Live Video Streaming: Guide To The Best Broadcast Services To Stream Your Video In Real-Time
Live video streaming services allow you to broadcast live any video content from your computer to any number of viewers connected via the Internet. In this guide to the best live video streaming tools you can find all of the available free web video broadcasting services compared and put through their paces.
Photo credit: Ruslan Gilmanshin
To stream live video online, the key requirement is having a good upload bandwidth. 384Kbps would be an acceptable minimum, with 500 Kbps or more providing the best results and video quality. Unfortunately many Internet providers offer plenty of download bandwidth to Internet subscribers, but keep the available upload bandwidth to a very bare minimum. This is why it is a good idea before you get excited about video conferencing that you do check your effective upload bandwidth from the computer and connection you plan to be using.
There are many free tools that can help you gauge your effective upload speed. I use the one from my provider, which is at http://test.ngi.it but there are a ton of other good ones starting from these ones listed here: best tools to test your Internet connection speed.
One thing to keep in mind when testing your upload speed is from where this is being measured. If your speed test uploads a test file to a relatively close by server, you may likely see upload speeds as high as your provider promised, but considering that when you video conference with someone, your other party may likely be across the ocean, it is always a good idea to use a speed testing service that can measure your upload speed from different locations around the world.
Whether to stream your life 24/7 or to create a professional daily show that integrates pre-recorded clips and multiple cams, you have also lots of live video streaming services at your disposal to broadcast yourself in real-time.
All of the top video streaming services allow you to easily embed and re-distribute your video channel to multiple sites and social media, generally providing also a way for users to comment back, rate, and even chat back to you during your live transmission.
Advanced features include automatic recording of your video performances, auto-distribution of your live video to popular video-sharing sites like YouTube, the ability to invite and display video co-hosts who connect from separate locations just as news reporters do during the news, or event the option to switch between multiple live cams connected to your own computer.
In the comparative table that follows I have collected and compared the more important key traits and features for all of the best live video streaming services available out there. While I was testing and reviewing these tools, these were the most important criteria I did identify to put these services through their paces:
- Text Chat: Integrated text-chat with viewers while streaming.
- Co-hosting: Option to host other video streams in your show.
- Multiple Cams: Live switchboard supporting multiple live cams.
- Recording: Auto-recording of live streams.
- Distribution: Posting to YouTube and other video sharing sites automatically.
Live Video Streaming Comparative Table
Live Video Streaming: Guide To The Best Services To Broadcast Your Video In Real-Time
Ustream is a live video streaming solution that helps you broadcast your life in real-time. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, a microphone and a webcam or video camera. As a broadcaster you got a personal page where your viewers can check your live video broadcast, the videos you have produced so far and use a text-chat area to interact live with you (also using Twitter). Your video player is fully embeddable on other web pages or social media sites. You can also syndicate your videos via RSS feed or using social bookmarking services like delicious or StumbleUpon. On your personal page, you can also display a list of recommended shows you follow and who is following your channel. If you link the Ustream channel to your YouTube account, uploading your video streams to YouTube is just one click away. No co-hosting feature or multiple cams management. You can record your videos, but not automatically.
Livestream (former Mogulus) is a video streaming solution to broadcast live and on-demand videos. Set your webcam (or external video camera), microphone and you are ready to go. Your live show is streamed using a video player you can fully customize to match the look and feel of your website. Several ready-made templates are also available to get you started quickly. Each show page integrates a chat area to interact in real-time with your audience. When broadcasting, you can switch back and forth to multiple cameras, regardless of their location. You can also integrate Livestream with your Twitter account to send a tweet notifying all your friends you are live at that very moment. After finishing your live broadcast, your clips are automatically recorded. Livestream is web-based but Windows users can also download for free the Procaster suite which allows you to manage and produce your live streaming efforts directly from your computer. No co-hosting available for the time being.
Justin.tv is an online community where you can broadcast, watch and interact around live and on-demand video. The service provides you with a show page where you can stream your video using a Flash-based video player. The show page and the video player are fully customizable. You can also distribute your video player to third-party social media sites or embed the player on your own blog. Each show page has an integrated text-chat area where you can interact with other Justin.tv users, but also with your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace contacts. If you link your Twitter account to Justin.tv you can also tweet everytime you are watching a video (using a dedicated hashtag) and see the reactions of other users live on the show page. If you integrate MySpace with the streaming service, your status is automatically updated when you watch new videos. After your broadcast is over, your live streams are automatically archived for seven days to be downloaded. No multiple cams or co-hosting.
Stickam is both a live video service and a social network that allows you to stream real-time videos over the Internet. You can start a video channel with live or pre-recorded material just with your webcam and mic. When you are live streaming using Stickam, you and your viewers have a text chat area close to the video player to interact with each other. Up to 6 members of your audience can also connect using their webcams and microphones to create a video-conferencing session on-the-fly. Your can redistribute and embed your Stickam video player on any web page or social media site. No co-hosting or multiple cams. Auto recording and auto distribution features are not available for the time being.
