Best Live Streaming Services

1. Introduction

According to Red Bee Media’s 2018 discovery research, 67% of viewers watch a live sports event on a second screen and live streaming on social media, while 47% engage on social media about TV shows. People below the age of 35 constitute the majority of viewers for mobile video, which is 58%, while they also make up the majority of live and on-demand TV viewing on services like Hulu and Netflix, which is 62%. Viewers in Asia show the most interest in online live events, and the percentage of increase in viewership is higher than other regions, as shown in this 2018 Global Consumer Streaming Habits Survey. This depicts the importance of streaming media becoming greater, and it will continue to do so in the upcoming years.

Live streaming is the technology bringing a huge improvement in our day to day life. Live streaming services enhance the experience of viewing for different types of events. It enables individuals to communicate their experiences around the globe. Live streaming services have been employed in different areas such as real-time internet, marketing, broadcast, education, and remote surgery. Major improvements have been made in the field of live streaming and the demand for the technology continues to grow. Mobile video has proven to be a disruptive technology in the area of internet and TV. Over-the-top subscription services are currently disrupting traditional television and TV advertising. Live events continue to embrace the immediacy and authenticity of live social video, incorporating the technology into marketing and extending the reach around the globe.

1.1. Definition of live streaming service

Another case is when we want to learn from an expert in a particular field, such as coding. We can directly type what we want to know in a search engine and click on one site that provides a tutorial video about it. We understand the content, but when the video finishes and we do the practicum, the coding has an error. The tutor may not be there, and we must search for the same question again. Tutorial videos aren’t like television broadcasts that always repeat. But it can be solved by downloading the video first and then opening it. With live streaming services, the tutor can do live coding, and when we find an error in our practice, we can directly ask the tutor. The tutor can explain the solution to the problem step by step. Because it’s live, we can also have a discussion with other participants. This is more efficient and effective than using offline video and can save time searching for the same problem on Google.

Live streaming services are a primary offering and platform for real-time or on-demand online video streaming. The target is to captivate the attention of internet users and boost user participation. After clicking on a broadcasted video, the user can easily understand the information by watching and listening and does not need to download the video file. Traditional or uploaded video has a problem: a user must download the whole file to understand the content. This is a waste of time and increases the size of the video file, decreasing the video quality. Live streaming services provide a solution to this problem by offering a system of video broadcasting that can be heard and seen directly by the audience, and making real-time conversation via chat or video conference.

1.2. Importance of live streaming services

Organizations like InXpo are spending over $600,000 every year on the innovation that permits live streaming occasions. This shows the significance in live spilling occasions and has a higher potential in cash making for organizations giving a more definite alternative to their clients boosting deals. Showing a more definite choice for items could help convince customers as clarified at the start. Definitely live spilling gives a much captivating and itemized choice for individuals to construct and offer thoughts be it for their own particular or business use.

Facebook and Instagram are valuable informal communities for individuals to transfer their every day exercises or events. It can give a transient ways to deal with advise others about what’s going on. Yet, it is difficult to give a full point by point thought or explanation over it. Live video gushing could give a superior answer for it as it allows the streamer to clarify or show it unmistakably and in point by point way. This should be the thing that most individuals are searching for when needing to share about their exercises.

As of late, a study by Nielsen, a main worldwide data and exploration organization which have directed over 2500 online meetings found that right around 33% of customers were either to some degree or keen on the capacity to stream live TV on their PCs, cell phones, or tablets. Live video gushing alludes to communicate over the web video cuts of occasions as they happen as opposed to sparing and conveying it on.

2. Factors to Consider when Choosing a Live Streaming Service

At least 25 frames per second (fps) are required for viewers to perceive smooth motion, while the preferred frame rate for TV is 29.97 fps. Codecs can affect the video in different ways. H.264 is the mostly widely used video codec and is supported by most streaming platforms and works at all video resolutions. Audio quality is based on bit rate and codecs. For speech, a bit rate of 32-64 kbps and MPEG-4 is a reasonable standard, whereas music would ideally use a bit rate of 128-192 kbps and AAC. High-quality video and audio, such as sports events, music concerts, and online seminars, will require a service with support for high bit rates, HD resolutions, and high-quality audio, whereas video messages, vodcasts, and low-budget live streams can use a less demanding service.

