I made my on air debut at BVE 2016, taking alongside industry legend Larry Jordan. We explored the challenges and benefits of streaming online video and audio.
You can find the discussion online, where we cover:
When to choose streaming your video and offering it for download
- When to consider streaming video live?
- How to monetize your online video
- Why you should use a CDN (content distribution network)
- Why user generated sites like YouTube do not give content owners enough control
- What to look for when you're choosing a streaming provider.
- Looking back on our discussion, I noticed that we focused on livestreaming. And during the BVE show, almost all the conversations I had were to do with livestreaming.
This makes sense. Livestreaming can be fraught with perils and pitfalls. For a first timer, it can be daunting to configure each part of a livestream. Each moving part needs your attention, and this can be overwhelming for first timers.
In fact, there have been many high profile mistakes made by organisations. In each case, they haven't anticipated their audience size, and they haven't tested enough.
In this article, then, I'm going to take it back to the basics. I'll show you what a livestreaming workflow looks like. You'll see each step, from taking the video and audio feed through to the delivery.
Contrary to this article's title, there is no secret behind seamless livestreaming. (Sorry.) Spoiler alert: It comes down to attention to detail and building a rock solid workflow. Old fashioned hard work.
The five stages of livestreaming
1. Signal acquisition
You're all set up to capture the event audio and video. Now it's time to push your video and audio to your chosen streaming platform.
How much bandwidth do you need for this? Well, this depends on the bitrate of the stream. But as a rule of thumb, you should allow for 50-100% overhead of the outputted stream (at a minimum).
When working on a livestream, our team will always run onsite tests to check the connectivity and bandwidth. This is a simple €“ yet often overlooked €“ step which saves a tonne of hassle.
Buffering can be the difference between the success and failure of your livestream. Using StreamAMG's Media Platform, you can push the livestream into many different bitrates.
This means your audience will receive the best version of your video, based on their connection. This minimises the time for buffering and improves your audience's experience of the livestream.
3. Delivery A CDN (content delivery network) takes your video and distributes it to thousands of global servers. Wherever your audience are watching from, they'll receive the stream from the nearest server. This results in faster loading and a more stable stream. We use our own Media Platform technology to encode the feed, then it's distributed through the world-class Akamai CDN. This is extremely simple to set up within the software, as shown in this short guide on our website. 4. UX (user experience)
We're experts at building €˜microsites', which are completely branded for you and feature your own content. Within a microsite, we can add features to improve the experience. In the corporate sector, this could be slides, polls and chat features, for example. For sports, this could include match data.
Most of all, do not overlook mobile support. It is an absolute priority for any livestream. You should choose a solution based on a HTML5 player, with HLS (HTTP Live Streaming), rather than a Flash and RTMP solution.
Flash is not supported by iOS or Android. It requires your desktop users to install extra software, which can slow down the performance of your video too.