Continuous Streaming: How to Produce a 24/7 Live Stream [2021 Update]
Table of Contents
For many businesses and organizations, live video streams are often used to broadcast short series or one-time events. This could include concerts, business conferences, product announcements, a social Q&A, or any other event that has a beginning and end.
However, as people continue to “cut the cord” on cable, the demand for continuous online live streams becomes greater.
That’s why many businesses and organizations are turning to linear video production, which is more commonly known as 24/7 live streaming.
In this post, we’re going to discuss what exactly over-the-top (OTT) live streaming is and the five steps for launching a successful 24/7 live stream. We will touch upon choosing an online video platform, required equipment, video monetization, and more.
To wrap things up, we will cover a few tips that you can follow to ensure a successful linear live stream.
Table of Contents
- What is OTT Streaming?
- Cutting the Cords on Cable: The Birth of Linear Streaming via OTT
- How to Do a 24/7 Live Stream in 5 Steps
- Choose the Best Online Video Platform
- Consider Bandwidth Costs
- Explore Equipment Requirements and Redundancy
- Plan and Produce Video Content
- Monetize Your 24-Hour Live Stream
- Tips for Successful Linear Live Streaming
What is OTT Streaming?
Before we dive into linear live streaming, it is important to understand what OTT technology is and how it is different from traditional cable.
OTT is short for “over-the-top” and it describes a streaming method that bypasses the need for cable or satellite technology. OTT streaming technology uses wireless internet to transmit video content rather than physical connections.
One of the main values of OTT streaming is that it works on all devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, and computers. This is different from satellite and cable which are typically only compatible with televisions that are connected to a box from a provider.
Cutting the Cords on Cable: The Birth of Linear Streaming via OTT
Over 32.1 million U.S. households ] cut the cord on their cable subscriptions in 2020 alone and are opting for online video instead. Despite the rise in cord-cutting, the demand for linear video is still alive since some people still want to watch “regular” TV channels without having to select the content each time around.
Last year, 2.38 billion people watched streaming or downloaded online video content across all devices, and more than 75% of them used a mobile device.
Linear live streaming is the model that many television networks have used for decades. Different programs air at set times. Some are being broadcasted in real-time whereas others are pre-recorded.
OTT linear live streaming that is delivered over the internet is becoming a bit more popular. This is different than the on-demand streaming we’ve slowly become accustomed to, but it is also different from a regular TV station. It uses TV-style streaming via internet-based OTT delivery.
As content distribution continues to moves online, OTT linear streaming will become more important. In fact, it’s predicted that most households will ditch traditional TV subscriptions by 2024.
This new OTT distribution model is a blessing for content producers. In the past, live linear streaming was restricted to a few large businesses and public television. Now, it’s possible to launch a live linear 24/7 stream with a reasonable budget and a small team.
With modern technology, it is relatively simple to deploy an OTT linear broadcast. As long as you have enough content, it’s perfectly reasonable for one or two people to coordinate and operate a 24/7 live streaming channel.
How to Do a 24/7 Live Stream in 5 Steps
Linear live streaming via OTT technology is commonly used by independent networks. This streaming setup can be used for news, sports, entertainment, and other similar types of content.
Let’s look at a few of the important steps for setting up 24/7 live streaming. In particular, we’ll review how to bypass common issues and ensure a smooth 24/7 stream for your viewers.
1. Choose the Best Online Video Platform
In order to launch a 24/7 live stream, you’ll need an online video platform or OVP for short.
Since not all OVPs support 24/7 live streaming or any live broadcasting at all, you’re going to want to make sure that you choose a plan from a solution that offers this support.
A surprising number of video platforms only offer tech support during business hours. For obvious reasons, this isn’t sufficient for a 24/7 live channel broadcaster. With live linear streaming, you can experience problems at any hour of the day. To bypass this issue, choose an OVP with 24/7 support to ensure help is there when you need it.
2. Consider Bandwidth Costs
Some streaming solutions offer bandwidth only at very high prices. Others include unlimited bandwidth but at high prices. This can make the ultimate live streaming pricing costs higher than a streaming platform with competitive per-GB pricing.
Look for a video host that is very inclusive in terms of bandwidth or that offers discounts when you buy bandwidth in bulk.
3. Explore Equipment Requirements and Redundancy
You also want to make sure your computer and all of the required live broadcasting software are up to date before starting a stream. A computer crashing or requiring a shutdown for software updates is generally unacceptable in a 24/7 production environment.
Given these uptime requirements, 24/7 linear broadcasters should plan on purchasing professional-grade equipment, including hardware encoders. This type of equipment is manufactured with higher tolerances and is suited for 24/7 streaming.
