According to Conviva's 2018 State of the Streaming TV industry report, the viewing hours of live video content rose from 65% between 2017 and 2018. With that percentage increasing each year, and more rapidly because of the dreaded COVID-19. Two of the largest countries in the world, The USA and China; have seen immense increases in the number of people using live video solutions as a means of delivering content.
Selecting the best live streaming platform from a range of the top live video solutions must involve a cautious analysis. This research must also stem from a meticulous contrast of the top live video solutions.
We have prepared this guide to help you choose which is the best live streaming platform for you. It is significantly vital these days, for organizations to implement the use of the best live streaming platform. This system can allow them to carry out live streaming implementations for training, learning, sending out important notifications, monitoring security, etc. While also having some of the principle features mentioned below.
But first, let's start with a simple question - to define our scope.
What is a Live Video Streaming Platform?
Live streaming is when you create and share videos with your audience to watch in real-time. A live video streaming platform has the complete infrastructure to allow you to deliver videos in real-time from a recording device to a player at the user's end.
Cloudfare defines it as a video that is sent over the internet in real-time, without being recorded or stored first. Though, this definition may not reflect its true form, as modern live-streaming platforms also record these videos and make them available as on-demand videos for later viewing.
In essence, live streaming is the process of delivering video in real-time. But unlike video conferencing, in live streaming, the communication takes place one way.
Learn more about live video streaming solutions in our blog on video streaming.
Or read our blog on what live streaming is, how it works and the process behind it.
What Features You Should Consider When Choosing a Live Streaming Platform?
To ease the process of comparing various live streaming platforms, we have listed down features that are integral to modern platforms and must be compared across systems.
Ease of Use
Determinedly it is undesirable to employ a system that is difficult to navigate through and use. One of the most important features to consider when choosing a live video streaming platform is that it must have an easy and adaptable user interface. So that even a newly inducted user, can orchestrate the capabilities he or she needs.
It is possible that your viewers don't have an optimal internet connection and a broadcasted live stream may be received with buffering and latency. It is important for your live streaming platform to have videos transcoded into multiple formats for viewers should be able to select the best compatible bitrate and resolution levels of the video. If the platform supports adaptive bitrate streaming, then the platform would automatically select this.
Security is also incredibly important, when selecting which platform you select, to broadcast your company’s information via video. It is possible, for your company’s live streams to be easily accessed by restricted parties and downloaded by them too.
However, if your live streaming platform has sufficient security measures included, it can be difficult for restricted parties to access the data of live video content produced by your organization. Security comes in the form of, who is allowed to access your live-streamed video content. Efficient live video streaming platforms are end-to-end encrypted, and you can either decide who gets to view your data; by sending the link of the broadcast, defining access within the system or by providing viewers with a password and username for protected access.
It is entirely possible, for your company or organization to increase the number of people it wants in the live stream. For that reason, it is important for your live video streaming platform to be scalable; in the sense that there are no problems sharing live videos as the number of viewers increase. These live video streaming platforms must have servers and transmitters in multiple places of the world, for them to successfully provide viewers with uninterrupted transmissions of your organization's broadcasts of the live video.
"Stream to 10s or 1000s, Your Platform Should Be Able to Do it All"
Another vital capability needed from a live video solution is the ability to earn monetary benefits from the video being streamed. Many live video solutions give you opportunities to integrate with a paywall or add advertisements before, in the middle of, and after streaming live videos.
Should Include Interactivity
Being able to create engaging and captivating content should be possible with live video solutions as well. To create interactive content, you must be able to include Q&A windows, live chat options, notifications, add surveys, etc., as the live stream proceeds.
Built from the Latest Technology
It might also help if the live video streaming platform chosen to relay information in real-time is akin to the latest technologies in the world. It should not be hard for admins to integrate new types of technologies into the live video solution they employ. More importantly, it should be compatible with all devices and streaming servers. An important thing to look at here is a live streaming platform that uses HTTP (HLS) protocol for video streaming as this is supported by most infrastructure and devices.
Should be Compatible with Any Device
It should also be possible to watch the video content you put up, on any electronic device that has the ability to watch videos on. The live video-streaming platform chosen should be able to deliver video in different formats too; so that it is never a problem for the viewer to run it on their devices.
