Live Video Streaming Companies: A Comprehensive Guide


Live stream companies

Live video streaming refers to transmitting audio and video in real time from a camera, computer, or other device to the internet. This feature differs from online video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo, in that it is live and usually not saved. In order to stream, one needs to utilize a platform and/or channel through a company which will provide the necessary tools to take your event to the web.

Live video streaming is quickly becoming the primary way in which individuals and companies engage online. Given the speed and comfort at which viewers can now watch online video, it is estimated that by 2017, 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video. In addition, resulting from the staggering increase in mobile (smartphone/tablet) use and the resulting on-the-go content consumption, mobile video views have also increased over 400%. This all contributes to the growing need for live video streaming tailored to the specific needs of an individual or company.

What is live video streaming?

Live video streaming is the technology that allows users to distribute and view video in real time over the internet. This technology allows users to watch a video from any part of the world where internet is available and it can be done without having to download the file to the user’s hard drive. In some cases, a video file may be broken into data packets and continuously downloaded and played back by the user, similar to how live video is received, but live video streaming is achieved through special programs that compress the data and send it on a continuous stream, decoding and displaying it simultaneously. The compressed data is usually sent through a web server which has the ability to process the data and send it on to end users across the internet. The process is much the same as how television and radio broadcast over the airwaves but the end user is able to access the material on computer as well as on television (with the addition of a set top box). This type of technology has the potential to dominate the way content is distributed around the globe. With more and more users gaining access to high speed internet, live video streaming has the potential to reach a wide audience. A large portion of the material that is distributed across the internet is done so in an effort to attract some kind of attention. Whether the content is created by companies in an effort to bring in more customers, or a personal website trying to attract more users. Now that high speed internet access has become the norm for most users, live video streaming can allow users to create an interesting and entertaining way to reach a large audience.

Importance of live video streaming companies

Compared to traditional marketing tools, online marketing is the most accomplished medium in today’s scenario. Unlike TV viewers, web audiences have plenty of choices to access the information they want. Online marketing efforts through video have a wider acceptance in today’s market. A trend assessment shows that the demand for video advertisements and video content from businesses as a marketing tool is far and large. With the constantly changing internet environment and the poor or limited tools of traditional video transfer, more companies are turning to video as a secure and efficient way to get their message across. This means that a number of companies are converting their communications to video. This can range from sales reports to training materials. Videos are used because they are a cost-effective yet flexible alternative to TV and because they are accessible on demand.

With the widening market of these service providers, a lot of business proprietors would have a better option than building in-house infrastructure. However, since each company has different requirements, it is essential to look for a service provider that fits one’s needs, schedule, and budget. Live streaming service providers have become an affordable method to receive a high level of online training due to the elimination of travel expenses and the ability to record sessions for further use. This can be very beneficial for small/medium-sized companies.

In today’s growing digital era, live marketing videos attract the marketers of a company as they have a higher rate of holding the attention of viewers and a high level of interaction in the form of comments. Influenced by the increasing popularity of live video content, businesses have also started to refer to video streaming platforms for their newly developed products or services to their remote offices or business partners around the globe. But building an in-house streaming platform can mean a large expense and high risk. More and more industry companies are now turning to live video streaming service providers to transmit their live events.

Choosing the Right Live Stream Companies

Upon having a clear overview of what you want, the next step is to make a list of various service providers available. There are many available, so it is important to do some research and compare the various pros and cons. You can visit an array of websites to do this. An easier way may be to visit a site that has the details of a variety of companies and lists the functions, prices, and testimonials in a comparison. A lot of information can be obtained from friends and colleagues, particularly those who have tried using the service of a particular provider.

Before making any decisions about a live video streaming service provider, it is important to be clear about what you require. To do this, you should be able to define the following factors: the target audience for your content, the location and quality of your content, and how often you want the content to be available. You must also decide how much you are willing to spend in order to get the quality service. There are lots of different providers available, ranging from free services with limited functionality to costly services that feature an abundance of features. It is advisable to clearly identify your needs and then shop around to find the most cost-effective package.

Factors to consider before selecting a provider

By asking these types of questions, one can develop a requirements list. With this list in hand, the customer can research feature by feature each service provider.