We also recommend that you consider implementing redundancy within your system.
For example, if a camera or encoder fails, you should have a backup already configured and ready to go. This will enable your tech team to quickly make any necessary changes (swapping cables, etc.) and ensure minimal disruption to your stream.
You can learn more about this in our guide to live streaming equipment.
4. Plan and Produce Video Content for Linear Live Streaming
The time-sensitive nature of 24-hours streams can put a lot of pressure on broadcasters. Every minute must be accounted for so that your viewers can tune in at any time and access whatever content they expected.
Plan out what content you’ll be broadcasting at each specific time. Create a plan to transition and flow gracefully from one program or segment to the next.
Traditionally, television networks run programs in half-hour and one-hour increments. You can follow this format or you can create something different. When it’s your channel, you have the flexibility to do what makes the most sense for your content and your audience.
There are two approaches to content for linear live streaming.
- Broadcast live video from a studio or other location (e.g., live TV news, talk shows, or sports)
- Broadcast previously recorded video on your linear live channel (e.g., most entertainment, reruns, etc.)
Either of these approaches is great. Live content can be engaging, but it also requires more upfront work and planning. Previously recorded content is easier to broadcast. Modern live streaming allows you to just queue up an MP4 file and let it play.
In reality, most broadcasters chose a mixture of these two approaches. They’ll broadcast live from important events and during “prime time” hours. Then, they’ll fill the remaining time with pre-recorded content, re-runs, etc.
In addition to keeping things straightened out on your end, having a solid plan makes it possible to publish schedules in advance. This way, if your viewer wants to see a specific segment or program on your channel, they will know exactly when to tune in.
5. Monetize Your 24-Hour Live Stream Linear Channel
In terms of video monetization, there are several ways to generate revenue from your 24/7 stream.
The best way to monetize your 24/7 stream would be with an ad-based video on demand. Advertising is driving major revenue for various streaming media publishers. This is the least complicated route to go.
Each of these options can be lucrative, especially if your continuous live channel includes streaming popular live events.
Tip for Successful Linear Live Streaming
Now that you know the basics of setting up a 24/7 stream, let’s take a look at a few ways to ensure success and to take your linear live streams to the next level.
Leverage Pre-Recorded Content
Although your linear live stream is airing live, it is totally possible to incorporate previously recorded live content. You can incorporate small clips or longer segments. You can truly go as far as your creativity allows.
This is especially helpful if you are using an anchor who presents for long periods of time. Mixing in some pre-recorded content gives them a moment to breathe off camera.
It’s important to emphasize how easy pre-recorded content makes it to stream 24/7. At the simplest, you could launch your own linear live channel with just an online video platform.
Using a platform like Dacast, you can launch 24/7 live streaming using channel playlists to queue up content that you already have pre-recorded with minimal effort. If you already have access to a substantial content library, you can launch a live linear channel within minutes.
Create a “Plan B”
So, you have a plan in place and all of your equipment set up. However, what happens when a camera breaks or an anchor gets sick? What if technical issues throw a wrench in your highly technical streaming process?
It is important to have a backup plan and backups of each essential piece of technology. Chargers and backup batteries are also a must.
Depending on the scale of your stream, it may be wise to have a generator on hand in the event of power outages. This is a large investment, so it makes more sense for larger organizations, like television stations.
Keep the Audience In Mind
Every move your make should be made with your viewers’ experience in mind. Prioritize keeping things seamless so that things flow in a fluid motion on your audience’s end. While many technological hiccups are unavoidable, do your best to minimize the preventable ones.
When it comes to broadcasting specific programs or segments, consider what times may be best for the specific demographic that you are trying to reach.
Additionally, keep your live streaming channel as accessible as possible. Make it easy to tune in.
As we’ve discussed, launching a 24/7 live streaming channel is now easier than ever before. With modern streaming technologies, it’s possible to launch a professional-grade 24/7 stream within a reasonable budget.
Anyone with a bit of technical knowledge or willingness to learn can begin broadcasting in no time. Since this industry is still on the rise, the opportunities are huge, whether in education, entertainment, sports, politics, news, and beyond.
If you’re ready for a professional-grade online video hosting platform for your 24/7 stream, Dacast is a great option to get started. Our hosting platform includes all of the features you need for a professional broadcasting experience.
Luckily, you don’t have to take our word for it. Take advantage of our 30-day free trial to test all of our powerful features. Sign up today to start your free trial. No credit card is required.
Do you have questions or comments about any of the topics introduced in this article? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.
And please reach out if we can help you plan and launch your linear live streaming channel. For exclusive offers and regular live streaming tips, you can also join our LinkedIn group.
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