The 8 Best Live Streaming Platforms of 2021
Based on the criteria mentioned previously, we have compiled a list of the best 8 live streaming platforms.
VIDIZMO offers a Gartner-recognized enterprise video platform, with live streaming capabilities. This means that organizations can use the same platform for more than just live streaming.
Within live streaming itself, the platform offers a breadth of options, as well as the ability to stream securely inside an organization or stream to large audiences publicly.
- You can set access permissions to ensure that the stream does not get watched by restricted parties. You can set access to specific individuals, groups, entire departments, the entire organization, or the public. The identity of users within the organization is synced with your SSO through integrations and SCIM.
- VIDIZMO utilizes leading technologies such as the compatible HLS protocol, adaptive bitrate streaming, transcoding, CDNs, and eCDNs to ensure smooth playback on all devices under all bandwidth conditions.
- Live streaming support for online meetings on Zoom, CIsco Webex, etc. through RTMP.
- It offers live chat, Q&A, and interactive elements such as quizzes, handouts, and surveys.
- You can set up backup live streams, for your users to switch to if the main live stream fails by any chance.
- Supports live streaming from drones and CCTV cameras.
- Live streams can be recorded and made available as on-demand videos within the same platform.
- All live streams are end-to-end encrypted with FIPS 140-2 standards.
- Offers scalable live streaming.
- Offers low latency live streaming.
- Provides live streaming, both on cloud and on-premise.
- Does not offer monetization features by default, and to enable monetization, you need to integrate with 3rd party tools.
With immense market penetration, YouTube has become one of the most popular video streaming platforms in the entire world. Being the second most visited website globally, it allows your live stream to reach a large audience. This makes it highly suitable for public broadcasts; eg., for corporate communications or marketing.
With all the significantly positive qualities mentioned below, YouTube also comes with drawbacks of latency issues, privacy issues, limited analytics features, compliance issues, limited scalability, and limited live streaming time.
- It is free to use.
- Monetizing YouTube live streaming is also possible by allowing ads to be run on the live streams.
- If your video is featured on YouTube live, it can be recommended to viewers if YouTube’s algorithm deems it worthy of their interests. This increases the possibility of amassing a larger audience.
- Live streams can be recorded and made available as an on-demand video for your audiences.
- Has latency issues which may cause live streaming to progress very steadily.
- It can be viewed by anyone out there and there are third-party websites which allow viewers to download your content. This means your content files can exist in someone else’s database.
- It only supports basic video analytics such as the number of views, direct engagement, etc.
- According to YouTube terms and conditions, when uploading content on their site; you are giving them rights to essentially distribute and make countless copies of your content too.
- Compliance with laws of governmental organizations proves to be difficult, such as YouTube videos not being obedient to Europe’s GDPR(General Data Protection Regulation).
- Scalability is limited to small audiences.
- Backup recording is not provided, for the live video streams you produce.
- Quality is compromised on when there is an increasing number of viewers.
- Live streaming time is limited.
Vimeo is a video streaming platform, which initially marketed itself as a platform for creative professionals. As its lifecycle progressed, it came to be preferred by businesses to disseminate their videos too.
There are a few drawbacks of the platform though (listed below). With just a 2.6 rating on a 5-point scale on Trust Pilot, it is certainly expected not to get the most optimal experience from Vimeo. It does, however, have lots of public users and has proven to be one of the most popular platforms for UGC (User-Generated-Content).
Vimeo is also a simple live streaming SaaS application, with no options to choose where your data is stored and how it's handled – no cloud deployments or on-premise deployments. This may be required by large organizations.
- You can run your live streams on multiple social platforms simultaneously through SimulCast.
- You can keep your viewers engaged with the interactivity provided with live Q&A, live polls, audience chat, email capture and custom calls to action.
- You may even keep track of everything with the advanced analytics of each video you stream live.
- Grant specific viewers with specific permissions to access your organization's videos.
- As mentioned previously, there have been many bad reviews and their support is not exactly top-notch either for their live streaming functionality.
- You are forced to subscribe to the highest-paid plan if you wish to store a considerable number of videos.
- According to some reviews on TrustRadius, users might encounter slow streaming of their videos.
- Each live stream is limited to only 12 hours.
Using Kaltura at its full capability requires technical knowledge, and organizations must develop solutions to the problems they face themselves. This, however, does not mean that Kaltura offers limited out-of-the-box functionalities.
