When it comes to broadcasting live video stream, you’re not choosing an API per se. You’re choosing the best of the available video streaming platforms to suit your needs. That said, live streaming APIs should play a significant role in your decision. While you’ve likely heard of APIs in general, we want to help you understand the factors to consider when comparing live streaming APIs.
(For further background before reading this article, you can check out our earlier posts about live video APIs and their applications for streaming live.)
Our focus in this article centers on how live streaming APIs allow you to access content from your own website. In particular, we’ll cover the following topics:
- The benefits of APIs
- Successful examples of broadcaster APIs in action
- How to embed live streaming on your website
- How to create your own systems for controlling and monitoring content
- Basic API commands
Let’s get started with a discussion of the many benefits of live streaming APIs!
The benefits of using a live streaming API
APIs, or “Application Programming Interfaces,” have many benefits. In broad terms, those benefits fall under the following categories:
An API allows you to automate tasks that would otherwise require a lot of labor. For example, you can pre-schedule live streams to go online. Alternatively, you can batch tasks like uploading content to your video host. Finally, you can also automate encoding and other lengthy tasks.
You can code all of these options into scripts via the terminal, or integrate them into applications. These options make it easy for anyone, from beginners to IT experts, to access these powerful tools.
Expanding the theme of automation, APIs shine when it comes to integration. Adding live streaming onto an existing broadcast system is easy with a live streaming API. Just write some short code explaining the parameters you need. Then, plug that code into your existing architecture and you’re ready to go. Live streaming APIs allow for integration with almost any platform. These include mobile, web, and desktop apps, as well as hardware systems, cameras, servers, and more.
Organizations and businesses that are already recording or broadcasting will find this feature especially useful. Live streaming can be incorporated into existing workflows using a live streaming API. This process avoids disruption of existing services. It can also save time and expenses by ensuring legacy hardware remains in operation.
Integrating APIs helps to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks in your system. This can save time and reduce the need to train employees on new systems. That, in turn, can help your entire operation to run more smoothly and ultimately improve your bottom line.
Streamlining via a live streaming API is an excellent practice to reduce “sticking points” in your system. A little effort up front can pay off big-time in the long term.
Access to data via API calls allows you to be creative. So does the ability to push videos and commands to your live streaming service provider. You can build your own apps and web platforms using the API. You can even build hardware to interface with your data and content.
The result is customized, powerful, and streamlined systems that get the job done. And not just any job, but your specific job. With access to the raw commands via a live streaming API, you can code your own solutions to unique issues. At the same time, you can take advantage of the powerful infrastructure and features of other platforms. That’s the upside of developing your own systems using API calls.[Tweet “With access to the raw commands via a live streaming API, you can code your own solutions to unique issues.”]
An API allows you to connect different services together in ways that the initial creators never imagined. Many success stories follow this trend and are iterations of products or services that failed in the past.
Look at Periscope, for example. When the app launched, it was not brand new streaming technology, strictly speaking. However, it leveraged APIs to build on existing live streaming technology and connect to Twitter’s large user-base. That allowed Periscope to grow fast, leverage social networks, and generate buzz. It’s been a runaway success!
With the support of APIs, you’re free to design your own iteration. Building something completely new is possible. And using live streaming APIs to leverage existing services can help power this innovation. Conceptualized in this way, APIs are a kind of “building blocks” that you can use to create something completely new.
What are some examples of how to use a live streaming API?
We’ve provided a number of examples of live streaming APIs in action in previous articles. But there are countless more illustrations of this technology. Here are four examples.
Eleutian teaches English using Live Video and API
Students abroad who want to study English with a qualified teacher often choose Eleutian. This company uses live video lessons as the primary teaching tool. Teachers record lessons via webcam and students around the world access this content. Slides provide students with supplementary material. Chat and forums support interactive questions and feedback.
Delays of 20-30 seconds are common when live streaming. But slideshow changes are nearly instant. This originally created a problem with syncing and caused major issues.
