Today, live video streaming is becoming increasingly mainstream. Apps like Periscope and Facebook Live have made it easier for anyone with a smartphone to start streaming. More importantly, the popularity of these apps has normalized the idea of live streaming video. Millions of people are now familiar with this type of content. Major corporations like Facebook and Google (Alphabet) are going all-in with live streaming video. Prominent tech figures like Mark Zuckerberg describe themselves as “obsessed” with live video.
This growing ubiquity represents an opportunity for other businesses. Live video can be a powerful tool. Whether for marketing, sales, training, entertainment, or media, live video is a compelling technology.
In this article, we’ll look at two of the biggest social media video platforms out there: YouTube Live vs Facebook Live. First, we’ll explore these platforms, their features, and the pros and cons of each. Then, we’ll compare YouTube Live vs Facebook Live to online video platforms aimed at more professional users.
YouTube Live vs Facebook Live: FB Live Review
About Facebook Live streaming
It has been 2 years now that live video is now possible with Facebook. In a short time, many users have already widely adopted this feature. Many people use Facebook regularly, so sharing and watching video content is a natural extension of the service. Some streams reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of visitors.
How Facebook Live works
Using the Facebook Live streaming service is simple.
On mobile devices, starting a live stream involves using the Facebook app. All you have to do is open your app, then tap on the status input area labeled “what’s on your mind?”
The screen that opens displays an icon on the bottom right.
Tap that button and you have option to start a live stream. You can then give a description to your live video and choose a target audience if you wish. From there, a single tap lets you go live.
On desktop, live streaming via Facebook Live is a bit more complex. First of all, you can only live stream from a Facebook Page using a desktop or laptop computer. Streaming from your personal profile is not (yet) possible. You’ll need live stream encoding software, such as OBS, to make this work.
Set up your encoder software using the following settings:
- Video bit rate: no higher 2500 Kbps
- Resolution: no higher than 1280 x 720
- Frames per second: 30
- Select the appropriate video and audio sources
After you set up your encoding software, visit your page and click on the tab labeled “Publishing Tools.” On this page, click the option labeled “Video” and then click “Live.” From here, you can enter the “stream key” and/or “stream URL” that generate into your encoder. Enter a description on the next page. Finally, click “Go Live” to begin streaming.
Facebook Live pros and cons
The main upside of streaming live on Facebook is the built-in audience. If you’ve invested time in building a social media following, it’s a no-brainer. Additionally, the service is sufficiently powerful. With the Facebook Live API, you can stream from high-quality compatible cameras for live streaming. Finally, the video API allows you to integrate with existing workflows.
However, when comparing YouTube Live vs Facebook Live it’s important to consider any drawbacks. In our own research and trials, we discovered some major downsides to Facebook Live.
One of the main drawbacks is that users cannot index Facebook Live video content. That means that search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo don’t ever “find” Facebook posts. This limitation includes live and archived videos.
You can search for the content within Facebook itself, but searching inside the platform isn’t very useful. It’s a confusing interface compared to YouTube, Google, and other search engines. Finding posts, especially if they are older, is nearly impossible.
This is a major drawback when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization). Facebook content simply won’t rank on a search engine. Unless you can generate a large audience on Facebook spontaneously, your content is unlikely to find traction among viewers after-the-fact.
Another drawback of Facebook Live is that the maximum supported resolution is only 720p HD. This is not full high-definition. Additionally, the maximum supported bit rate is only 2500 Kbps, which isn’t very high. Other limitations include a maximum video length of 90 minutes. This threshold is overly restrictive for many users.
Additionally, Facebook Live doesn’t support the following useful live video features:
- Access and security restrictions
- Multiple simultaneous live streams
YouTube Live vs Facebook Live: YouTube Live Review
About YouTube Live streaming
Let’s continue with our comparison of YouTube Live vs Facebook Live. The YouTube Live service comes from another tech behemoth: Google. YouTube Live is a basic live streaming service, but it offers more functionality than Facebook Live.
How YouTube Live streaming works
To live stream on YouTube, you need a few things. First, you need a YouTube/Google account. Second, you need to “verify” your account. Note that if you want to embed your stream on an external site, you need to link an approved AdSense account to your YouTube account.
Once you have met these qualifications, there are two ways to get started. “Stream now” is a fast and easy way to begin streaming. This method allows you to use your webcam or other connected camera.
Alternatively, “Events” allow you to pre-schedule a live event, invite people in advance, set up backup streams, and so on. “Events” also enable you to use higher-quality cameras connected to encoders.
