Live streaming is becoming a new normal. Statistics show that SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) will have 383 million subscriptions worldwide. It’s a convenient way of watching movies, TV shows, and other content. You can access it at any time, anywhere, at a reasonable cost, or even for free.

Let’s see what is it, how it works, and what other secrets it hides. 

What Is Live Streaming?

It is not rocket science. It’s transmitting a video from one location to any other place in the world in real-time. The video is sent over the Internet without being previously recorded. And the viewers on the other side of the stream can watch the broadcast from anywhere.

There are three types of live streaming platforms – one is dedicated specifically for people who look for entertainment, and two others are for creators who want to share their video content with the audience here and now.

The Types of Live Streaming

We’ll check out all of the three types so you can better understand the idea behind it.

Live streaming TV service

Firstly, let’s look at it as a viewer. Live streaming TV services are one of the most popular ways of using this form of content transfer. And most likely, you, your friends, and your family use it regularly. 

Here are the most popular live streaming TV services :

  • Netflix
  • YouTube TV
  • Hulu
  • Sling TV
  • AT&T TV

The advantage is that you can watch the content on-demand, whenever and wherever you want. However, there is the downside. Since you need to subscribe to a paid plan it’s not always cheap.

Additionally, streaming live TV eats a lot of data. For that reason, it’s good to have a fast and reliable connection. So if you’re planning to use streaming services with live TV, it’s best to equip yourself with a good device that’ll allow you to quickly send and receive data. And that might be another expense.

If you’re not a fan of using your laptop for streaming live TV, you’ll also need a good TV.

Live streaming to social media

It’s one of the easiest ways and is commonly used by many people. You might have seen your friends stream an event live on Facebook, for example.

The most popular and best social media platforms that allow people to live stream include all the ones you know:

  • Facebook Live
  • Instagram Live
  • LinkedIn Live (used for professionals from the business world and people who work on their career)
  • YouTube Live
  • Periscope (by Twitter)
  • Snapchat
  • Spotify

This form of live streaming is used by many groups of people: musicians use it to organize events, concerts, and meetings with fans; influencers use it to reach out to more people; to share ideas, artwork and other creative forms; as part of marketing strategy to promote business or a product to gain more clients. Some people do it for fun, as a hobby. For example, one of the largest groups of live streamers are video game players.

Live streaming with dedicated apps

There are apps created solely for this purpose. These include:

  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Twitch
  • Livestream
  • Vimeo Livestream
  • Dacast
  • Broadcast Me
  • IBM Cloud Video
  • And many more

These are mostly used by professionals to live stream webinars, meetings, trainings, conferences, and similar events. Additionally, they allow you to record your sessions and later share them with the audience to re-watch, for example, to solidify knowledge, repeat lessons, etc.

Such software has become very popular during the coronavirus pandemic when companies needed to switch to a remote work style. That created the mass need for live streaming platforms for cross-department events and live meetings with clients.

How Does Live Streaming Work?

You don’t need to be an expert to live stream. Since the business of live streaming has been steadily growing, the market is already full of professional tools that can do all the work for you. However, technically speaking it is an advanced process. In general, it requires three components – audio and video equipment, encoder, and streaming service.

Now that you know what live streaming is and how it’s used, let’s dive into more details.

The technical side

What does it mean to live stream on a technical level? To better understand how it works, let’s go step by step through this process.

  1. Audio/Video capture

The first step is to capture the video and audio. Here, you’ll need a camera and additional equipment like lightning, a separate microphone, and other devices you find necessary.

You can either do it alone, or hire specialists with professional technology.

Either way, you need to remember to connect the camera to the computer via HD-SDI or HDMI connector so you can send your video to the world.

  1. Segmentation

Segmentation means that your video is divided into separate pieces, not literally, of course. A video contains a lot of information. There are the metadata and characters that humans can’t read. But the technology can.

Hence, the segmentation – dividing the digital information into smaller chunks. It’s necessary so the software can accurately process all the data.

  1. Compression

When the segmentation is done, the next step is compression. And that’s simple. It’s removing the unnecessary elements so you can send the file quicker. In other words, it’s making the video smaller.

Here’s how the WinZip, a popular file compressor, describes a compressed file, “It’s a sort of archive that contains one or more files that have been reduced in size. Since these files are smaller, they can be stored without taking up much space, or transferred at higher speeds over the Internet.”

Don’t worry, once compressed, your file can be decompressed, but we’ll talk about that later.

  1. Encoding

In the simplest form, it’s converting the data into a coded form. That allows to transmit streamed video information via the Internet.

The encoder is a small device that allows you to create that new format of data and be interpreted by other devices (that’s why people on the other side of the world can easily watch live-streamed content).

The most popular encoding standards include HEVC, H.264, or AV1.

  1. CDN (Content delivery network) distribution

CDN content delivery network or content distribution network is a group of servers located in different geographical locations that make it possible for you to quickly receive online content.

And that’s exactly how the live-streamed content is reaching the viewers.

  1. Decoding

We’ve already mentioned, encoding so it’s time for the decoding. This is the process of receiving, deciphering, and decompressing the previously segmented video data.

Now people on the other side of the screen can watch the live stream in full HD.

