Streaming video online has become an approachable and relevant avenue for businesses. When streaming live video over the internet started, it seemed complex and didn’t seem to provide businesses with enough ROI. But with robust streaming solutions being readily available to new and experienced broadcasters, that’s changed now.
Online video is growing explosively. Hours spent viewing online videos grew 114% in 2018 compared to the same time the previous year. And live streaming is making up an increasingly large portion of that content. Are you ready to take on live streaming in 2020?
In this article, we’ll be diving deep into live streaming video online for business purposes. We’ll explain every aspect of video streaming and how to make it successful for your company.
We’ll be addressing…
- What is video streaming + how does it work
- Decoders and Content Delivery Networks
- Why + How to stream video online
- Live streaming market segments
- Low latency streaming
- Best practices for live video streaming in 2020
- Success stories from businesses using live streaming
- Final thoughts
What is video streaming?
Before we dive into the depths of live video streaming, it’s important we do a refresher on what streaming is. While the basis of video streaming has remained the same, a couple of things have improved for 2020.
There are a couple of different ways to stream video:
- Streaming – This type means that a video was shot and produced and then uploaded to a video hosting platform.
- Live streaming – This type of streaming is when a video is recorded and broadcasted in real-time.
- VOD – Video-on-demand streaming is when the user chooses what content they want to watch on-demand. Similar to Netflix or Hulu.
Live video streaming
Streaming live video can be useful for a lot of things. Consider a sports game, a church service or a technology product event. While the people in attendance will enjoy the event, there will be people who won’t be able to attend. Live streaming a feed of the event is a great way to get more attraction to the event. This is the core of live video streaming.
How does it work?
Later on in this article, we’ll discuss how to stream live video for your business. But, before that, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how it works. In order to stream video over the internet, you should understand how it’s possible.
Streaming live video over the internet uses cameras, audio, a switcher and an encoder. A switcher adds the audio from a sound mixer into the final output signal. The encoder can be a stand-alone appliance or built into a camera. It compresses the video to meet video and streaming standards. The streaming industry standard is H.264. While you can use your mobile phone as an encoder for both video and audio, we recommend a dedicated hardware encoder. This will make for a higher-quality picture. You can either choose between a software encoder, which is an installed application that uses a computer’s resources to package the video and audio and send it online. Or, you can use a hardware encoder, which is a dedicated device that handles all forms of encoding.
Decoder settings to know.
Understanding a decoder’s settings is what will make your video shine online. Here are a couple of settings to familiarize yourself with:
- Frame rate – How many rates per second are installed. 30-60 fps is ideal.
- Output resolution – Size of the video frame. Width x Height in pixels. 1080p or 1920 x 1080 is Full HD.
- Bitrate – How much video data you’re uploading per second. The general range is 1000-8000 kbps.
After the video has been encoded, it’s packaged into a real-time transfer protocol (RTP) for delivery to the worldwide web. Once the packaging is complete, the stream is either pulled or pushed to a media server. A media server is a key step because it allows every viewer to see the optimal version of your stream. It adapts your video to their device for their best viewing pleasure.
Choosing the right content delivery network.
Once your video has gone through the process getting it ready for the web, it’s time to choose the right content delivery network (CDN). A CDN can deliver the fastest possible speeds and the best quality content to viewers around the world.
At Dacast, we recommend the Akamai server network. Akamai maintains the largest CDN in the world, with more than 216,000 servers as of 2017. These servers exist in over 130 countries and within some 1,500 discrete networks.
Why & how to stream live video over the internet as a business
In 2020, there is a wide range of streaming solutions to meet business broadcasting needs. That said, what can live broadcasting on the internet do for you?
The answer lays on who is watching your live content. Starting in 2015, young millennials (ages 14-25) began watching more videos online via digital devices than on television. 30% of people say they’d cut the cable cord if they knew they could stream all of their content online, with a high-quality picture.
How to stream live for businesses
In the words of Neil Patel, “Live video commands the attention of the business world.” In a similar vein, projections show that the live streaming market worldwide is projected to grow to $70.05 Billion by 2021. 76.5% of small business owners get results with video marketing. In 2020, 92% of marketers say that video is an important part of their marketing strategy for businesses. This has grown from 78% in 2015.
