Live streaming is here, and it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. With the never-ending list of streaming platforms to choose from, it can become overwhelming to know which one is best suited for your hybrid or virtual event. That is why we have created this comparison guide to compare the best live streaming platforms in 2022.
First, it’s important to define what it is, and how it relates to hybrid and virtual events. Live streaming, as the name suggests, is the process of streaming media live. And while streaming is the process of consuming already-recorded audio or video directly from an internet source. Live streaming is all about the content being broadcasted in real-time. Now how does it relate to a virtual or hybrid event? Let’s consider first an in-person event.
Imagine you have a guest speaker that everyone on your team would benefit from hearing, but not everyone on your team can be there in person. You would then have two options. Option one: record the in-person event and post it on the internet for people to stream later. Or option two: livestream the entire event so people can watch it as it happens –– as if they were there in-person the whole time. That’s what hybrid events are all about. It’s allowing people from all around the world to experience something together. In real time.
It’s easy to understand the benefits, but this article is meant to shine a light on the applications that will bring these benefits to life. Before we dive deeper into a few, it’s important we understand the metrics that inform our decisions: user-friendliness, functionality, product features, video quality, security and of course, cost.
Live Streaming User-Friendliness:
Before choosing a live streaming application, strongly consider how comfortable you or someone on your team is with technology. As technology evolves and becomes more effective, it often becomes more intricate too. A cellphone in the 1900’s is significantly simpler than a current day Android device. Opting for a platform that is intuitive and has a simple user experience could be invaluable. You also want to consider an application that offers technical and event support. But don’t let that be the determining factor, we at FCCF have ample experience using live streaming applications. Should that support not be available, we can happily fill the void.
Why do you need a live streaming application in the first place? What’s the purpose? Are you trying to bring your team together? Are you trying to grow an audience? These are important questions to ask, because marketability will play a massive role in the success of your event. You may want an application that can integrate with social media. You may want an application that enables you to customize plug-ins. You may want one that allows you to embed the stream on your website. Does the application exist in an open or a closed environment? Is it secure? Depending on your needs and objectives, these questions need to be considered.
Different Product Features
You also want to consider the features. How sophisticated is the application? Should your virtual or hybrid events grow, can the application sustain your growth? If your tech-savviness expands, will there be enough bells and whistles to explore? In most cases, basic live streaming will suffice, but as we evolve, and as our needs become more refined, we want to ensure we have an application that can evolve with us.
Live Streaming Video Quality
How important is video quality to you? Some live streaming applications lower the quality of your video for the sake of improved connectivity or lowered bandwidth. Some applications prohibit you from using an external camera for filming. At the end of the day, how our video is seen by our audience is something that can’t be ignored. We need to know what our final product will look like, before we make a decision.
How important is security to you? Do you want uninvited people to join the livestream? Do you want people to have access to the recorded video after the event? Should the recordings be encrypted? Again, we need to consider our needs when deciding how important these questions are. Like an exclusive party, sometimes we want an intricate vetting process. But not all applications will be the same in this regard. It’s important to look through the features and understand just how secure your live streaming sessions will be.
Like most products and services, prices fluctuate. Some options are inexpensive with less functionality or reduced quality, and some options are on the higher end with superior security and more product features. It’s important to understand exactly what we need, so we avoid overpaying for something that a cheaper application could do, or underpaying for something that doesn’t properly meet our requirements.
Let’s consider a few options:
User-friendliness – Vimeo offers technical and event support, but only in their most expensive Vimeo Enterprise package. This could be discouraging, given that event management can be difficult from both a logistical and technical standpoint. But FCCF can be there to offer that support and fill that void.
Functionality – All Vimeo livestreams can be integrated with social media, including Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Streams can also be embedded on your website, and depending on your needs, can function as an open or closed environment.
Product Features – Features include live polling, Q&As, real-time audience chats, streaming analytics, automated live closed captions, and live overlay graphics for branding opportunities.
Video Quality – Vimeo offers unlimited live streaming from a smartphone or an external camera. Content will be streamed ad-free in 1080p resolution, and automatically archived on their platform. One of their noteworthy features is the option to use multi cameras to create dynamic shots for more engaging events.
Security – Vimeo offers password protection, player embedded restrictions, private link sharing, and single sign-on authentication. This is perfect for private events; ones that require pre-registrations, ticketing, or referrals.
