smoothly transition between them will result in a live video that is well paced and keeps the attention of your viewers. A production plan can be in any level of detail; however, the more complex the live video, the more detailed the plan needs to be in order to be effective. Be sure to also create backup content in case any part of the live video doesn’t go to plan.

The live stream itself may be the most exciting part of the live video process, but to make a live video that is professional and effective, it is important to go through several stages of planning before the broadcast occurs. This pre-production stage should not be done hastily. It is this stage that will determine the quality of your content and ensure you produce something that achieves the aims you have set out. Planning and preparation usually involves some or all of these steps.

Best practices for successful live video:

Preparing for a live video stream

Start by defining a clear objective of what you want to achieve on your live video stream. Consider the expected outcome and the action that you want your viewers to take. From this, you can identify the best method of delivering this message. It is important to be realistic and not to expect too much. It is better to start with one strong and effective stream which is well executed where you can measure the response, rather than diving straight into several different types of streams covering a multitude of topics. Next, consider the content and the duration of your live stream. Get to the point and only cover the most important information to your viewers. It can be helpful to produce a script or a running order to ensure that the content is organised and focused, and doesn’t go off topic. Finally and most importantly, tell people when you’re going live. Inform your viewers ahead of time when to expect your stream, rather than relying on an audience being around at the time you go live, a scheduled stream is more likely to pull in a bigger audience.

Ensuring high-quality video and audio

The increase in quality is vastly improving and it is predicted that high-speed video streaming will become similar to that of viewing a TV channel or a DVD. With this in mind, it is essential that audio and video quality be as high as possible to ensure the best user experience. High-quality audio, for example stereo as opposed to mono, can be the tipping point between a radio broadcast and a TV broadcast, and therefore a standard must be set. High-quality video is also a priority. It is advised that video resolution should never be higher than the bit rate can handle. This is because decoded video is stored in the player’s buffer and when the buffer is full, video surpassing the bit rate is skipped and hence wasted. Video must also look to cover full-screen display and maintain its frame rate.

Live video streaming services are becoming increasingly popular and within the next few years perhaps invaluable for web marketers. This is with the constant development of widely available high-speed internet access and its prevalent use, while real-time video display does not require lengthy download periods or large amounts of free hard drive space, typically associated with other digital video content. Videos can be streamed live and subsequently saved and archived for on-demand viewing.

Video and audio quality for the web looks at multimedia delivery to the web. It is argued that, although the web was not initially intended as a broadcast medium, increased modem speeds and the arrival of the IP-based network infrastructure ensure streaming delivery of multimedia is set to become the primary method of delivery for this content.

Engaging your audience during live streams

Call for action. A call to action is a request to your viewer to do something after watching your media. Using a call for action during your live streams can greatly increase viewership and awareness. One example of using a call for action is a request to sign up for a newsletter X number of times during a live stream to receive a special prize. Even though the viewer has heard the call for action multiple times, it is still effective, especially if the desired action is simple to complete. A similar tactic is to repeatedly ask the viewer to vote on a particular topic that will be discussed during the next video. Changing the location or method of a repeated call to action can also yield increased results. An easy way to track a call for action during a live stream is to simply ask your viewers to do something in chat and monitor the quantity and relevancy of the responses. If the desired action is achieved, you will likely see an increase in chat activity.

Use synchronized content during video streams. Many websites provide content that is only available during a live stream. This provides additional incentives for viewers to watch the stream at that time. Events like sports, news, and live television shows are best suited for this type of service since it is a natural fit for synchronized content, but it is also possible for other video with a little extra work. One example of providing content that is only available during a live stream is to create a live talk with a Q&A session at the end. During the talk, a pre-recorded video will be made available which only answers a question that was asked during the live stream. The person asking the question will then be directed to the pre-recorded video during a break in the talk. If the event gets frequent questions on a particular topic, it can provide media that directly satisfies its viewers. Another example is to show a flash card for 15 seconds at the end of a section, and if the viewer answers the question related to that card in chat within 10 minutes, they will be entered to win a prize. Without implementing the flash card and time limit, there would be no reason for the viewer to stay alert and be waiting for the next section of the talk. Offering files for download during live video can also provide a great way to get viewers to interact during the stream.

Analyzing and improving your live video streaming performance

Quality of Service/Experience. This is generally measured by the number of rebuffers per session and the time to first video. Every stream will always have some rebuffers, even if unnoticeable to the audience. For example, a service could show rebuffers reduced by 50ms, yet it may well have been a wasted effort if the rebuffs are infrequent and not noticed by the viewer. A buffer ahead JW Player setting to reduce rebuffering will impact time to first video. An average amount of live stream video viewing starts are around 4 within a set time frame. High numbers of viewers joining but not staying may be a sign of performance issues. Cockpit Device Output activity can be useful to compare incoming stream rates and player buffer fill rates to see if the player is being starved.

Audience behavior, specifically concurrent viewers. You might have a large audience over a show and not notice a problem, but if a large portion of the audience is experiencing buffering, it is likely they will not return if this happens each time. Higher viewer numbers will require more outgoing bandwidth. Fallback to a lower quality audio-only broadcast stream is an option for those on lower bandwidth or a more basic internet connection.

Live streaming platforms generally provide a dashboard with performance metrics or allow you to set up Google Analytics. While each service is different, there are common metrics to watch for.

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