– What kind of content are we looking to create? – What is the current and/or desired video quality? – What is the projected audience size? – Is the content public or to a closed group? – How often will content be created? – How much content will be created at any one time? – How sensitive is the content to packet loss?

Before delving into feature comparisons, a potential customer should create a list of his/her streaming requirements. What this means is that there should be a clear understanding of what the provider wants to achieve with the streaming. Get support from the content providers and IT staff, and create a list of what the current infrastructure is and how it will be changed. Here are some questions to consider:

Simply put, when selecting a professional service provider in any field, one would look for affordability, reliability, and scalability. Each provider offers different features, price plans, and accompanying service level agreement. So how can one compare one provider with another and make an informed decision?

Comparison of different service providers

There are several factors that can affect an end user’s experience with the service. If the service has a global audience, it is important to make sure that the provider has sufficient network distribution to deliver content to the target regions. In some cases, it might even be necessary to use a provider that has the ability to deliver region-specific content. This means that the user is automatically directed to the closest server based on their geographic location. Other factors include white label branding, the level of platform reliability, and the customer support service.

Some companies require the service to be delivered through a streaming platform rather than integrating the service into an existing web page. Typically, the former option is less expensive and provides more features to the user. If a streaming platform is mandatory, ensure that it provides the same level of interactivity and branded customization as the website would have for a reasonable price.

Service providers differ on several key points including cost, the method the service is delivered, and the level of customer support. When considering cost, the first thing to do is compare the quoted monthly service cost between providers. The quoted cost might differ drastically from the final cost as there might be hidden bandwidth fees or costs for over the phone support. In this case, it is imperative to receive a total cost of ownership comparison between the different providers.

Evaluating the scalability and reliability of providers

Reliability: Reliability refers to the consistency of the service. One method of assessing reliability is to find out if the provider has ever experienced a severe outage and what caused it. Severe outages have a huge impact on brand perception and customer loyalty. Another factor is the consistency of service in the face of high viewer numbers. Ask the provider for some statistics on a recent live event. Compare the number of expected viewers to the actual number and ensure that the quality of the stream was not degraded at all due to the higher viewer numbers. Finally, it is important to ascertain the expected level of service for the package you are willing to purchase. A common issue with live event pricing is that the “cheap” packages provide a level of service that is below what most users would find acceptable. Always test the service using a trial or free account before committing to a higher pricing tier.

Scalability: Scalability refers to the ability of the provider to deliver your content to any number of viewers with the same level of quality. A provider with high scalability will be able to accommodate any number of viewers instead of having a cut-off point where the service starts to degrade. To test a provider’s scalability, arrange for a trial streaming at the maximum bit rate you will require. At the same time, conduct a stream with a number of viewers equal to the expected maximum for your live event. The quality of the stream and its delivery to the end viewers should be consistent across both tests.

Understanding the technical support and customization options

Understand that the technical support and the ability to customize your live stream are important factors to consider. While streaming live events, you need to be sure that you have a team ready to support you in case of any technical issues. Also, you would want to be able to customize your live stream to make it best fit your needs. Usually, free CDN services do not offer technical support, leaving you with a self-help guide that may be hard to understand. Often times the best technical support comes from the more expensive streaming providers, although other streaming providers have good support. To test the level of support team, you can send an email asking a question on their services. This way you can measure the amount of time it takes for them to respond to you and the quality of the response. Often times there are an array of ways you can customize your streaming video to better suit your needs. An example of this is the ability to stream on a 3rd party player, instead of the one provided by your streaming provider. This can be very useful if you already have a player embedded on your site and you do not want to go through the trouble of re-embedding a new one. For simpler needs, you may just want to customize the look and the feel of the player on your site. This can be as simple as changing the colors of the player to better match the theme of your site. On the back end, some customization can be done to increase the security of your stream. This is often done through enabling some sort of user authentication. Last but not least, changing the bit rate and the resolution of your stream can greatly affect the quality of the video. By customizing it to best suit your viewers, you can provide them with the best viewing experience.