User-friendliness – Dacast offers 24/7 support for all their plans. This can be invaluable for people or organizations that don’t have the technical expertise to manage their own livestreams. However we still recommend incorporating full-time support for your events, because as much as Dacast can help you handle your event, we at FCCF can help you optimize it.
Functionality – Dacast livestreams can also be integrated with social media, including Facebook Live and YouTube Live, and streams can be embedded on your website seamlessly. Like Vimeo, Dacast livestreams can function as an open or closed environment.
Product Features – Features include streaming analytics, and live overlay graphics for branding opportunities. When comparing the two entry-level tiers for Vimeo and Dacast, Vimeo offers much more in this category.
Video Quality – Dacast also offers unlimited live streaming from a smartphone or external camera. And like Vimeo, content will be streamed ad-free in 1080p resolution, and automatically archived on their platform. It’s important to note that Vimeo offers 1TB more in storage when looking at their most comparable plans.
Security – Security is definitely one of the selling points for Dacast. They offer top-tier service, even in their entry level plan. This includes password protection, geographic and domain restrictions, dynamic token security, video encryption, integrated paywalls for pay-per-view and subscription payments and HTTPS video delivery.
Cost – their Basic Plan is offered at $55/month, their Event Plan at $89/month and their Scale Plan at $270/month, with customizable plans available for large-scale needs. One thing to note is the final price of your Dacast package will depend on the bandwidth needed per event. Customers can use their bandwidth calculator to make a cost-estimate.
User-friendliness – YouTube is an incredibly intuitive platform. As a long-standing video-sharing and video-hosting website, it’s not surprising that people find it easy to navigate their interface. And with a massive community already on the platform, it wouldn’t be difficult to find a plethora of videos walking you through any issue you may still encounter.
Functionality – Using a service like Restream can allow you to stream from multiple platforms at once. So, although YouTube doesn’t innately integrate with other platforms, there are external options that can satisfy this need. YouTube, being a public platform, isn’t the best place for private events. But as an open environment, it brings benefits that other platforms can’t, that being its search potential.
Product Features – Features include live polling, Q&As, real-time audience chats, streaming analytics, automated live closed captions, basic-level overlay for branding opportunities and built-in options for ad integration. As a unique benefit, YouTube allows you to schedule live streams in advance, which can be a powerful marketing tool.
Video Quality – YouTube allows you to stream content in 1080p, and once the stream is over, post the video directly on their site in as high as 4K resolution. This eliminates the need to purchase storage.
Security – YouTube does not offer any advanced security beyond the ability of setting your streams to private. This would prevent unwanted people from accidentally stumbling upon your livestream, but it doesn’t prevent someone with the link from sharing it with others.
Cost – YouTube Live is free, however users need to have at least 1000 subscribers to use this service. And for many people and organizations, this is a problem that can’t be solved overnight.
IBM Video Streaming
User-friendliness – IBM Video Streaming offers 24/7 chat and phone support for all their packages. You have the option of building your own channel, or allowing an expert to walk you through the process.
Functionality – Much like Vimeo and Dacast, IBM Video Streaming livestreams can be integrated with social media and embedded on your website. All videos are set to private by default but can be opened to the public at your discretion. IBM also offers you access to multiple content delivery networks (CDNs) for improved global reach.
Product Features – Features include live chat, user upvoting, Q&A modules, a built-in user management system, access to livestream analytics, and the ability to fully customize your channel page. Like YouTube, your channel page will hold previous broadcasts, and will also give you the ability to promote future ones.
Video Quality – IBM Video Streaming offers unlimited livestreaming from a smartphone or an external camera, but unlike the previous three options, videos can only be streamed at 720p resolution. IBM offers resolution up to 4K in their customizable package.
Security – A big selling point for IBM Video Streaming is their superior security. They offer customizable solutions that can be developed and implemented by their tech experts. If this is the most important livestreaming metric for you, take a look at their security packages for more details.
Cost – IBM Video Streaming offers four packages: Silver at $129/month, Gold at $650/month, Platinum at $1300/month and a custom package for high volume needs and additional features.
Live streaming is here to stay, and it’s aggressively bridging the gap between in-person events and virtual events. It’s the very tool that enables hybrid events to exist. But to reap the benefits, we first have to understand how it works. Here at FCCF, we can make your hybrid-event dreams a reality, but it all starts with the right application. We hope this article serves as a useful starting point. Don’t hesitate to contact us.