In the past, broadcasting live video feeds of events were available only to those who could afford expensive television equipment and licensing. But today, all of this is changing. Nowadays, the options for live event broadcasting are varied and more accessible. Among these options is the ability to stream live video on a website–easily and at high quality!
Thanks in part to the prevalence of broadband internet, live streaming is now highly popular. This popularity also stems from the market penetration of handheld devices with high-speed connections over cell networks, as well as advancements in video technology. As a direct result, live broadcasting is now more accessible to organizations of all sizes–and even to individuals. Furthermore, live streaming platforms on the market range from free to quite costly. And this means that broadcasters need to do their homework to select the best pricing plan for their needs.
In this article, we explain the basics of how to stream live video on a website. We also review other information you’ll need to begin broadcasting your content live. Our goal is to help you feel confident to stream live video on a website in relatively few steps. Here’s an overview of the topics we explore below:
- Understanding Live Streaming Basics
- Live Streaming Equipment
- Encoding for the Web
- Live Streaming Software
- Serving Your Content Via a live streaming platform
- Stream live video on a Website
Understanding Live Streaming Basics
Put simply, live streaming involves transmitting video or audio in real-time over the internet. In its most basic form, the use of a webcam to broadcast via YouTube Live Events constitutes live streaming.
However, most businesses and organizations want–and need!–more control and higher quality content than basic free platforms can offer. For example, you may want to easily stream live video on your website that you host yourself. Likewise, you may require white-label and external branding-free content for your viewers. Especially if your goal is to generate revenue from your stream, you may want to be able to add and promote your own branding when you are streaming live video on a website you manage.
Thankfully, more advanced live streaming is relatively easy to achieve with professional and affordable streaming solutions, such as the Dacast platform. However, this caliber of live streaming does require some specialized equipment and software, which we’ll take a look at next.
Live Streaming Equipment
The most important basic piece of live streaming equipment you need for broadcasting is a camera. (Of course, if you’re doing audio-only streaming, you just need a microphone.) Full 1080p high definition video cameras are cheaper than ever before. Nowadays, HD video cameras come in a range of prices and styles for diverse needs and budgets. You can check out our list of compatible cameras for live streaming if you’re not sure where to start.
Generally speaking, a camera in the $300 – $500 range will provide excellent quality and last for quite a while. However, here’s one factor to keep in mind while budgeting. Depending on the nature of your events, you may need multiple cameras, or different styles of microphones, to capture high-quality audio feed. Cameras also range in terms of ease of use. For example, a webcam is much easier than a pro camera to stream live video on a website. Why? A professional camera often requires a video capture card, which allows viewers to access your content online.
You’ll also need accessories like memory cards, batteries, and a tripod for your camera. A good source for all this equipment is B&H Photo Video. Of course, there are many other viable options on the market.
Let’s say you’ve chosen and set up working broadcasting equipment. What’s next? The next step is to choose a way to encode your video for the internet.
Encoding For the Web
Unlike television, which has a constant and standard quality, live streaming must contend with internet connections that aren’t perfect or constant. As you’re likely aware, cell phones go in and out of service and wi-fi connections can be unreliable. Likewise, service speeds for many internet service providers go down when high numbers of people in one area use the internet intensively at the same time.
In order to successfully stream live video on a website, this kind of broadcasting requires special protocols that can handle variable bandwidth situations. These streaming protocols are different than the formats used by video cameras, which are optimized for recording and not for broadcasting over the internet.
For this reason, the most important and unusual aspect of a live streaming setup is an encoder: either a hardware device or software package that converts your video to a live streaming format in near real-time. An encoder generally converts your content to RTMP. From there, your streaming platform (i.e. Dacast) might convert the content to another format like HLS or HDS.
The most robust option for encoding is called a hardware encoder. These dedicated devices can live stream for days on end without, in theory, any glitches. In reality, the main benefit of using a hardware encoder is that you rely on a system designed for live streaming and only live streaming. This means that you don’t have to worry about a virus scanner or something else eating away at your CPU during a broadcast. Hardware encoders can be expensive, but–in terms of the highest broadcast quality and reliability–they can’t be beaten!
Live Streaming Software
If you’re looking for an alternative to stream live video on a website, there are several live streaming software options to choose from. The process starts with the right software encoder which takes the information from your camera and converts it into a new format. The most popular open-source encoding software is Open Broadcaster Software or OBS. As the name implies, the software is open source and therefore is free, but there are other encoding software options that have pricing plans.
Why go with a paid option? The primary reason is that those software options are more feature-rich. For example, if you need to use multiple cameras, Wirecast or vMix might be your answer. In fact, a lot of the paid software solutions surpass their hardware counterparts for features. You can check out this Dacast article about the best encoding software settings if you’re interested to learn more.
Serving Your Content Via a Video Host
Whichever type of encoder you choose, you’ll need to connect it to an online infrastructure that can deliver your live stream to your audience.
It takes a robust, geographically distributed network of servers to send live video to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of viewers. That’s where a live streaming video host provider–such as Dacast–comes in. Video streaming platforms provide a dedicated system to encode your live stream in a variety of formats. Once encoded, the platform can serve it to different devices rapidly and smoothly.
The right host makes it easy to stream live video on a website. A good streaming service includes online configuration tools that enable content security, the embedding of your streams on websites, revenue-generating via a pay-per-view system, etc. And if you have specific business needs, for example, China video hosting, make sure your streaming solution supports this before committing.
No matter which host you choose, you’ll need a relatively fast internet connection to do secure video upload of your live content to its system. Dacast recommends a minimum upload speed of 1 Mbps, but upload speeds of at least 2-5 Mbps are recommended for better quality. Basically, the higher the bitrate at which you stream, the higher the internet connection you need. Dacast, among other streaming platforms, also supports multi-bitrate streaming. This is ideal if you want to stream live video on a website to viewers with disparate or inconsistent internet speeds. You can test your internet speed at testmy.net.
How to Stream Live Video on a Website
Finally, we’ve made it to the final topic of this article–how to stream live video on a website you manage! Once you complete this step, you’ll be ready to begin your broadcast at any time.
By default, online video platforms like Dacast host your broadcasts on their own website at a special, dedicated URL. This URL and access to your content is completely private until you choose to share it with your viewers. Most people who stream live video want to put their broadcast on a page of their own website. We’ll end by covering what that process entails.
Part I: Embedding Your Video Content
Once you’ve connected your camera and encoder to your live stream video host, the website of your host (i.e. Dacast) provides the tools you need to embed your video content on your own website. Usually, this requires that you first create an “event” or “channel” on the host website.
Once you have created a channel, you can now access options to stream live video on a website. Under your channel settings within your Dacast account, you’ll find a block of HTML code for your website.
Part II: Stream Live Video on a Website
Once you’ve selected and copied the HTML code, visit your website. Once there, enter a code view or create an HTML element. Paste your code onto a new line, and you should be ready to go! Make sure to test your page as a viewer before you go live. Dacast also makes it easy to embed your video on Twitter or Facebook by providing a dedicated share code for that purpose.
And that’s it! If you’ve made it through the above steps, you can now stream live video on a website you manage yourself.
Looking for more live streaming tips and exclusive offers? Why not join our LinkedIn group? After reading this article, do you feel ready to give the Dacast platform a try? If so, we invite you to sign up for our 30-day free trial (no credit card required). Once you sign up, you can test out all our great features for yourself at no cost to you.
Thanks for reading, and let us know your questions and feedback in the comment section below. We love to hear from our readers!
By Max Wilbert.
*Note to our readers: We have updated this article to reflect the latest information as of March 2019.