BlogTV helps you live stream your videos straight from your computer and engage with your audience. You can also record your videos and broadcast your clips at a later time. BlogTV gives you a personal show page with your profile info, video player, chat area and list of your recorded and upcoming shows. To chat with your audience you can either use simple text or login with your Twitter account and tweet with other users. Your viewers can freely download any of the video you publish for offline viewing or redistribute your show episodes to any web page or social media site. You can also embed your video player and customize it to match the look of your own blog. No co-hosting or multiple cams management available. Auto-recording and auto-distribution not supported.
Kyte is an online and mobile platform to stream live and on-demand video content. You get a dedicated page where a video player streams your videos and your audience can watch and interact with your content. Next to each video you can put a "module", which is an interactive widget to engage your audience. From the list of modules you can use, you have a text-chat area to communicate with other users in real-time, both via simple text or Twitter messages. Users can also use audio or video to chat back with you. Each video player is largely customizable and can be redistributed on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace with one click. Video player can be also embedded on your blog, both by you or your viewers, who can also comment your clips. No co-hosting or multiple cams management features supported. Auto-recording and auto-distribution of your videos is also not available.
- LiveVideo ***DEAD
LiveVideo is a video streaming community where you can produce live shows or video-chat with other users. Just launch your Producer Console and manage all aspects of your show, including video customization, different playback clips, cameras, polls, and more. When you finish setting up your personal page, you can live stream your video or schedule the release of pre-made clips in a video playlist. When you are live, other users can join you to chat, either via text or using their webcams and microphones. Users can also drag and drop different web-cam enabled users inside a video conference to have them participate. Also, as the owner of the show, you can drag chatroom members into your webcam window, and make them co-hosts. No auto-recording nor auto-posting features available.
With Veetle you can live stream video from your webcam, DVD, tuner card, any file on your computer or your own TV. To have Veetle work on your machine, you need to install either Veetle TV or Veetle Broadcaster software (PC, Mac and Linux), depending if you want to watch or broadcast videos. Both software make the live streaming service work inside your browser. The channels you create with Veetle cannot be personalized nor redistributed on other sources through an embeddable player. The service is still at its beta stage and misses common features like co-hosting a show, manage multiple cams, auto-record a show and auto-post your live streams to external destinations.
Yaika is a social lifecasting community where you can live stream your video or audio, and also interact with other users. Every channel created on Yaika works like a blog, so you can post your live streaming content and also write posts. Other features include live chat with your audience, receive comments, ratings and also redistribute your content over third-party websites using an embeddable player. Your viewers can use their webcams and microphones to connect with you live and you can make any member of your audience the co-host of your show. There is also a video messaging feature to send public / private video clips to anyone with an e-mail address. Multiple cams are supported on Yaika. Auto recording and auto distribution are not available for the time being.
Make.tv works as a professional web-based studio to produce live videos. You can switch between multiple cameras, monitor different sources (live and pre-recorded) and adjust volume levels inside an interface that resembles a recording studio. Your viewers can chat with you in real-time via text or using their own webcams and microphones. Co-hosting is also supported if you want a member of your audience to present with you. You can freely redistribute your live videos with a customizable player that you can embed on any web page or social media. Recording is allowed, but not automatically. After your clip is recorded, Make.tv publishes the live video without any upload or conversion process. Auto distribution is not supported. Pricing available on the site.
Glomera is a web TV platform that helps you broadcast live videos. You can also pull videos from YouTube to broadcast inside your web TV or create niche-targeted compilations to redistribute on third-party websites.. With Glomera "Total embed" option, you can install the whole Glomera platform on any website or blog to broadcast your live videos. The video players available are fully customizable to match the look and feel of any web page and adapt to your needs. Users can comment your videos and re-embed your clips but cannot text-chat with you. Co-hosts and multiple cams support is not available. No auto upload to third-party sites and auto-recording supported either.
- Zaplive.tv ***DEAD
Zaplive.tv is a video streaming platform to broadcast live videos. Just plug your external camcorder to your computer (or use your webcam) and you are ready to stream using the web-based interface of Zaplive.tv. Multiple cams are not allowed, neither you care able to co-host your live streaming session with other users. The video-streaming player is fully embeddable on any web page and supports an interactive text-chat box to communicate in real-time with your users. Other player features include a Twitter window to check any Twitter stream and perform searches, and also an interactive button that allows your viewers to call you. Zaplive.tv also works on your mobile with a dedicated software that supports several last-generation cellphones. No auto-recording nor auto-distribution.
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on July 27th, 2009 as "Live Video Streaming: Guide To The Best Broadcast Services To Stream Your Video In Real-Time".
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