The quality of streaming services fluctuates greatly, and partly this is all based on the nature of the video and its intended audience. The varying factors are the bit rate, frame rate, resolution, and the codecs used, which all contribute to the quality of the video. Generally, bit rates will determine the quality of the video and its stability. At lower bit rates, video can become unstable, pixilated, and jerky. A high bit rate is required for high motion, detailed videos such as live events and sports. The more bits/data consumed generally means higher quality. Therefore, the video’s resolution is the biggest factor in determining how many bits will be required. Nowadays, videos at 240p use a bit rate of 250-500 kbps, 360p uses 300-800 kbps, 480p uses 500-2000 kbps, and 720p uses 1000-3000 kbps.

2.1. Quality of video and audio

Most providers (especially the professional ones) will tend to lump the video and audio quality together, but you should always consider them separately. For example, a company might be known for its high quality, reliable, and scalable video streaming, but have below par audio quality. On the other hand, a music festival might only be interested in streaming their live performance and have great audio, but don’t want to put as much investment into the video side. Look for providers who offer a high level of customization for the quality of audio and video on a per content basis. This will typically involve an easy-to-use tool to set the bitrate/quality of live vs on-demand video, and options for the audio such as mono/stereo and different bitrates such as AAC bitrate between 48 and 320 kbps. Most providers will offer a free trial, and this part of the evaluation is well-suited to a trial as you can identify the true quality of the audio and video without risking any expenditure. If possible, try and get hold of a sample of content that uses a similar setup to what you intend to use yourself. If you go with a vendor that’s hosting online events for you, the attendees will also pay attention to the video and audio, so hosting an event with poor quality A/V could do more damage than good.

2.2. Compatibility with different devices

Compatibility with different devices: The person who intended to live stream often has varied gadgets and different brands to be used. Hence, the best live streaming service should accommodate and be able to run on any devices available. Whether it is a PC, smartphone, or tablet; Android, iOS or Windows, the streaming service is expected to run seamlessly without any compatibility issue. Any followers the streamer has also use different devices to watch the stream. The ability to provide high quality video and audio for viewer’s device is also a plus point. On this regard, UStream offers the best compatibility with devices and high-quality video service. Another option is to stream on Facebook due to its popularity and anyone using any kind of devices can easily watch the stream from their Facebook app.

2.3. Cost and pricing options

Unlike the quality of video and audio, or how well the service will stream to different devices, pricing can be a little more straightforward. The most popular way that live streaming services will charge is a flat fee, like the type of model used by Ustream. I’ve seen there are case $10, $50 and $100 flat fees and these get you varying levels of bandwidth to use on the service, but the beauty is there are no restrictions on the stream with regards to ads or limitations. Another popular pricing model is the one used by, which is a free service for the user where the company picks up the costs. In this case, there can be ads shown on your stream or some features will be restricted and you will be encouraged to move to a more premium priced model along the way. Usually these types of services will also offer a premium paid-for model where all restrictions are lifted.

2.4. Customization and branding features

For businesses, having the ability to tailor the video player to create more effective calls to action or increase user engagement can be very important so it’s a good idea to have a clear idea of what kind of custom branding you want to be able to do and which services would best facilitate that. Note that some features may require a higher level of subscription with the service. High level customization features ultimately allow for a more professional presentation of your content and can be the deciding factor in whether a viewer will become a customer or not. Customization features should be heavily compared and tested between different services as there can be a large variance in what they offer. This may be a potentially very valuable investment so long as the live streaming production itself is of a high standard.

Customization and branding features are also an important factor to consider when choosing live streaming services, especially for businesses and young entrepreneurs. Some services either do not support any form of customization, or it’s only very limited (like changing the color of the player to match your site). Typical customization features include the ability to use your own logo, overlay text onto the video, and mirroring the look and feel of the video player on your own site. A step beyond this is being able to customize the layout and design of the video player itself. This can be a very useful feature if you’re trying to maintain a coherent look across your site, or you’re trying to create a specific type of user experience.

3. Comparison of Top Live Streaming Services

3.2. Service B This product is quite unique. It allows you to schedule live broadcasts as well as broadcasting 24/7 live channels. This can be useful if you intend to have a continuous stream of live broadcasting. A good example of this type of usage could be an event. The event will take place on certain set dates; however, you may wish to have behind-the-scenes footage or interviews prior to the event. With Service B, you are able to do this by scheduling the broadcasts. Service B also offers a lot of functionality for the viewer. Viewers can pause and rewind live broadcasts. They can also view a program guide for scheduled broadcasts, select it, and view information about the show.

