So you fancy getting into the streaming game? Whether you want to show off your gaming skill, perform original (non-copyrighted!) music from your bedroom or just fancy chatting with the whole wide world; live streaming may be your calling. With so many platforms offering live streaming options it can be difficult to decide which one will suit your needs.
The best live streaming platforms should provide you with an interactive chat, video hosting and content management tools as well as a way to check analytics and enable your channel for monetisation. You’ll need the right hardware too, so if you’re looking to turn streaming into a full-time gig, then you may want to invest in a dedicated streaming PC.
Arguably the biggest name in live streaming is the Amazon-ownedservice, Twitch. The service is mostly centred around gaming streams with big eSport games like League of Legends, Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone taking up the top spots of the service’s streaming categories. However, there are also categories that aren’t necessarily game related: Just Chatting where the streamer talks with the chat, Music where the streamer play instruments or DJ sets and even ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) streams which are mostly women whispering into microphones shaped like an ear…if that’s what you enjoy!
Anyone can sign up for a free Twitch accountand start streaming but there are options to take your streaming channel further with two separate programmes. Its ‘Affiliate Program’ is available to channels with at least 50 followers, seven unique broadcast days and at least three viewers on every live stream. This program allows channels to accept paid subscriptions from viewers that range from $4.99, $9.99, $24.99. It also allows channels to earn ‘Bits’ which are virtual goods that viewers buy and donate to streamers and streamers earn revenue off of the Bits donated. Twitch also has a ‘Partner Program’that affords channels all the benefits of the affiliate program but with extra channel customization and the opportunity to earn revenue off of the ads played on their channels. There’s plenty of options to grow your streaming career on Twitch and if you centre on gaming content then it’s the go-to place to start streaming.
When anyone wants to watch a video online, YouTube is the first place people look to. Live streaming on YouTube is an option available to anyone with a channel already set up. All you need to do is hit the ‘Go Live’button in the top right corner on the front page and set up your camera and microphone and you’re good to go! During streams, users can chat to the streamer and other users live and send donations to the streamer. They can even rewind the stream to the beginning if they come in late. Once your stream is over it’s saved on your channel with no limit on how many streams you can backlog (Unlike Twitch which limits your stream backlog amount and has them expire after a certain time).
However, it can be pretty tough to grow an audience through live streaming alone, there are millions and millions of videos uploaded to YouTube every day which makes for pretty big competition. While your channel subscribers are notified when you go live, it’s unlikely that anyone will just stumble upon your streams unless they’re looking for it. Live streaming is just another feature of YouTube, not the focus, so you may want to establish an audience before starting streaming on the platform. However, that doesn’t make it a bad place to stream, it’s such a huge part of the internet that it’ll be easy to share your content outside of the platform.
Being a social media platform first and foremost, the streaming options available on Facebook are mostly more on the casual side. For the general user, you can stream straight from your mobile device to anyone on your friends list. The chat functionality is embedded into the side of the video and users can react with emojis that float over the video screen. This makes these streams usually more casual and features the streamer holding their phone to their face and casually answering questions from the chat. That’s not to say those big corporations don’t use it, the recent space launches from Virgin and Nasa were streamed on Facebook and other social media. But if you’re looking to make a living off of streaming out of your bedroom, this platform provides no monetisation options on live streaming so you won’t be able to pay rent by exclusively streaming here. The streaming options on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn offer a similarly casual live streaming experience. If you want to interact and grow your audience, streaming casually on social media platforms can really help!
An alternative to YouTube, Vimeo is primarily a video hosting platform but started offering live streaming services in 2017. Unlike Youtube, the service isn’t free. You’ll need to pay a monthly fee of £70 for basic live streaming options. This platform aims more towards businesses who want to stream professionally with webinars, corporate announcements or live Q&As. They do have options like pay per view which many creatives have taken advantage of when live streaming a concert or a first public viewing of a film. They even have privacy features not seen on many other platforms such as geoblocking and IP restriction in their Vimeo Enterprise package. If you need live streaming for work purposes or just want a more professional edge to your streaming content, Vimeo offers high quality video streaming and more user control if that justifies the price for you.
While the in-platform streaming options of social media may be more for a casual streamer, Restream allows you to bring the full professional streaming experience directly to these platforms. The free package allows you to stream to 30+ platforms at the same time. These include Facebook, Twitch, LinkedIn, YouTube and many more. You can manage the chats from each platform you’re streaming to within the Restream in-browser windows so you can interact with a much wider audience than you would on just one streaming platform. You will have to gain a devoted audience across these platforms first though! If you’re looking to cover all bases then this is the live streaming platform for you!
Pick the one that suits you
These are some of the best live streaming platforms out there. There are plenty that appeal to more specific niches but these cover a broad range where you can stream whatever your heart desires. With most of them being free to get started, you can start your streaming career today!