Tools for Broadcasting Live Video Online

Easily broadcast live video to people online all over the world

You may already have some experience editing and uploading videos to YouTube, Instagram, or other popular video sites out there, but have you ever broadcast yourself or an event for an audience to watch live? Like, in real time?

Thanks to the popular live video broadcast tools available today, you don't necessarily need any fancy equipment as long as you have a working camera and microphone built in to your computer or smartphone or connected as separate devices.

The following popular tools are used by individuals, business owners, and event holders who want to broadcast live video over the internet to their audiences.

Facebook Live

Screenshot of Facebook Live on an iPhone

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What We Like

  • Vast potential audience.

  • Notifies followers before a live event begins.

  • Supports mobile and desktop streaming.

What We Don't Like

  • No monetization options.

  • Streams at only 720p.

  • Facebook removes inappropriate content.

With Facebook Live, anyone with a profile or page can reach a live audience on iOS and Android devices and via Facebook Mentions. While a broadcaster is live, the video appears in the News Feed and on the broadcaster's profile or page with a "live" indicator. When the stream ends, the video is still viewable for people who missed the live broadcast. The creator can leave it up or take it down at any time. A Facebook Live session can last up to four hours.

IBM Cloud Video (formerly Ustream)

Screenshot of the IBM Cloud Video website

What We Like

  • Rock-solid live video streams.

  • Easy setup.

  • Accommodates an unexpectedly large viewership.

What We Don't Like

  • Relatively expensive.

  • No way to rewind during a live broadcast.

  • No built-in monetization.

IBM acquired Ustream in 2016 and transitioned its broadcasters to the new IBM Cloud Video service. The IBM Cloud Video Streaming Manager—the equivalent of Ustream Pro Broadcasting—is a cloud-based platform for the delivery of live video and on-demand content. Primarily a business-oriented service, IBM Cloud Video is designed for large audiences for event streaming or marketing launches. 

IBM offers a 30-day free trial of the Pro Plan, which accommodates 100 to 5,000 viewer hours, 720p broadcasting, ad-free broadcasting, channel password protection, and customization.

The Enterprise plan is customized for your business. It has all the same features as the Pro Plan, plus 1TB video storage, 1080p broadcasting, dedicated event support, multiple bitrate streaming, live analytics, multi-device compatibility, and much more. 

Instagram Live Video

Screenshot of Instagram Live Video on an iPhone

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What We Like

  • Sends notifications to followers when live video begins.

  • Built-in network of followers.

  • Instagram filters for video.

  • Opt-in or opt-out of comments during the live video.

What We Don't Like

  • Video is available for only 24 hours unless you share a replay.

  • Length limit of one hour.

  • No way to add text to video.

  • Limited analytics.

People with established Instagram accounts can share a live video with their followers in real time. When the broadcast is over, it's no longer viewable on Instagram.

The Instagram live video interface displays the number of viewers and comments. The broadcaster can respond to comments or turn them off altogether.

Live video generates a colored ring around the broadcaster's profile picture that appears at the top of followers' feeds. The broadcast is viewable only by an approved follower for private accounts. For public accounts, anyone on Instagram can view the live video.

YouTube Live

Screenshot of YouTube Live on an iPhone

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What We Like

  • Continuous streaming for up to 36 hours.

  • Streams in 4K.

  • Dashboard shows viewers in real time.

  • Allows ads in livestreams for large accounts.

What We Don't Like

  • YouTube must verify your account before livestreaming.

  • No desktop streaming app.

  • YouTube claims access to your content for its advertising.

Even though YouTube is known for providing all types of pre-produced videos, it also offers a broadcasting feature for live video. You can access it by selecting "Live events" under your account's video manager. After you verify your account and enable live streaming, you can set up your webcam and engage with your audience in real time as they watch your broadcast.

YouTube also provides professional controls for your broadcast and it allows you to monetize your videos with ads. 

Vimeo Live (formerly Livestream)

Screenshot of Livestream on an iPhone

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What We Like

  • Pro-level streaming from any mobile device.

