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What is Live Streaming? How Does Live Video Streaming Work?

By Bareerah Shoukat
A video being recorded and live streamed

Live streaming a video is now getting normalized personally and professionally. Live video streaming has grown by 93% with an average viewing time of 26.4 minutes per session. This shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that Gen Z and Millennials spend more time streaming than Boomers or Gen Xers. Seeing a live video is easy but ever thought what goes behind it and how live streaming video works?

Fun fact, by 2027, the live streaming industry is expected to be valued at 184.27 billion USD. This is because live streaming videos are important for so many use cases in various industries.

However, Live Streaming is not just holding the camera and pressing the live button. There is a lot to it, which we will be discussing in this blog.

Before that, let’s head to the starters!    

What Is Live Streaming?

You have heard the word “live streaming” quite often. Ever wondered what it is? Following is the simplest definition of live streaming:

“Process of transmitting video content in real-time over the internet.”

This is done through various internet video protocols that are accommodated in powerful, dedicated video streaming technology. Live stream refers to ‘It is what it is’ mindset rather than a rehearsed monologue being presented. In regular streaming, the content is created beforehand, but not in the case of live video streaming.

Uses Of Live Video Streaming

Live video streaming is used for many use cases. At its core, live streaming technically helps people attend virtual meetings, expos, and experiences that they can’t attend physically. In business use cases, organizations use live streaming to engage with their audiences or market their brand.

The possibility of using a live stream is endless but let us mention the most highlighted one.

  • Online education
  • Virtual events or meetings
  • Marketing
  • Product demos
  • Concert streaming
  • Sports coverage
  • Webcasts

And many more ways that fit your live streaming needs! So now we got the starters away, let’s go on to the main course, the working!

How Live Streaming Video Works?

In this main course, we’ll go through how live streaming works and the components that make up the live stream. First, here’s a comprehensive overview of it.

Live Streaming Infographic 22

Video Capture

So, the first step is video capture that is the raw video data. The visual data captured from the device is represented as binary data 1s and 0s at its core.

Encoder

Next step is encoding. The raw data is large and impossible to stream over the internet. Encoding basically refers to the conversion of data into a new format. Video encoders convert these large files into an interpretable digital file. Common video encoders include

  • AV1
  • VP9
  • 264
  • 265

Live Streaming Platform

A live streaming platform comes into the mix. You can opt for any live streaming platform, and each offers a different set of features. Some offer simple features – where you can transcode and stream the video. YouTube in one such example.

Others offer advanced features such as secure live streaming, low latency etc. VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube is one such live streaming platform, which is scalable and secure. It allows you to carry out a restricted internal live stream as well. VIDIZMO supports a range of encoders such as Wirecast, OBS Studio and others to help create in a production level immersive live experience.

VIDIZMO offers the following features – others may or may not offer them:

  • Transcoding, Transizing, Transrating, and Transmuxing

Transcoding is all about the conversion of video file format from one to another. The purpose is to make video playback consistent on different platforms and devices. Media servers then transize the video into different resolutions as well as transrate by creating many bitrates for adaptive bitrate streaming. The media servers then re-package, let’s say transmux, the data into different protocols. It converts a file into another container format without altering the file content.

  • Convert to HLS

This protocol is what makes mobile streaming possible under all bandwidth conditions. With VIDIZMO, you can ingest the RTSP and RTMP and we convert it to HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). Even though RTMP encoders are easily accessible and can be converted in HLS, it is not really common to use HLS for ingesting.

  • Compress

The video is then compressed to remove redundant visual information. It roots out the repetitive or similar frames and only keeps those that are essential. The benefit of doing compression is less storage demand, smaller file size overall and lower transmission bandwidth needs.

  • Store

If you want to present the live stream as on-demand later, in VIDIZMO the recording can be stored and accessed by your audience from a YouTube-like portal to be viewed anytime from anywhere with any internet-connected device.

  • Access Management

Define access for your live streams. Who is allowed to watch and who isn’t? The system will not play the stream if any unauthorized individual accesses it. Control granular level security and access with users and groups managed through role-based access in VIDIZMO.

  • Live Closed Captioning

VIDIZMO offers real-time closed captions for your live stream. Live closed captioning improves overall content accessibility while eliminating language barriers.

CDN

The fourth step involves sending the live stream to a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Once the live stream has been transcoded, segmented, and compressed, it needs to be served to the audience. In order to maintain the highest quality with minimal latency, the content is cached and served through a CDN.

With many servers worldwide, the content is pushed to your audience from the closest server rather than the host server. The servers are known as “Internet Exchange Points” that are strategically placed around the globe. A CDN temporarily saves – cache each live stream, so most viewers get live stream through CDN, making it closer to real-time. Moreover, it cuts down the RTT (Round-Trip Time) to and from the origin server.

In an on-premise environment, this is usually called an eCDN (enterprise content delivery network), which basically servers the same purpose.

Video Player

For video playback, a media player is needed. Each user’s device receives, decodes and decompresses the data. A video player can either be on the browser, an embedded video player on a website or in a dedicated app. The data is then interpreted by the video player as visual information, and the video is played.

Final Thoughts

Live streaming is a valuable resource for many use cases. For the widespread audience on multiple platforms, the highest quality live streaming video is possible with VIDIZMO. This enterprise video content management system is private, secure and a complete solution for not only live but also on-demand videos. It provides much more control over the way you live stream and presents your videos on-demand. Want to know further?

Learn More

References

Rodriguez-Gil, L., Orduna, P., Garcia-Zubia, J., & López-de-Ipiña, D. (2018). Interactive live-streaming technologies and approaches for web-based applications. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 77(6), 6471-6502.

Tags: Live Streaming, Webcasting, Webinars

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