3.1. Service A Service A is a very basic live streaming product which offers the facility to stream live video straight to your own site, but it does take up a lot of bandwidth. PowerPoint slides can also be broadcast alongside the live video. This is done through the use of PPtLive, which is a third-party application. This doesn’t particularly make it a unique product since this is commonplace for many web conferencing applications.

3. Comparison of top live streaming services It’s difficult to compare live streaming products due to the fact that they offer a variety of features and functionalities. However, we will attempt to narrow down the comparison of the competing products to provide a fair comparison.

3.1. Service A

Service A operates using their own developed video player that is only supported on Chrome and has had many compatibility issues with other browsers in the past. The player has undergone primary and secondary research by the company but has left them at a break-even point, so they are choosing not to alter the current version. This is a pet peeve of the company as they know it limits a large portion of their viewership, so it is highly probable that there will be changes in the near future.

Unfortunately, the company has been struggling to keep up with the running costs of their platform and only last month had to take emergency bridge financing and lay off a large portion of their workforce. This spells uncertainty for the service but also opportunity. The company’s partners and sponsors will be looking to help them rebound back into good health, and there will be more incentive for the company to secure new business and regain lost lifetime customers.

Service A is the brainchild of a Swedish start-up that went through a period of hyper-growth after going live in 2011. The company took on investment and built out the service in 2013, which steadily grew a user base of over tens of millions of users. The company is primarily known for a particularly popular eSports (electronic sports) event platform that streams live events and competitions. This service has been endorsed by notable eSports organizations, teams, and players (such as the world’s largest eSports organization, ESL). The service has also made a big impact with music broadcasters, which is highly relevant to the DJs and producers using Chew.

3.2. Service B

One unique feature of Ustream is that for the paid packages, they offer a free hardware streaming device called Ustream Broadcaster. This device can be connected to a video source and internet and allows the user to broadcast live video without the need of a computer. This is a useful tool for those looking to broadcast events, news, or if constant live video is needed.

Ustream offers a wide range of services including a free account and premium accounts. With a free account, the user is given 10GB of storage and the ability to broadcast to an unlimited number of people. However, there is a Ustream logo embedded in the video and advertisements must be shown. With premium packages, the logo can be removed, advertisements do not have to be shown, and video can be stored in higher quality. Premium packages range from $99 to $999 per month.

Service B is known by most as Ustream. Ustream is a relatively easy service to use for live video streaming. It offers a range of services designed for everyone from the personal user to the professional user. The company was started in 2007 and has grown to become one of the top live streaming services available on the internet.

3.3. Service C

The owner of Service C, to protect his job, will go unnamed. Service C is quite similar to Service A and Service B but with less notoriety. The owner did not wish for his service to be placed on blast, as he stated that it is not ready to handle heavy traffic without extra financial backing to upgrade the server capacity. This comes as unfortunate news to many hopeful broadcasters, as Service C is incredibly easy to use and is a very attractive option aside from the capacity issue. The chat is not flashy but it gets the job done, and there is great potential for an awesome chat feature here. The user has the ability to set their stream quality anywhere from 100kbps to 2mbps, or they can just let the system detect and use recommended settings. This is a feature that is not seen too often, and can be useful to some casters using high speed connections. Coming back to the notoriety issue, it’s very hard these days to get a foot in the door with many other services available. When I asked the owner what really sets Service C apart from the competition, his answer was simply “we try harder”. Although the response may seem like nothing special, a company with employees all dedicated to improving the service is definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual customer support from larger companies nowadays.

3.4. Service D

One of the service’s greatest strengths is their peerless customer service. The team at Service D offers an instant messaging feature, promising to answer all questions within five minutes. For those that have more complex queries, there is also the option to open a support ticket directly from the dashboard, which promises a 24-hour response time. This is particularly useful when setting up an account or making changes to your channel, avoiding potential downtime. Live customer support is available worldwide at various times to cater to an international audience, and they also have a staff presence on the Service D subreddit. This level of service is something that is highly sought after with other live streaming services and, in some cases, has resulted in content producers ceasing to change providers due to a feeling of being undervalued as a customer. This devotion to personalized service has even been seen at events, where staff have been available to talk in person with attendees. This level of customer service is something that really piques interest and shows the willingness to help the customer, which is what every customer aims to achieve when something isn’t quite understood.

