Top 5 Live Streaming Platforms

With the live streaming market growing 99% from 2019 to 2020 and expected to reach a market estimation of $25 billion by 2023, it is evident that live streaming is here to stay. However, with so many live streaming platforms, it can be pretty confusing which live streaming platform might be ideal for your business or personal use. So, in this article, we have gathered 5 of the best live streaming platforms, to help you make a more informed decision and help you choose the best platform tailored to your needs.

What Is A Live Streaming Platform?

A live streaming platform is a broadcasting tool that allows you to create or join real-time video broadcasts. Over the past years, there has been an increase in the number of live streaming platforms and events out there, which have provided individuals and businesses the opportunity to create virtual interactions where the host or facilitator of the live stream and the audience participating in the stream can interact instantaneously.

How To Choose A Streaming Platform:

There are various types of streaming platforms out there, each with its features, and choosing the best one can be pretty confusing. So, in this section, we would walk you through certain attributes to look out for, to help you make an informed decision when choosing a streaming platform.

i.Your Purpose For Live Streaming

When it comes to producing a live stream, it is either you are trying to live stream a virtual event (on your PC or by using your PC) or you are trying to live stream a physical event. Well, depending on the type of live stream certain platforms might be ideal for you.

  • Virtual Live Streaming: This type of live stream involves the creator live streaming an event directly from their PC or by solely using the camera of a PC, mobile phone, laptop, or tablet to live stream– usually this type of streaming doesn’t involve the use of sophisticated cameras. Examples of these kinds of streaming include webinars, live streaming games, or live streaming yourselves behind your computer. Virtual live streaming is mostly done over social media platforms such as TikTok Live, IG Live, Facebook Live, YouTube live, and many more.
  • In-person Streaming: These live streams often require a physical location and it often involves the use of multiple powerful cameras to live stream events either from one location or multiple locations. This type of stream requires the use of powerful software to process the data from the cameras in real time for viewers to watch either from their PCs or their television set. This type of live stream often involves the use of live stream software such as Wirecast, OBS, Xsplit, and many others.

ii.Streaming Time

Some streaming platforms have a limit on the number of minutes or hours you can stream at a go. Most platforms limit your time if you are using a free account, while others allow you to stream for an unlimited time regardless of the type of account you are on. For example, a platform like Twitch allows you to stream for a maximum of 48 hours continuously per single broadcast. Also, with some platforms, the streaming time you get will greatly depend on your price plan or the level you are at.

iii.Customization Options

Customization options refer to the features a streaming platform offers its users. For example, some platforms might allow you to use virtual backgrounds; while others have a high stream video quality; some streaming platforms allow you to stream to other platforms simultaneously– this feature is called multi-stream, while others allow you to monetize your live streaming content.

Our Top 5 Streaming Platforms:

i.StreamYard: Best Overall

The reason why we chose StreamYard as our best overall is because it is a streaming service that offers tons of features for free, and even with its paid version, it is quite more affordable than some options on this list.

One prominent feature of its multi-stream feature; this feature has given StreamYard an advantage over other streaming platforms like Vimeo and Wirecast which will charge you a hefty fee to enjoy similar features. The multistreaming feature allows you to share your live stream on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms with just a click of a button.

StreamYard is intuitive and it makes setting up and sharing the link for your live stream an easy process. StreamYard comes in three pricing plans: Free, Basic, and Professional, and each plan is power-packed with features that make your streaming session a breeze.

With the free package, you get to enjoy up to 6 participants on the screen simultaneously; this can be a great feature if you want to include other virtual participants in your live stream. For example, if you are having a Webinar and you want to add some speakers, then this feature would be a great add-on. However, if you want more participants, you might have to go in for their paid packages, which gives you up to 10 participants. The availability of on-screen participants makes this platform ideal for individuals and small businesses who just want to stream with their little group.