Many businesses find that streaming live video can be very profitable. In fact, the video streaming market is predicted to be worth $70.5 billion by 2021. Live streaming is making up the majority of that growth.
This year, more than 64 million U.S. households use Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming services, which often include live video. Worldwide OTT revenue was roughly $68 billion in 2018. That was a 33% jump compared to 2017.
To bring it back to today, experts predict that the number will rise to $83.4 billion by 2022.
Most OTT content is monetized via subscriptions similar to Netflix. However, advertising is another popular way to monetize live video. By the third quarter of 2015, year-over-year ad views had increased 113 % for live video. Since then, these numbers have continued to rise rapidly.
Live streaming market segments
All sorts of OTT, media, and entertainment businesses are getting involved in live streaming video. In the sports world, companies like DAZN have moved from filming in the stands to making billion-dollar deals with sports leagues.
Online video streaming has also become increasingly popular for:
Using modern technology, you can reach a global audience instantly. Live video streaming is easier, more affordable, and requires less equipment compared to even a couple of years ago. Almost anyone can watch live from anywhere in the world with the only real barriers being language and time zones.
Let’s look at three elements of how to stream live video over the internet: equipment, hosting and delivery, and workflow.
1. The necessary streaming equipment
To set up a basic live stream requires just a few pieces of equipment. You’ll need a camera, a microphone, an internet connection, and an encoder. An encoder is a software or hardware device that transcodes a video into a format suitable for live streaming.
You don’t need to go and spend thousands of dollars on this equipment if your business is just starting out with streaming video online. At the most basic level, a smartphone or tablet can fulfill these requirements in one device. But please note, the quality of this sort of live stream can suffer. For that reason, higher-quality live streams often are set up using higher-quality gear:
- A computer with encoding software
- Multiple stand-alone cameras (Two cameras provide for different angles)
- Multiple microphones (lav, shotgun, and other professional mics will provide better audio quality)
- High-speed internet connection (a wired connection will provide higher speeds)
2. Hosting and delivery
The dedicated online video streaming service you choose will provide a network of computer servers that will store your video on their disks. It also provides a robust network connection so that your viewers can access the videos quickly and easily without any network lag.
Professional video hosting solutions can offer complete live streaming solutions suitable for business use. These video hosting for business services include the ability to:
- Stream from multiple cameras
- Stream in HD resolution
- Embed live streams on your website or social media platforms
- Charge for access
Here at Dacast, we offer the following functionality to our users:
- White-label video streaming solutions (custom branding) across the platform
- Video monetization
- Video security and privacy settings
- Video API access for customization and development
- Player API and SDKs for mobile app creation
Hosting your videos yourself on platforms like YouTube is an option. But before you consider this, think about the amount of time, money and commitment it will take to host videos online. If you know you have bigger business problems to solve, dedicated video hosting platforms for business will be your answer. They provide speed, consistency, and security for every video uploaded to the platform. Not all of these features are available on free and pubic platforms like YouTube.
You can follow this workflow process to set up a live stream successfully. You may need to modify it for your specific circumstances. Nevertheless, the basic principles still hold relevant for most streaming scenarios.
- On location, set up your cameras and microphones. We always recommend using tripods for stability.
- Choose a central location for your encoding/mixing to take place. Set up your computer at this location. Your engineer should reside here to control the broadcast, as well as switch between different camera angles, initiating graphics and animations, etc.
- Run cables to connect all your equipment. Now, turn everything on and make sure it is functioning properly.
- Choose the correct encoder settings for your broadcast.
- Connect your encoder to your online video platform via the settings menu. Here are instructions for the Dacast platform.
- Finally, set up a test live stream, and broadcast it (privately). Ensure that video, audio, and streaming settings are all correct.
- Embed your live stream video player on your website, and anywhere else you want to broadcast.
- You’re ready to go! Launch your live stream whenever you’re ready.
Low latency streaming
Latency is important for video streaming as well as the overall user experience. Low latency streaming is a very critical piece to streaming video to a wide range of broadcasters. If your content lags and doesn’t show for a matter of 30 seconds for a viewer, they will most likely exit out of your stream and search for a better one.
If you want access to a high-performance low latency video streaming solution, look for HLS based streaming.
