More dynamic, busy lifestyles and the growing demand for readily available content are among the main reasons for the rising popularity of streaming services. The emergence of streaming platforms has not only dramatically changed how people consume content, but also impacted how creators deliver the content to their target audiences.

Video content can be offered as live streaming or VoD, and understanding the differences between the two methods allows to choose what works best for the content. In this post, we take a closer look at the two methods, and discuss their main advantages and typical use cases.

Is Live Streaming and VOD the Same Thing?

Live streaming and VoD are not the same thing, and choosing one method over the other should be motivated by careful consideration of the specific content type in question. But first things first:

Live streaming is the closest thing to traditional programming known from television. It is the delivery of real-time, live video content over the internet. To watch live streaming, the audience needs internet-enabled devices: smart phones, smart TVs or tablets running an app. Because live streaming enables near-live broadcasting of video, it lends well to scenarios once reserved for the traditional television: concerts, conferences, events (think Oscars, Google I/O or Apple Keynote).

VoD stands for “video on demand” and, as the name suggests, allows viewers to watch content whenever they wish to. In this way, VoD is basically the opposite of live streaming. The common denominator, however, are the internet-connected devices used by the viewers to consume the content.

The Advantages of Live Streaming

Because live streaming is a real-time form of content delivery, it offers various benefits like interaction and vicarious experience of watching the content.

Live Streaming encourages viewer interaction

The sense of urgency and excitement live events give plenty of opportunities to interact with the viewers. Creators can use quick polls or comment sections to better connect with the audience, which fosters building community.

Live Streaming is cheaper

Live-streaming may require a tiny bit of pre-production, but at the same time, it requires no post-production. In this way, it is a faster and cheaper method of delivering content. This lowers the entry point for many creators. While this way it is much more likely to make mistakes, most viewers don’t really notice.

Live Streaming is live

The experience of watching events in real time is second to none for specific cases like sports events. For example, events streamed in real time evoke more emotional reactions from people than pre-recorded material. The impact of watching live content is amplified by the fact of co-experiencing what’s happening on the screen as it’s happening and reacting to it together with other viewers – through the comment sections.

The Advantages of VoD

VoD is very likely the most popular method of consuming content today as it is more accessible and adapted to modern, hectic lifestyles. Unlike traditional TV programming, it helps people fit the viewing experience around their daily schedules, rather than the other way round.

VoD gives the creators more time to fully polish the content

This gives the publisher better control of the quality of the content, and a possibility to improve on it in many ways by adding effects, subtitles and transitions. This is especially important for rich videos that require careful editing and rendering. In post-production, the editing can improve the pacing of videos – or help to cut out unnecessary or inappropriate content.

VoD gives creators full freedom

With production and post-production time, creators can properly execute their original ideas. Real-time videos, unlike VoD, don’t allow a lot of editing.

Audiences find VoD more convenient

While live streaming works for specific kinds of content, people generally value the convenience of being able to watch videos whenever they want to, rather than being dependent on the programming.

Do You Need Both?

Picking the content delivery method requires careful consideration of the pros and cons of either method. For example, live Q&A sessions will work better with live streaming. On the other hand, scripted content works better as video-on-demand content.

As a creator or publisher, you certainly do not need to embrace both live streaming and VoD, but there are benefits in doing so – especially if one complements the other.

While certain video types do great when delivered in real time, they can still be repurposed as VoD content. For example, a YouTube creator can do a live Q&A session, but it would be a waste not to make it available to all people who missed it.

This works equally well for other events – once the stream is over, the video is uploaded to a VoD platform and viewers can see it whenever they want to.

But the combination can also work the other way round. Creators can edit content like they would if it was on-demand, but then stream it like it was a live event. The content can then be served as an on-demand video.

Final Words

The dilemma between live streaming and VoD is not uncommon, but creators no longer have to choose. There are methods of using both as part of the content strategy, and by doing so, creators can use one method to complement the other.