Using a live streaming API, Eleutian can now sync their slideshow changes with the on-screen live video broadcast. This delivers a much higher quality experience for their viewers.
Facebook Live Streaming API enables continuous professional broadcasts
Some broadcasters are using Facebook’s live API to stream from multiple cameras and professional-grade sources. Even drones can now stream live video to FB.
A new feature is continuous live streaming. This feature enables pro-level media organizations to stream cheaply and easily. These organizations can reach their Facebook audience natively, as well.
Fox Sports, for example, now streams several shows simultaneously on YouTube, Facebook Live, and TV. This is made possible by automated APIs that duplicate streams and send them to different sources.
ABC and MSNBC integrate full content search via API
Major news organizations want to drive users to their content. But that can be difficult when their catalogues are so massive. One solution is to use an API to enable the public to access their content more easily.
ABC News, for example, maintains an API that catalogues all ABC content. That includes local and national news as well as entertainment. MSNBC maintains a “Documents API.” This represents articles, video, images, and other content hosted on their site.
Queries return a list of material related to a keyword, another piece of content, or a location. Search engines, applications, and websites all use this information. All three now have access to a vast catalogue of video and other data.
API enables automated scanning for inappropriate content
One challenge with online video is the wealth of inappropriate content for particular audiences and contexts. Traditional scanning engines can’t parse images and videos. The typical solution has been to use human labor, but that’s expensive and slow.
SightEngine is a service that uses an API to interface with content uploaded to your site. It also works with content on the servers of your video host. The API allows direct access to content at the code level. This eliminates the need for human intervention or manually accessed files.
SightEngine’s moderation engine, based on advanced heuristics, automatically scans content for nudity. Then, it provides instant notification if it detects relevant content. You can disable or delete suspect content immediately. SightEngine can scan both live video feeds and on-demand content. Its speed and power are made possible via the API interface.
How can I add live video streaming to my website?
We’ve covered what APIs are and how live streaming APIs can be advantageous for many kinds of broadcasters and businesses. Now let’s turn to a discussion of you can apply this knowledge to your own live streaming.
Adding live video to your own website is easy. To get started, you need to do three things:
- Sign up for a live streaming service (i.e. Dacast).
- Create your first live stream.
- Embed the code on your website.
Signing up for a video streaming service
The first step is simple. Most organizations choose professional live streaming platforms. These include services like our own platform (Dacast), as well as our industry counterparts. The benefits and control gained by organizations using streaming services platforms (compared to free social network platforms) are endless. These benefits include tech support during your broadcasts, white-label service, monetization, and a professional look with options for customization. For personal use, you may want to consider the personally-oriented apps like Periscope or Facebook Live Video.
Setting up your first live stream
Creating a live stream is easy as well. Most organizations are able to start live streaming with minimal set-up time on professional-grade platforms. Personal users now experience just a few clicks to live stream right from their mobile phones.
Platforms like Dacast have a thorough documentation for first-time broadcasters to seasoned pros. Live streaming for organizations from a streaming services platform is straightforward regardless of your experience level. Generally, you’ll click a button labeled “create new channel” or “create new live stream.” From there, you’ll specify a title and description, and set other options. All of this will only take a few minutes—at least once you’re familiar with the options. Then you proceed to broadcast. There are other considerations, of course, but let’s not digress for now.
Embedding a live video feed on your website
Once you’re broadcasting, you need to “embed” this live stream on your website. Streaming from your website sends all of the live streams and video-on-demand to your site. That’s big for lead generation, list building, and your organization’s brand and marketing. These days, embedding involves copy-pasting a small code snippet from your streaming services provider to your website. It’s as easy as adding Google Analytics to your site. You don’t need any IT or programming experience.
Again, this process should be simple. To learn more about embed codes and how they work, check out this Hubspot article.
Advanced embedding features
Embedded live streams are great, but they’re just the beginning. You can do a lot of other great things with embedded live streams on your website.