Another feature you might love is that with even the free version, every participant can share their screen and each participant can utilize the green screen to change the background to any virtual background of their choice. However, one feature that can be a nuisance for individuals on the free plan is the presence of the StreamYard logo during each live streaming session.

Finally, users on the free plan can have up to 20 hours of live stream per month, while those on a paid plan have an unlimited number of stream time.

StreamYard offers other functionalities as well such as:

  • On-screen comments
  • Brand colors
  • Banners
  • Logos (for paid versions only)
  • Custom RTMP destinations (for only paid plans)
  • Absence of the StreamYard logo during streaming.
  • And many more.

We recommend StreamYard to small and medium-sized businesses that would want to seamlessly interact with individuals on various platforms without a hassle.

ii.YouTube Live: Best Live Streaming Platform for Creators

YouTube Live has been gaining traction over the past years and this is due to its free live streaming service. Being part of the pacesetters of the live streaming industry, YouTube makes live streaming a breeze.

One unique feature of YouTube is its flexibility and ease of creating and managing a live stream. To create your live stream session, you need to do is to just hit the ‘Create Button’ and you should be able to create your live screen, given that you already signed in to YouTube. Creators also have the option of scheduling your YouTube live stream to enable your stream to appear on the timeline to notify your subscribers or people who search for your live stream.

Besides scheduling your stream, YouTube allows you to choose who views your live stream; whether you want it to be a private live stream or open to the general public on the YouTube platform, you have the option to do as you please.

Talking about flexibility, YouTube gives you the power to activate or deactivate live chats or allow only a specific group–either subscribers, members, or anyone else– to send a chat. You have the option of also enabling DVR on your live streams to allow viewers to watch any moment of the live stream they miss while the stream is still in session.

Once you hit 1000 subscribers, YouTube allows you to monetize your stream in so many ways, but before that, you need to sign up for the YouTube Partnership program. Some monetization options include the Super Chat feature where viewers can prioritize their chats by donating to your live stream; you can also run ads to earn some extra cash, or viewers can purchase exclusive Super Stickers to show their support, and finally, you can have viewers subscribe as members to enjoy extra perks from your channel.

Finally, you get to track the progress and analytics of your live stream; this gives you an insight into the performance of your live stream to help you improve your audience experience. You can check both real-time and post-live stream analytics from any device without any issues.

With all the above-mentioned, YouTube still offers the following functionalities:

  • Creation of Highlight
  • Premiering New Video
  • Showing a Trailer
  • And many others.

We highly recommend YouTube for individual content creators who want to build a community where they can interact with their fans/subscribers in real time.

iii.Twitch: Best Live Streaming Platform for Gamers

Created in 2011, Twitch has grown to become the most popular live streaming platform for gamers. Twitch comes with a plethora of features that are tailored to the needs of gamers, and even gives gamers the chance to earn money doing what they love. That being said, other content creators use Twitch to live stream their music, sporting events, and any other content.

Twitch is a free live streaming platform for individuals at or over the age of 18; however, teenagers and kids underage will be required to have an adult help them sign up. Once the signup process is completed, streamers have access to every feature on the platform. One feature similar to YouTube is that you (as a streamer) can have your viewers follow your channel to help you build a community.

Also, streamers can monetize their live content via various monetization options such as through subs, bits, Amazon affiliates, gifted subs, ads, and many more– which is why it is loved by gamers around the globe! You can activate live comments during your live streams to enable you to interact with your viewers in real time and vice versa.

Besides that, get to track your progress and achievements through the Achievement tab on your dashboard. Unlocking new achievements can be a great way to progress from a regular streamer to an Affiliate or later a Partner on the platform, which gives you access to more features for each level you reach. In addition, you get to view analytics about your channel’s performance to give you insight into how your channel is fairing.