Kaltura offers scalable live streaming with enterprise-level security. It includes rich content creation tools and also supports third-party encoders for live streaming.
- The interface is straightforward to use.
- Integrates well with third-party software.
- Live streams can be distributed to many screens
- Private live streams within an organization’s admissible screens are also possible.
- Difficult admin panel navigation.
- Support services are usually delayed.
- The deployment process is very slow-going.
- If live streams fail, Kaltura’s portal cannot automatically shift to a backup of the live stream being shown.
Dacast offers the essential capabilities needed to carry out live video streams. It’s a great platform if you need to stream to large public audiences or monetize your content through integration with a paywall.
It does lack the features to securely stream videos internally and is also not the best for recording and streaming your recorded sessions as on-demand videos later. It also lacks certain live streaming features such as a live chat and the ability to set up backup streams.
Dacast is also a simple live streaming SaaS application, with no options to choose where your data is stored and how it’s handled – no cloud deployments or on-premises deployments. This may be required by large organizations.
- This system proudly provides its organizational clients, with advanced analytics to keep track of their videos.
- Embedding live streams is possible, using Dacast URLs and their exact paths with parameters.
- For monetization, you can integrate with a paywall. There are multiple features offered as well to include advertisements in your live stream.
- Low latency live streaming
- Event scheduling is not possible with the system. Neither is the usage of engagement techniques like Q&As available.
- It does not provide a live chat feature with its platform,
- it does integrate with 3rd party live chat providers. This might be a bit of a problem since this might require organizations to deal with an extra party.
- If live streams fail, Dacast too cannot automatically shift to a backup of the live stream being showed.
Brightcove offers a live streaming platform that it used mostly by media, broadcasting, arts, and entertainment. The platform offers capabilities to enable organizations to carry out live streams of videos successfully and efficiently.
Brightcove, too, doesn’t give you the option to choose where your data is stored and how it’s handled.
- Can give organizations the capability of integrating Q&A functionalities and surveys.
- The advanced analytics allow user admins to measure the effectiveness of their videos too.
- Scalability in terms of how many viewers can watch live streams is expertly offered with Brightcove's live video streaming service.
- Monetization such as paywalls before being able to access live streaming content is offered.
- This system's video platform services are very steep in terms of price too.
- The only way you can restrict access is by controlling the registration of users on the platform.
As a platform being used by educational and business organizations, it offers various high-tech features to aid you; in performing live streaming of videos too. Marketing their platform, as an extremely secure option; Panopto is used by many respected companies and institutions.
- Offers the capability for adding a live chat possibility in live video streams. With that, users can interact with the host of the video, ask them questions, and give suggestions too.
- You can assign users with specific permissions, for viewing certain content.
- You can record streams and make them available as on-demand videos.
- Modifying user access permissions is generally difficult.
- Their platform primarily focuses on supplying solutions for educational institutions, and it is more tailored towards institutions of that type.
- Few monetization features – current monetization offered through InPlayer integration
IBM Cloud Video
IBM has been one of the top tech firms of the world for most of the last century. Founded in 1911, they have been innovating for quite a while and are also proficient in the live video streaming industry. It comes as no surprise; they have managed to make an efficient live streaming video platform as well.
- With its AI (Artificial Intelligence) driven platform, you can reach audiences via embeds, open URLs or password-protected channels.
- This platform also offers live chat, which is important for viewers to actively interact with the hosts of live streams. This allows them to ask questions, give answers, give suggestions, etc.
- Polling is only a part of the paid plan.
- The paid plan only offers admins the capability of Q&As.
- The free plan lacks tools for adding interactivity.
- SSO integration is not available, leaving the system vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
- Dividing content into separate user groups is not possible. So, segregating content among a considerable number of users is not achievable.
All the various brands of the software mentioned above share the typical characteristics of the top live video solutions today. It just seems sensible to pick one out of the software's brought up above, depending on your organizational needs.
Learn more in our blog on IBM Cloud Video and its alternative.
A Complete Solution
Looking for a platform that offers more than just live streaming - video content management, video sharing, recorded meetings management, and on-demand streaming as well? VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube is a complete enterprise video platform that eliminates the need to use separate platforms for separate video use cases.
Live streaming platforms are just one type of video platform. To understand more, visit our detailed guide on video platforms.