Benefits and Challenges of Live Video Streaming

The benefits of live streaming stem from the fact that it is “live”. It allows you to communicate directly with your customers. You can use live video to interact with people in real time. Have you ever done a webinar? Well, a live video stream is like a webinar taken up an extra few notches. You can use it to demonstrate a new product, to offer a “sneak peek” at something that’s coming soon, or to just meet and greet with your audience. Many businesses have used live video to interact with customers who have purchased their products. Instead of using a chat client to talk with them, they’ve used webcams. You can also use live streaming as a paid employee training tool. Let’s say your company has employees in several different locations. You can use a live stream to communicate a company-wide message. Or maybe you have a new employee who needs some training. You can set up a private live stream and provide an interactive training session. This way, the trainee will have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. This would only be a simple solution to a problem that can be solved using this software to do so in an affordable manner.

Benefits of live video streaming for businesses

The main reason businesses are getting into live video streaming is because they are realizing the power it has to engage, interact, and communicate with their audience. Only a few years ago, it was a struggle for businesses to build a platform to communicate with their customers. But now, the advancements in online video have enabled businesses to do just this, all at the click of a button. A survey by showed that 78% of marketers are seeing that their content is becoming more effective due to video content. It details the growing power in online video, the effectiveness of content, and with effective content being a measure of success for most businesses, online video seems to be the way to go. Live streaming goes a step further, offering content that is automatically saved onto the online platform, unlike live TV, and can therefore be reused again at a later date. An informative tone is struck in the guide by Vectric to video streaming for small businesses when they state, “an internet show is a great way to develop a conversation with your customers. By running a show, you have a regular reason to message your customers and it’s much easier to get them to watch a 5-10 minute video than to read the same information in an email or on your website.” This highlights yet another advantage of live video, the ability to make it easier for the viewer to want to watch what you have to offer. Live video also has the ability to reach a potentially new and larger audience for businesses. This is because they can do this through interacting with the viewers and involving their wants and needs to shape the content of the video. An example of this might be a gaming company running a live stream where they play their newest game with a select group of customers, allowing them and the viewers to get an idea of what they can expect from their gaming experience. All while they will be directly answering the questions and queries from the customers in the chat. An easier to understand and communicate method compared to producing and distributing masses of surveys for feedback.

Challenges and potential solutions for live streaming

Live video streaming presents some real challenges for businesses. Many companies have already gone down the YouTube route, embracing their free player and hosting services. Given the perceived saving on custom player development, YouTube alone is a cost effective solution for simple webcasting. Endemol recently gave away their premium Flash RTMP player in favor of using YouTube to provide global reach for Big Brother. But if your online video strategy really is about the ever increasing consumption of on demand content, you probably won’t want users to leave your site and watch a branded video on a competitor’s channel. YouTube, Facebook and their friends simply become high latency DVRs for all video they index. A mechanism for users to pause, stop, rewind and change channel is simply no longer TV’s oldest competitor, it is now actually television itself. High latency is one major challenge in pushing towards a synchronized content channels. This could be sports, where an online player needs to replicate a TV viewing experience including instant DVR like replays, or social TV, where users are sharing secondary screen experiences around linear TV events. YouTube can be over 30 seconds behind a live stream in delivering content and employs no special approach to time synchronization of live content. This is inherent in their segmented recording and indexed data model. High latency DVR functionality is actually possible using RTMP and HTTP dynamic streaming. YouTube themselves are getting closer to this with their recent introduction of live event capabilities. But YouTube remains YouTube. Low cost real time live event transcoding and delivery wouldn’t be part of their package any time soon. So even if point clouding technology is now allowing you to turn a 3D animated movie render into a live action movie, YouTube still isn’t the best place for Warner Bros to live stream the premiere, though the Batman trilogy’s live event would probably be quite demanding and costly to get right.

Live video streaming is not without its challenges. As professionals in the bandwidth and streaming media technologies, we have experienced many of the issues detailed below. We have also often found ourselves designing or re-architecting solutions to overcome these issues. Finally, these lessons have taught us to be practical and perhaps slightly conservative when directly applying some bleeding edge technologies. This certainly shapes the advice we would give to anyone stepping up to the plate to deliver a business or mission critical live event.