Some other features of Twitch include:

  • Subscriber badge (for Affiliates and Partners)
  • Custom Cheermotes (for Affiliates and Partners)
  • Verified Badge (for Partners only)
  • And many more.

iv.Wirecast: Best Professional Live Streaming

Wirecast is one of the most popular live-streaming software out there for professional events such as live streaming production of church events, meetings, seminars, sporting events, and many more. It allows you to connect cameras, encoders, mixers, and switchers to the software to help you seamlessly produce a professional-looking, high-resolution in-person live streaming event.

For my professional in-person live streamers, Wirecast has a sweet spot between price and functionality. Even though the one-time payment option of Wirecast might seem pricey, it is quite more affordable than other options like Vimeo, which is why we chose Wirecast as our best professional live streaming platform. If you are into live production broadcasts, then it would be worth the money. The features fortified in this software make it a great choice for any business looking for a professional solution for their in-person broadcast events.

The first impressive feature is that compared to other in-person live streaming software like OBS, Wirecast is pretty easy to set up and intuitive to navigate the software. This intuitiveness coupled with the tons of robust features makes this software our choice for professional live streaming events.

Another feature that makes Wirecast stand out is the unlimited number of inputs the software can handle. With Wirecast, you can connect as many cameras and audio inputs as you want to the software, and it would process all these inputs seamlessly in real-time; all you need to ensure is that you have a computer system that can process these inputs.

Also, Wirecast can be used for social media streaming; however, unlike YouTube and Twitch, you might not have the ability to monetize your events. That being said, one of the few features it shares with other social media live streaming sites is that it allows for real-time audience engagement via commenting.

In addition, Wirecast allows users to integrate third-party apps and APIs to enable them to enjoy more features than what’s available. Businesses and brands have the flexibility of showcasing their brand identity through the customizable branding feature, which allows you to add your logo, brand name, and brand banner to your live streaming events. The addition of customizable branding is made possible, thanks to the in-built powerful video editing and management feature engineered into the app.

Finally, this software doesn’t have a free plan; however, you have the option of opting for a free trial for a couple of days. After the free trial expires you can either sign up for their Wirecast Studio plan or the Wirecast Pro plan.

Some other notable features of this app include:

  • Content Management
  • Drag and Drop
  • Session Recording
  • Conferencing
  • Video Streaming
  • Multi-channel Distribution
  • Monitoring
  • And many more.

v.Vimeo Livestream: Premium Professional Live Streaming Platform

You probably know Vimeo to be a video-sharing platform for high-quality professional videos; however, over the past years, it diverged into the live streaming space and has risen through the ranks to become one of the best live streaming platforms. If you have some cash to spare and you want to invest in a premium live streaming service that provides you with almost all the features you need, then Vimeo is for you!

One feature that makes Vimeo stand out is that with Vimeo, you can live stream two separate events simultaneously at high resolutions from one Vimeo account. Let’s say you are live streaming an event occurring at the same time that takes place in two different rooms, then you can utilize this feature to broadcast these events in real-time. The concurrent feature coupled with the split-screen technology of Vimeo enables you to view each event separately on one screen. The concurrent live streaming feature is something most platforms do not have, and even if they do have it, they do not do it as well as Vimeo does.

In addition, Vimeo can be used as a social media live streaming platform, as well as, an in-person live streaming platform; however, the difference between Vimeo and Wirecast is that Vimeo allows users to monetize their content by integrating multiple in-built monetization tools. Users are allowed to monitor the progress of their live streams and other video content by utilizing the report analytics feature.

Also, just like StreamYard, you can stream your event to multiple social media platforms simultaneously without any hassle, and you have the option of enabling chat options to allow your audience to engage with you in real time. If chats are not enough, you have the option of video chatting with your audience while live streaming for a more interactive experience.

Propagate your brand to the world by adding your brand’s logo and other brand overlays during your live stream to help your audience and prospects identify and connect with your brand.

That being said, you can control the various features of this app remotely without the need of being physically present at the venue of the event.

Some other notable features of Vimeo include:

  • Audio capture
  • HD resolution during streams
  • Voice over
  • Video conferencing
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Session recording
  • Multimedia support
  • And many more.
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