  • Monetization of live videos.

  • Cross-platform analytics.

  • Integrates easily with social media sites.

What We Don't Like

  • More expensive than the competition.

  • Editing features for saved video are basic and clunky.

Vimeo Live is a robust service for people and businesses that are serious about their live broadcasts. It powers 10 million events annually. The service is high quality and easy-to-use. The company promises fast and outstanding customer service. 

Vimeo Live offers a suite of four packages:

  • Two basic accounts for hosting only.
  • A business hosting account for organizations and small companies.
  • A premium account for unlimited live streaming.

Vimeo Live also offers a free account with limited features so you can try it out.

Periscope

Screenshot of Periscope on an iPhone

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What We Like

  • Simple to set up.

  • Good for impromptu live videos.

  • No time limit on live videos.

What We Don't Like

  • Substandard user experience.

  • Poor audio.

  • Videos are deleted after 24 hours.

Twitter uses Periscope for live broadcasts on the social media site. Comparable to Facebook's Live video, it enables Twitter broadcasters to stream live video using Android and iOS devices.

The live video can go anywhere on Twitter a tweet can go. Your live videos are automatically saved as tweets, and you have the option of saving them to your device when the live stream ends. It's also searchable in Periscope. You can delete any of your posted videos at any time.

Twitch

Screenshot of the Twitch iPhone app

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What We Like

  • Impressive interactive platform for gaming enthusiasts.

  • Easy to set up.

  • Content from professionals and hobbyists.

What We Don't Like

  • Basic account is ad supported.

  • Chat doesn't work well with large audiences.

  • No pause or rewind on live videos.

Twitch is a platform mainly used by video gaming enthusiasts who enjoy live-broadcasting their gameplay. If gaming is your thing, then Twitch is where you want to be. If you want to broadcast something unrelated to gaming, you should choose a different option.

A Twitch Prime membership is included with Amazon Prime.

Bambuser

Screenshot of the Iris by Bambuser iPhone app

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What We Like

  • High-definition video.

  • Handy editing tools for recorded video.

  • Integrates well with social media sites.

What We Don't Like

  • Cluttered interface.

  • Learning curve.

  • No audio level indicators or low battery warning.

Bambuser (formerly Iris by Banbuser) focuses on making its mobile video sharing easy to use. Its technology makes ultra-low latency live video capabilities possible and facilitates the distribution of HD mobile live video. The site is well positioned to meet the mobile live video stream needs of individuals and businesses alike. 

The Bambuser app is available on Android and iOS devices. The service is also accessible through webcams and cameras connected to computers. After your live broadcast, the stream is saved to your account, where other people can watch it.

Bambuser is available as a free 14-day trial. There are three tiered paid packages suitable for private individuals and for businesses: Starter, Medium, and Large. 

YouNow

Screenshot of the YouNow iPhone app

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What We Like

  • All live-video platform.

  • Home to mostly teens, especially musicians, who live stream daily.

  • Strong social networking vibe.

What We Don't Like

  • Broadcasters must buy a subscription.

  • Lots of in-app prompts to send tips or buy gifts.

  • Only subscribers can view content after its live broadcast.

YouNow is a popular live video streaming and chat app used more for casual video broadcasts than for professional work. Users must be at least 13 years old and consent to allow YouNow to use their videos however the company wants. Because many teens use the app, privacy is a concern. The site exercises caution with content, but live streaming is unpredictable, so there's no way the site can guarantee viewers won't see something objectionable.

Tinychat

Screenshot of the Tinychat iPhone app

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What We Like

  • Free group video chat.

  • One-click chat room.

  • No setup needed.

What We Don't Like

  • Not for team or office environments.

  • Mobile apps are not as stable as the website.

If you're looking to place a bigger emphasis on viewer interaction and chatting, Tinychat may be worth a try. It's an online video community used mostly for casual purposes. You can set up your own video chat room in any category or topic and invite other users to join, or you can join an existing room to view and chat.