For example, you may be interested in generating revenue from your stream. That’s possible via pay-per-view, subscriptions, or advertising. You can generally configure these options via a live streaming API. You don’t even have to change these settings from the host platform. Instead, you can use do so from your own website or app.
How can I access and manage content from my own website?
So—you’ve set up live streaming. You’ve embedded content on your own website, and you’re ready to start broadcasting.
At this point, you want to take that integration to the next level. You want to not only view the content on your website, but manage it from your own website as well. Having a single site for your content means no more wasting time with third party logins. It’s a fast, efficient, centralized way of dealing with your data. Content creators only have to learn one platform, and you only have to administer one set of users.
The good news? All of this is possible by using an API!
A good live streaming API will reproduce all the features of its live streaming platform. That means that you can code your own backend that looks and functions just like the native platform. Yet it exists on your own domain.
A Live Streaming API enables you to integrate features into your website, such as:
- Naming and tagging
- Settings for monetization, privacy, and so on, and
Building your own control panel allows you to integrate with existing content management systems. This creates a single location for administering online content of all types. It also simplifies management. For example, content creators at your organization can work together via the same platform.
You can access the powerful tools of your live streaming platform directly. You can modify settings like pay-per-view status and pricing plans directly from your own platform. There’s no need to go anywhere else.
Kaltura is a great example. This business has worked with local news agencies to create native, customized video content management systems. Using a live streaming API, they’ve built an uploading and publishing service that’s native. It’s built into the channel’s website. Journalists can use the platform without ever realizing they’re accessing a completely separate service.
You can do the same. All you need is an API, a software developer, and a few simple code elements. You may even be able to use code from existing open-source projects. It’s not that difficult, even with little technical know-how.
What are live streaming API commands and how do they work?
APIs function by the use of “commands” or “calls”. Essentially, these are snippets of code that you can insert within your web, desktop, or mobile app. When executed, they carry out the actions you defined in the code. CRUD or Create, Read, Update, Delete is a widely used standard for content platforms or APIs. Completing these actions is done through a variety of technical methods, usually standard-based.
Some codes are common among live streaming APIs.
Gaining access to Public or Private Video Streaming APIs will require developer access. This is managed through the creation of an app or an account on the live streaming services platform. Once created, a unique API Key or Token is generated for you. You’ll use that to access the live streaming API.
For example, you may want to return a list (READ) of all the live stream channels connected to your account. To do so, you would enter the following code into a web browser, terminal, or web-connected app.
This would return a list of your channels in standardized JSON format.
Using the channel IDs returned by this command, you can update a channel. This is done with the “PUT” command. Settings that you can customize using the “PUT” command include:
- Channel title
- Status (turn on or off)
- Live counter toggle (display number of viewers)
- Google Analytics toggle, and
- Autoplay toggle.
Note: If you’re interested to learn more about Dacast’s video API, you can read through our video content management API documention.
APIs are a powerful tool. Likewise, a live streaming API enables powerful applications. It can provide direct access to the technology underlying live streaming. This means that the power is in your hands.
The ability to build customized platforms to upload, configure, and manage your live streams all sounds great, right? Well, this is just the beginning! With a live streaming API, you can create personalized platforms. You can also integrate with existing systems to save time and effort. It’s a professional-grade approach that’s scaleable, integrated, and automated.
Here at Dacast, we get really excited about video and live streaming APIs and their applications! It’s a subject we love to discuss, share, and learn more about. Are you using a live streaming API in an innovative way? Do you have questions about our live streaming API and how to use it? Let us know in the comments! We may be interested in featuring you on our blog. We may also want to incorporate your ideas into a future article on this topic.
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Are you considering giving the Dacast streaming service a try? We recommend taking advantage of our 30-day free trial (no credit card required). That way, you can test out all our features yourself to decide which plan is best for you.
As always, thanks for reading, and good luck with your broadcasts!