How To Choose A Live Streaming Provider

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Live streaming has become a necessity to include with major events.  We’re just beginning to enter a world where the majority has access to broadband internet allowing them to watch high definition video live from anywhere else in the world. The renaissance of live streaming has begun, and it is exciting to see how the ecosystem of providers will evolve to bring more services and features.

Event producers searching for streaming solutions are faced with the difficult task of picking a streaming provider.  So how do you choose a live streaming platform?  This information can be difficult to access unless you speak with the sales representatives for each provider.

Each streaming provider has common characteristics.  They let you create events in channels and give you an address to upload your stream.  Their servers then supply your many viewers with a stable connection.  Our favorite top three providers are Livestream, Ustream, and YouTube.  Each has beefy supplies of servers to handle the viewing hours (number of viewers by time viewing), but not everyone gives you the flexibility to secure your stream with a password, integrate ads, or even prevent ads and banners.

We’ve compiled a chart of essential features found through the pricing pages of each company’s website. You can use this to help you decide which streaming provider to use for your event.

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As you can see, if budget is your top concern, taking advantage of the free trial periods through Ustream can be great, and YouTube is always free, but if you need that professional edge you will be handing over hundreds of dollars a month to get some extra features.

Analytics is useful for those gaining market data from their streams, but not the core purpose of streaming for many others.  Thankfully, analytics comes standard with even the cheapest streaming resources, except for Livestream Basic.

Channel customization goes hand in hand with creating a branded look for your viewers.  So far, only Ustream discloses that this is a feature they offer.  However, if you are planning to embed the stream in another website this may not be a huge issue.

YouTube has aggressive copyright protection algorithms that will quickly shut down your event, and potentially freeze your account from further streaming.  Although streaming copyrighted material is illegal unless you have permission, Livestream and Ustream will let the ringtones and walk off music slide if they leak through.  Something to keep in mind when your audio tech starts piping down top 40 after the show.  YouTube also requires a channel in good standing before it opens up the Live option.  Don’t expect to create a Google account and be up and running in a day.

Finally, we come to the quality of the stream.  HD broadcasting is certainly the standard for television and home movies, but it requires a lot of bandwidth on location to push that signal out.  On top of that, Ustream doesn’t start letting you use full HD (1080p) until you buy in at the Enterprise level.

No one is even talking about 4K yet and that is a big YET.  Ultra high definition will undoubtedly become the new standard and YouTube already has the pipes built for this.  You may be able to call up Livestream and Ustream and work out a deal, but 4K is going to require a massive amount of bandwidth dedicated to the stream at the location of the show.

So who is the best? Well, if we at Repertoire had to choose for you, our money is on Ustream.  You can start for free and be ready in a day.  Also, despite the upper limit of 720p resolution, the image quality will really be limited by the upload speed of your internet connection on location. If you don’t like it after your event, just cancel your free subscription.

Try out some of these providers for yourself and speak to your video experts.  Find out how you can integrate them into your projects.  The secret behind a good stream is the infrastructure behind the video production.  Quality video technicians know about digital noise grain effecting bit rate and how to synchronize audio and video.  If you have a big project, hire a quality production team that will build the infrastructure required to make a spectacular event.  Happy streaming!

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