YouTube Live pros and cons
When comparing YouTube Live vs Facebook Live, YouTube wins out in terms of searchability and SEO. In the first place, YouTube videos show up in search results. That just isn’t the case with video on Facebook. Since YouTube is a Google-owned business, videos tend to rank relatively high. Even Bing, Yahoo, and other engines rank videos highly in search results.
Finding videos on YouTube is also easier than on Facebook. The search functionality is much more powerful. In general, YouTube strives to make videos available forever. Facebook content is technically available forever, but it’s strongly biased toward finding of-the-moment material. Hence, the timeline design.
The service also has a YouTube Live API that allows for programmatic access to their live streaming service. This makes it easy to stream live on YouTube while streaming on other services. Users can also integrate apps with YouTube live streams.
There are a few major drawbacks when it comes to YouTube Live, however. First, you give up control of your own content. Anytime you broadcast or upload content via YouTube, it gains access to use your material in its own advertising. This is a big drawback for many users. For example, with a free B2B platform like YouTube Live, you can’t stream live video on your website, while maintaining control of your video content and your brand, like you can with professional-grade B2C platforms (e.g., DaCast, IBM Cloud Video, etc.).
Additionally, YouTube is one of the most-blocked websites in the world, especially in businesses and schools. This is also true of Facebook. Your content isn’t worth anything if your target audience is unable to access it. If you’re seeking streaming solutions for your business or school, you’ll likely need to look elsewhere.
Types of Live Streaming Platforms
YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and other social platforms are undoubtedly popular. However, they’re far from the only providers in the live streaming market. As our reviews of YouTube Live vs Facebook Live show, it’s worth spending some time to choose the right streaming platform for you. Other live streaming service providers will often give more features and functionality. For many reasons, professional users often prefer other video streaming solutions.
Why use a professional live streaming video host?
For people who are looking for a more professional appearance, social streaming platforms aren’t the best fit.
For example, a company that live streams an event may want to monetize its stream. A university may want to stream multiple lectures simultaneously. Businesses, universities, social organizations, and media channels often fall into these situations. Likewise, video streaming services for faith and religion-based groups will need to look beyond social streaming platforms. As mentioned above, a professional live streaming video host is also ideal if you want to stream live video on your website. And this is where features offered specifically by video platforms come into play.
These features include the ability to:
- Monetize broadcasts in various fashions
- Broadcast with no competing branding
- Restrict access to certain geographic locations or IP ranges
- Use custom video players
- Stream multiple events concurrently
- Maintain all rights to broadcast content
- Access dedicated tech support
These features, among others, define a comprehensive live streaming platform. To guarantee these features, most dedicated streaming providers charge for their services. Typically there’s a wide range in pricing plans. Some services are aimed at large businesses, while others are more affordable for smaller businesses or individuals. Though Facebook and YouTube are free, they simply can’t compete when it comes to functionality.
Next, let’s take a quick look at several of the top live video streaming platforms on the market.
IBM Cloud Video live video service provider
One of the most popular live video hosts is IBM Cloud Video (formerly UStream). Since launching in 2007 (as UStream), IBM Cloud Video has since become a solid player in the field of streaming video. Features include security restrictions, embedding, playlists, and social sharing. The IBM Cloud Video platform also supports marketing integration, lead capture, and analytics.
IBM Cloud Video API
IBM Cloud Video includes an API for broadcasters to control and integrate their content. It also features a Player API and Channel API that support customization. Finally, IBM Cloud Video includes various development tools to speed up new projects.
IBM Cloud Video Pricing
- Free trial account is ad-supported and includes testing of all the Pro features.
- Professional accounts begin at $99 per month, include 100+ viewer-hours, and support 720p HD video resolution.
- More high-end features, such as white-label service and geo restriction, kick in at $999 per month.
- Custom Enterprise plans include full HD broadcasting and other features. These plans are custom-priced.
Vimeo (Livestream) video services
Another alternative provider is Vimeo (Livestream). Formerly known only as Livestream, Vimeo acquired the company in 2017. Since then, Vimeo has merged its services and website with Livestream. Today, this business has a unique focus on full end-to-end integration. Vimeo (Livestream) sells a number of hardware tools such as encoders and cameras that can function with this streaming service natively.
Other Vimeo (Livestream) features include tracking, analytics, and production support. However, white-label streaming, live transcoding, and password protection are only available starting at the $999/month plan level.
Vimeo (Livestream) API
API functionality on Vimeo (Livestream) exists in three categories: API tools, Player API, and Channel API. These allow you to customize, control, and modify your content. They also facilitate custom programming and integration.
Vimeo (Livestream) Pricing
- Pricing starts at $75 per month billed annually, or $199 billed month-to-month, for the Premium plan (which has limited features).
