9 Key Things to Know When Choosing A Live Streaming API

9 Key Things to Know When Choosing A Live Streaming API

Of course, you’re not really choosing an API. You’re choosing the best platform to suit your needs–but the API plays a big role in your decision. This essay will take a deeper dive into a topic we’ve previously covered: Live Streaming API.

It’s a subject that you probably understand at this point, especially if you read our earlier coverage of Live Streaming API. You can revisit those blogs to learn more about what APIs are and how they can be used to create your own video streaming apps.

Today, we’re going to focus on a related topic. Mainly, how APIs allow you to access content from your own website. I’ll also share:

  • Some more of the benefits of APIs
  • Great 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!

The benefits of using a Live Streaming API

“Application Programming Interfaces,” or APIs, have many benefits. In broad terms, those benefits fall under the following categories:

Automation

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. Or, you can batch tasks like uploading content to your video host. Encoding and other lengthy tasks can also be automated.

All this can be coded into scripts via the terminal, or integrated into applications. That makes it easy for anyone, whether you’re an IT expert or beginner, to access these powerful tools.

Integration

Extending on this theme, APIs shine when it comes to integration. Adding live streaming onto an existing broadcast system is easy with an API. Just write some short code explaining the parameters you need. Then, plug it into your existing architecture and you’re ready to go. APIs allow for integration with almost any platform. These include mobile, web, and desktop apps, hardware systems, cameras, servers, and more.

Organizations and businesses that are already recording or broadcasting will find this 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.

[Tweet “APIs shine when it comes to integration, automation, and eliminating bottlenecks.”]

Streamlining

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 make your entire operation run more smoothly, and 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.

Having an API enables you to create your own systems that are very responsive. RESTful APIs are especially speedy. For example, take a look at the benchmarks from WordPress’s new RESTful API.

Live Streaming API

Development

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, web platforms, and even hardware to interface with your data and content using the API.

The result is customized, powerful, and streamlined systems that get the job done. And not just any job, but your specific job. When you have access to the raw commands via API, you can code your own solutions to unique issues while taking advantage of the powerful infrastructure and features of other platforms. That’s the upside of developing your own systems using API calls.

[Tweet “When you have access to the raw commands via API, you can code your own solutions to unique issues.”]

Piggyback

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. It was nothing new, strictly speaking. However, it leveraged APIs to build on existing live streaming technology and connect to Twitter’s large user-base. That allowed it to grow fast, leverage social networks, and generate buzz. It’s been a runaway success!

Innovation

Once you have these powers, you’re free to design your own iteration. Building something completely new is possible. And using APIs to leverage existing services can power this innovation. APIs can be thought of as “building blocks” that you can use to put together something completely new.

[Tweet “APIs can be thought of as “building blocks” that you can use to put together something completely new.”]

What are some examples of how a Live Streaming API is used?

We’ve given a number of examples in previous blogs of Live Streaming API in action. But there are countless more illustrations of this technology. Here are four examples.

Eleutian teaches English using Live Video and API

collage_v2Students 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 are recorded via webcam and beamed to students around the world. Slides are used as supplementary material. Chat and forums are used for 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 that disrupted lessons and caused major issues.

Using a live streaming API, Eleutian has been able to sync their slideshow changes with the on-screen live video broadcast. This delivers a much higher quality experience for the 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.

Fox sports live engagement facebook APIA new feature is continuous live streaming. These features enable pro-level media organizations to stream cheaply and easily. They can reach their Facebook audience natively, as well.

Fox Sports, for example, has begun streaming 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 catalog is so massive. One solution is an API to enable the public to access their content 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. This information is used in search engines, applications, and websites. All 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 finding inappropriate content. 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 accessing files.

SightEngine API for video detection

Their moderation engine, based on advanced heuristics, automatically scans content for nudity.  Then, it provides instant notification if anything is detected. 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?

Adding live video to your website is easy. To get started, you need to do three things:

  1. Sign up for a live streaming service
  2. Create your first live stream
  3. Embed the code in your website

Signing up for a video streaming service

The first is simple. Most organizations choose professional live streaming platforms. Services like our own or anyone of our friends’ in the industry. The benefits and control gained by organizations using streaming services platforms compared to social networks for this purpose are endless. 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 enjoy a few clicks to live stream from their mobile phones.

Platforms such as ours 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. Generally, you’ll click a button labeled “create new channel” or “create new live stream.” Then 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 proceed to broadcast. Of course there are other considerations involved but let’s not digress for now.

Embedding a live video feed on your website

embedded live streams on explore.org

Once your broadcasting, you need to “embed” this live stream on your website. Streaming from your website sends all of the live and video-on-demand to your site. That’s big for lead generation, list building, and your organization’s brand. These days, it involves copying and 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 making money off your stream. That’s possible via pay-per-view, subscriptions, or advertising. These options can generally be configured 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.

But now, 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 there 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.

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 if you wanted, you can code your own backend that looks and functions just like the native platform. Except for it would be on your own domain.

[Tweet “The most powerful Live Streaming API will reproduce all the features of the live streaming platform.”]

A Live Streaming API enables you to integrate features into your website such as:

  • Uploading
  • Encoding
  • Naming and tagging
  • Settings for monetization, privacy, and so on
  • Analytics

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, on the same platform.

You can access the powerful tools of your live streaming platform directly. Settings like Pay Per View status and pricing can be modified directly from your own platform. There’s no need to go anywhere else.

Kaltura API in action streaming video news

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.

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 can be inserted in your web, desktop, or mobile app. When executed, they’ll carry out the actions you have 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. For e.g. To Read content – programmers and developers use a various set of commands defined by the API provider. 

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.

http://api.dacast.com/v2/channel?apikey={your_apikey}

This would return a list of your channels in standardized JSON format.

Using the channel ID’s returned by this command, you can update a channel. This is done with the “PUT” command. Settings that can be customized using the “PUT” command include:

  • Channel title
  • Description
  • Category
  • Status (turn on or off)
  • Live counter toggle (display number of viewers)
  • Google Analytics toggle
  • Autoplay toggle

In summary

APIs are a powerful tool. A Live Streaming API enables powerful applications. They can provide direct access to the technology underlying live streaming. This means the power is in your hands.

The ability to build customized platforms to upload, configure, and manage your live streams… it 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 scalable, integrated, and automated.

We get really excited about APIs here at DaCast. It’s a subject we love to discuss, share, and learn more about. Are you using a Live Streaming API in an innovative way? Or 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.

Future of Live video streaming