1. HLS Streaming
HLS Streaming stands for HTTP live streaming. It’s a media streaming protocol for delivering visual and audio media to viewers over the internet. Most HLS streaming starts with a Real-Time Messaging Protocol) RTMP live stream that is automatically converted to HLS for delivery by the video platform provider. This provides a high-quality stream for viewers with a latency of 30 seconds or more. In the past, RTMP was the default video streaming method. But now it’s HLS Streaming.
By contrast, HLS ingest live streaming (in other words, a stream that begins and ends in the HLS format) can reduce latency to around 10 seconds or less.
Dacast launched HLS Direct, an end-to-end low latency live streaming solution in 2018. Since then, it’s grown in popularity. This type of low latency live streaming guarantees viewers much lower latency while maintaining compatibility with all devices and a high-quality stream.
2. All-device HTML5 Video Player
HTML5 video streaming enables the manipulation of multimedia content using <audio> and <video> HTML tags. When you use the video tag, you’re able to create a native HTML5 video player, which allows additional options for customizing and displaying video content. HTML tags have various attributes, or parameters, which provide further detail on how to present the content. For example, with the <img> tag, you can specify the size of the image.
Before HTML5, websites relied on embedded flash players to display video to users. Now, HTML5 allows videos to be streamed on all types of devices.
This is the technology that Dacast uses. It utilizes low latency as well as HLS. Our HTML5 video player is based on THEOplayer’s technology for maximum compatibility and flexibility for businesses.
Best practices and tips for live broadcasts in 2020
Here are four major tips to follow when figuring out how to stream video online.
- HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is currently the dominant streaming video format. That’s partly because HLS is a mobile-native format. Real-time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) delivery to the streaming host is still common and the most compatible method.
- Building mobile apps has the potential to grow your subscriber base hugely. In fact, you can use Dacast APIs and SDKs to build mobile apps easily.
- For now, the H.264 codec is the standard for online video. With that in mind, we recommend streaming using H.264. Successors—HEVC/H.265, AV1, and VVC—are either not commercially viable or not yet ready for use.
- Test, test, test – Don’t wait until your live video stream is about to take place to test your configuration. Schedule time for testing beforehand at a couple of different times.
What to pay attention to
- Your internet upload speed – As a broadcaster, it’s important to ensure you maintain a good network for your live stream. Whether you’re using wifi or a cabled connection, keep track of your upload speed. You can read more about minimum bandwidth requirements, here.
- Promotion – If no one knows about your live stream, you won’t have an audience. It’s critical to promote your live stream before it happens. Create social posts around it, send out a newsletter, write a blog post on it, create a Google ad campaign. Do whatever you have to do to make sure you will have an audience.
- An engagement plan – A live video is a great way to create interaction between the business streaming the video and the audience. If you’re adding a comment section or forum, create an engagement plan to prepare for audience questions. Nothing looks worse than no engagement from the video streamer to their audience.
Live streaming case studies
Here at Dacast, we help thousands of people and organizations learn how to stream live video over the internet. Our users range from individuals to major global brands. Below are a few case studies of how businesses are using Dacast to host and deliver their video content. If you’re interested, click the links to learn more.
- 1545 Media provides live streaming services and video production to major clients including Kaiser-Permanente, Unilever, and LA Fitness—all via Dacast.
- Striv provides live streaming services to a network of schools across the US Midwest region, powered by the Dacast network.
- MorningCME is an educational business that provides video training to doctors, EMTs, and other medical professionals.
- SMSA Church live streams liturgies, weddings, and other important services to their congregation.
We hope this information provides useful examples of how businesses use live video today. You can access many more Dacast customer success stories, here. We’re here to get you and your business into the streaming market today!
We hope this article has answered all your questions around live streaming video for your business. You now know all the steps to take to create a successful live streaming strategy. You know what equipment to use, what hosting services to sign up for and all the best practices in 2020.
If you’re ready to start live streaming video, ensure that you’re fully prepared. That you’ve tested your stream countless times and that everything is in check before hitting record.
Dacast provides a fast, secure live streaming service to a wide range of businesses. Are you ready to try out our live streaming solutions? Click below to begin the sign-up process for our 30-day free trial. No credit card is required. If you’re not interested after the trial, let the 30 days run its’ course and we’ll handle the rest as you haven’t inputted any financial information.
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