- For security features, white-label branding control, pay-per-view monetization, and 24/7 streaming, you’ll need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan, which starts at $999 per month.
Brightcove live streaming video host
Another popular platform is Brightcove. This provider primarily serves mid to large-sized businesses with an array of services. These include video monetization and transcoding. Brightcove is especially focused on media and TV providers. It offers support for OTT (Over the Top) content and TVE (TV Everywhere) technology.
Other great Brightcove features include the ability to bypass ad blockers and capture leads via popup forms inside the video window. Additionally, Brightcove offers powerful video marketing integrations with widely used platforms like Salesforce.
There are a number of APIs for the Brightcove platform. These include the Media API, which allows you to interact with your library. Additional APIs support the other Brightcove product categories. Comprehensive documentation is available on all of these.
Brightcove’s Enterprise plan starts at $499 per month and includes secure video playback and live streaming. It also offers custom plans that include monetization. However, you need to contact Brightcove directly to inquire about pricing for these plans. The cheaper Marketing plans do not include any live streaming. Overall, this platform centers on on large businesses willing to commit significant financial resources.
Wowza video hosting
Wowza is an interesting company that offers two main products. The first is Wowza Streaming Cloud, a cloud-based live streaming service. Features include support for 4K streaming, white-label service, and security controls.
The second Wowza offering is the Wowza Streaming Engine software. This package allows you to set up your own streaming platform on your servers using the same software on the cloud platform. It’s not the same type of service as the other things we’re covering here. However, it is useful for some specific users.
Wowza has a number of APIs in Java and REST to build infrastructure around their streaming platform. These include a server-side API for the Wowza Streaming Engine. This API integrates with databases, storage, web servers, and external processing.
Wowza Streaming Cloud Event-Based Pricing
- Standard plan: $199 per month for 3 TB (3,000 GB) bandwidth and 50 processing hours.
- Plus plan: $499 per month for 7 TB bandwidth and 150 processing hours.
- Premier plan: $999 per month for 15 TB and 350 processing hours.
Wowza’s basic plan includes extremely limited viewer hours, and none of their plans support pay-per-view.
DaCast video streaming as a service
Finally, the last platform we’ll highlight here is DaCast, our own live streaming solution. Based in San Francisco, DaCast bills itself as a “Streaming as a Service” provider. Like the other video hosts highlighted here, DaCast also offers on-demand video hosting.
The best features of DaCast include easy live streaming and ad-free, white label service at all plan levels. Technical support is available 24/7 at all plan levels. All DaCast broadcasts use the tier-one live streaming CDN (content delivery network) from Akamai. Akamai is the largest network of its kind globally.
DaCast video API and SDKs (security development kits) allow users to integrate their platforms with current workflows or create their own applications. Security options allow users to restrict access to content in various ways.
DaCast Pricing (when billed annually)
- Starter Plan: $19 per month, 100 GB of bandwidth, 20 GB of storage.
- Premium Plan: $125 per month, 2 TB of bandwidth, 200 GB of storage. This pricing level adds phone support and chapter markers for VODs.
- Custom Plans: For high-volume streaming needs, contact DaCast directly to customize a plan that’s right for you!
All DaCast plans offer the same features, except for phone support, API access, and M3u8 links for live channels. These features aren’t available in starter plans. Users can also opt to pay monthly, at slightly higher rates.
Advantages of these platforms
When comparing YouTube Live vs Facebook Live to live streaming platforms, the alternatives are much more powerful. The ability to perform video streaming in a white-label fashion is a professional necessity. This and other features make these platforms more attractive to professionals. For businesses and individuals hoping to generate revenue, paywalls and flexible advertising models are essential components of live video.
All of the providers listed above offer free trials so that users can test out the service and find the best fit for their needs.
In this article, we’ve compared the social media live streaming platforms YouTube Live vs Facebook Live. These services are free and offer some useful capabilities. However, they have substantial drawbacks. For many users, they’re just not professional or feature-rich enough to get the job done.
Many find a good alternative to the YouTube Live vs Facebook Live dilemma, with platforms like Wowza, DaCast, IBM Cloud Video, Vimeo (Livestream), or Brightcove. These professional service providers offer a much more robust platform for video streaming and broadcasts. You have to pay for that functionality, but it’ll likely be well worth the cost to a discerning user. This is especially true for the more affordable platforms.
We hope this article has helped you to understand the differences between these platforms. We also hope its useful to you when deciding on the best platform for you. Check out our other blog posts for more comparisons between these different platforms. For regular tips and exclusive offers, join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live streaming!
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By Max Wilbert.