So you don’t have the budget, time and/or inclination to set up a costly live online video stream of your event. So what. Free and inexpensive solutions abound that utilize hardware you’ve already got—just pick up your phone, tablet, webcam or that evergreen Betamax camera and get streaming—but the business model for this medium is continually evolving and, as a result, what was once free may now be “free to try”; ads may appear whereas in the past they didn’t; and some streaming providers are pivoting to service different needs…which no longer fit your needs.
This free, Twitter-owned app has a unique personality due to the “like” feature materializing as animated hearts floating up the screen. If you and your group can get past that cutesy component—or if you, in fact, welcome it—then Periscope may be your mobile, live-streaming solution.
Periscope streams are traditionally deleted after 24 hours—the link goes dead, along with your content—which is not a good match if you intend to archive your footage for later sharing. However, the platform now allows users to set whether they want the video to vanish after a day or remain online for later viewing.
The consumer adoption of Periscope throughout its first year of public operation is impressive—more than 200 million broadcasts—and means that, depending on your demographic, potential attendees may be familiar with and therefore more inclined to check out your live-streaming content if on this platform.
Currently, live streaming content with this service requires an actual computer and webcam (or attached camcorder)—fine for most laptops, but a no-go if you’re seeking a mobile-only solution. Viewers can, of course, watch the stream via mobile devices—you just can’t broadcast from mobile, yet. YouTube Live is actually a fairly robust service, with privacy settings, real-time analytics, live chat and even opportunities for easy monetization of your stream, but remains ideal for a stationary camera stream. (Step-by-step directions for getting started with YouTube Live.)
Later this year will see the launch of YouTube Connect, which should be stout competition for Periscope and other free, mobile-first streaming options. Stay tuned!
YouTube is the world’s leading user-generate video site, owned by Google. As a result, pretty much anyone who’s been on the internet is familiar with its user interface and is likely comfortable with its functionality.
This native service streams a user’s live video from his/her mobile device directly into the user’s Facebook news feed—ideal if your demographic is big on Facebook. Much like the benefits of Periscope—so many people already have the app installed—the fact that you and your users don’t need to install a new app (assuming you’ve still got Facebook installed)—means it’s that much easier for your audience to get involved. And the sharing nature of the social media platform also makes sharing intuitive. Much like YouTube Live, Facebook Live provides access to valuable analytics, such as total minutes viewers, number of unique viewers, people reached, etc.
Over at HubSpot, Lindsay Kolowich has put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for using Facebook Live.
Host to countless important live “citizen journalist” broadcasts direct from demonstrations, protests and revolutions around the world, this standard bearer in the mobile, live-streaming world, acquired by IBM in January 2016, is no longer ideal for free streaming as free broadcasting Ustream accounts now have a limit of 50 viewers per country and include in-video advertisements.
However, if you upgrade to Ustream Pro, starting at $99 per month, the in-video ads vanish and your live stream can serve up to 100 viewer hours (“viewer hours” = number of broadcasts * number of viewers per broadcast * total time each viewer watches each broadcast). Your video is still Ustream branded at this level, so if you truly want to customize your channels—perhaps a sponsor is covering event expenses and you need a place to show off their involvement—you’ll have to move up to, at least, the Gold level ($499 per month). At this point, an actual budget begins to be needed and you’re shifting out of the “free and cheap” live-streaming category.
Previously viewed as the most direct competition for Periscope, Meerkat is moving out of the live-streaming scene it helped popularize and, as CEO Ben Rubin told Recode, “a social network where ‘everybody is live.’” It sounds like this future Meerkat could still be used as a mobile, live-streaming platform, but it’s best to let the company figure out what it thinks it should be before diving in.
The Live Streaming Checklist
What you need to make your next live stream a success.