3.5. Service E

For the user who is comfortable with basic software, is the right solution. They offer both free and paid solutions targeting broadcasters from the individual to the enterprise. It is noteworthy that they have dropped the ad-supported free version which was oft maligned for its ungainly design and aggressive positioning. The paid versions are light on features compared to the competition but make up for it in simplicity and reliability. Configuration is a cinch with no need to delve into technical settings, just log in and start streaming. Their usage of a customized version of the open-source video player JW Player provides a familiar and easy-to-navigate interface. On the customer support side, we have had mixed experiences ranging from helpful and responsive to leaving us feeling like we were talking to a wall. Overall, our experiences with Ustream have been positive and we would recommend it to users looking for a dependable and fuss-free streaming solution.

4. Conclusion

Throughout the research, it was quite easy to rule out some of the other streaming service providers. is great for amateur broadcasting but does not meet the needs of a professional. Blogtv has a very low-quality stream and a rather unstable platform. Eyejot and Vokle were very interesting but appear to be in beta and therefore not a feasible solution at this time. Overall results have pointed towards the three services mentioned, and it would be wise to make an account with all three and compare based on individual project needs.

Ustream offers a very professional layout and it appears to be very stable. There is very little to no negative feedback regarding Ustream on the web. Livestream is known for its quality and probably the best feature they have is that they are one of the very few streaming services that offer mobile streaming. Stickam offers the best user interaction with a great community and social networking feel. They offer the best free service but will not meet the high demands of a professional broadcaster due to the advertising they place on the video itself.

Covering the best live streaming services has been an informative and enlightening venture for this paper. The research conducted revealed plenty of information regarding these wonderful service providers. The top three, Ustream, Livestream, and Stickam provide excellent services beginning with free access and then offering premium value-added services for a competitive price. Based on the specific needs of your individual project, it would be wise to look further into any of these three.

4.1. Summary of the best live streaming services

The main content focus of this paper is to conduct a live streaming technology comparison with an aim to identify the best method for live streaming events. Based on various requirements believed adequate to stream an event, six live streaming services were chosen to be tested. These were Google+ Hangouts On Air, Livestream, Ustream, Stream Monkey, Stream UK, and Wowza Media Server with Haivision KuluByte. A high-level comparison for these services was conducted to establish a simple understanding of the best candidate for live streaming. Following this testing, was conducted for the three services believed most promising, these are Google+ Hangouts on Air, Ustream, and Wowza Media Server with Haivision KuluByte. During testing, both quantitative and qualitative forms of data were captured. An analytical scorecard was used to gather a comparison with real ratings out of 10. This would be valuable for easy comparison and identification of what features and requirements were met. Data collected can be found in the appendix at a point (to be) determined. A great emphasis was placed on the quality of the stream as this was a main desire for statically displaying a professional presentation. This led to some interesting findings where perhaps some services were not square with the quality of the stream desired.

This paper has aimed to study live streaming as a viable option for users to share and broadcast live events, such as conferences and presentations. Initially, the paper reveals some interesting findings regarding the preferred method of communication tool being used and the overall migration to live streaming. We then go on to discuss the various requirements needed for live streaming and analyzing the hardware options available to potential users. This would enable a clear understanding of what is needed and the costs involved to statically display a clear and professional presentation. The paper also briefly introduces a comparison to some related technologies that have a foreseeable future. These would help provide alternatives to live streaming, how they differentiate and effective they can be.

4.2. Final considerations and recommendations

In order to transmit a live streaming event, it is necessary to subscribe to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) who will preferably provide an 80/256 kbps service. It also is highly recommended for best quality to purchase your own streaming server. The features and prices of services offering real-time and archived video and audio hosting are widespread and constantly changing. Although some are more reliable and provide better quality than others. For the purpose of this review, four well-known companies were reviewed and compared based on their features and prices. If an event is worth viewing, it is best to choose a more expensive service. Unfortunately, during our test, we have found that the more cost-effective the service, the greater amount of mismanagement and loss in video and audio quality. If the server is to be used for archiving data, it is recommended to sign up for a 3-month webcast event with Real Broadcast Network and store the data on a Windows Media file. All in all, webcasting is an efficient tool to globally broadcast an event, whether it be a personal family event or a business conference. The decisions for a service depend on anticipated usage and the relevance of video and audio quality.