You can think about it as transporting a box – you first unfold it, walk from location A to location B with a thin paperboard in your hand, and then you fold it back to its original form.

  1. Creating your own platform

It’s also possible to build your own platform for live streaming, either for TV live streaming or other purposes.

Just hire specialists who will customize the platform and make it the way you want so your audience can get exactly what they need. If you’re looking for a professional solution, make sure to check BS Group to create a perfect video ecosystem!

Live Streaming and Data Usage

How much data does it take? It depends on several factors. In general, live streaming takes a lot of data. For example, Netflix predicted usage is 3 GB/hour for HD and 7 GB/hour for 4K.

Other factors include how often you use it, in what quality you watch the content, what services you use, or even your location (it’s much harder to get the Internet range if you’re hidden in a cabin in the middle of the woods).

Additionally, certain Internet providers restrict monthly data usage, or in some cases, the speed is limited after you exceed a specific threshold.

It’s also possible to control the data usage in the settings of your smart TV or live streaming platform.

To sum it up, there is one ultimate solution to the data usage problem – get so much transfer data that it won’t stand in the way of watching what you want, how you want, and when you want. In other words, use the service of a reliable Internet provider.

What Do You Need to Live Stream?

Now that you know all the science behind live streaming, you can finally start recording your session or watching the favorite content.

Here’s everything you need to create a perfect live stream or use the SVOD.

Plan your event and prepare

Planning the event is a must. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a one-time session or a multi-time happening.

If you want to do it as a professional, you should know what you’re doing so the audience can perceive you as a specialist. That’s especially important in marketing when you’re planning to reach out to people and gain more clients.

Think about what you want to talk about – do you have the main theme around which you will build your video content? What topics will you cover? What is your audience? Get to know the details to deliver the ideal live stream.

You don’t have to create a precise timeline of the event but it can help you to write down the main points. The more specific your topic is, the more aspects you’ll need to think about.

Set a budget

If you’re planning to invest in professional equipment, make sure to calculate costs, think about the pros and cons.

It can be profitable if your ROI (return on investment) rate is high. It’s worth spending money on the proper equipment if you’re planning to incorporate live streaming into your long-term marketing strategy.

When using SVOD to watch your favorite content, also think about how much money you can spend on the subscription and necessary equipment.

Equipment

It’s impossible to share your live stream without the right equipment.

Here’s what you can use as a streamer:

  • Microphone for clear audio and camera for high-quality video
  • Encoder
  • Native apps with built-in live streaming (Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or others)
  • Dedicated software such as third-party apps for mobile, web, or your desktop
  • Video conferencing and webinar tools (these are best if you’re live streaming a training or conference)
  • Restreaming services – allow your stream to be broadcasted to different platforms at the same time
  • Hardware-based tools

And if you’re a user of live TV streaming services, you’ll need this equipment:

  • A smart TV or TV that’s compatible with live streaming platforms
  • Your favorite live TV streaming platform, e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, etc.
  • Additional devices if you want to customize your live stream – remote control, speakers, or additional storage

Strong Internet connection

To provide a live stream without delay and glitches, it’s best if you invest in a fast and reliable Internet connection.

It’ll allow you to transfer a large amount of data quickly with no effort. After all, you don’t want to pause your live stream every five minutes to wait for it to load.

Choosing streaming services with live TV

If you’re looking for live streaming TV services to be able to watch your favorite content on-demand, look for those that offer content tailored to your needs.

Streaming services with live TV offer numerous programs and options but they vary depending on the provider. Some are dedicated only to on-demand movie and series live streaming, others offer sports events, or musical events Thus, make sure to check all the alternatives before making the final choice.

Just remember that not all live streaming platforms integrate with popular networks. If you want to watch live streams from social media, it may not always be possible with streaming live TV services. In this case, you may want to consider getting a smart TV like Android TV that lets you download your favorite apps.

Tips

If you’re sharing your video content with other people, you can improve the experience for both you and the audience.

Take a look at the five easy but effective tips that’ll make you a better live streamer.

  1. Run a test

Glitches and errors happen, and it’s normal, but to make sure things go as smoothly as possible during your live stream, check everything prior to your live stream session.

  1. Keep the camera steady

Nobody likes to watch shaky videos. If you have to walk or move it to show your audience something specific, or have a problem keeping the camera in one place, use a camera tripod/stand to keep it steady.

  1. Use unobtrusive background

If you want people to focus on you or what you’re presenting rather than on your colorful wall, the kitchen, or living room that’s behind you, record your live stream on a plain background. It may be a white wall, green screen, or choose a virtual background if possible.

  1. Keep it simple

Remember when we mentioned segmentation, compression, encoding, and decompression? Although all these processes take just a few minutes, your and your audience’s computers will have to deal with it which may cause delays.

Try to minimize your input to limit the amount of data the technology will have to deal with.

  1. Disable other connections

To improve your live stream and enhance data transmission, turn off your other connections and apps. That way, they won’t eat your transfer data and will improve the live stream quality.

Conclusion

The interest in live streaming is steadily growing. With all the possibilities technology offers, people find it more convenient. It’s often free, allows them to personalize their experience, and watch whatever they want wherever they are.

Whether you’re live-streaming a video or using live streaming TV services to watch your favorite content, it’s good to know how the technology works so you can get the most out of it.


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