With fast internet bandwidth becoming more accessible for everyone, live video broadcasts are now everywhere. Throughout 2020, along with the COVID-
16 pandemic and stay-at-home periods, we’ve also seen a dramatic increase in live video consumption, although we have also seen a 93% growth of live video streaming between 2018 and 2019.
There’s no doubt that live video broadcast will only grow to be even bigger in the years to come, so if you are planning to finally start broadcasting your live video, there has never been a better time.
While it’s understandable that the idea of broadcasting live video over the internet might seem intimidating at first, especially if you are a beginner, actually the process isn’t that complicated.
Here, we will discuss how we can effectively broadcast live video over the internet with just four core elements, and without further ado, let us begin.
As discussed, setting up a live internet broadcast is actually pretty simple, and there are only four core elements to prepare:
- Video/audio sources: cameras are your typical video sources, same with microphones for audio sources. However, music files on your computer can also be a valid audio source, as well as an image/video file for a video source.
- Streaming platform: you can certainly build your own platform if you have the know-how, but most of us will use platforms like YouTube or Facebook to stream our live broadcast, or a professional internet TV broadcast software like Viloud if you want more versatility.
- Encoder: an encoder is a very important aspect of live streaming, which will encode the video files produced by your camera into a stream-friendly format. Without a proper encoder, your viewer won’t get a reliable streaming experience.
- Internet connection: pretty self-explanatory. Since you are going to broadcast your live video over the internet, then a fast enough and stable internet connection is a must.
Below, we will discuss each of these four more thoroughly.
In a live broadcast, your video source can be:
- Your computer’s webcam
- A camcorder
- Your smartphone’s camera
- A computer screen (with screen capture software)
- A professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless camera
We’d recommend getting a decent enough DSLR camera, many of them are pretty affordable at the moment. Also, think about redundancy, so you might want to at least get two cameras of similar quality.
It’s important to understand that in a live broadcast, audio quality is more important than video quality. So, don't underestimate the importance of getting at least one proper microphone. There are now very good-quality USB microphones that are priced below $500. USB connectivity also means you won’t need a capture card if you decide to use a software encoder (more on this below).
While the technicalities can be a little complex, your camera doesn’t actually save your videos in a video format, but rather continuous image files. An encoder’s job is to encode these series of images into a single video file format that is stream-friendly.
You can choose between software and hardware encoders:
- Hardware: a dedicated physical device, they are typically more reliable and can produce lower latency, but as you might have guessed they are typically more expensive.
- Software: software or app that runs on a computer (or your smartphone/tablet). They are much more affordable and there are even free options like OBS that are pretty decent. However, they aren’t as reliable and you’ll need a computer with a capture card to connect your cameras and microphones.
There are various encoder products available on the market, and generally, when choosing between these different products, you should consider the right balance between frame rate, resolution, and bitrate to ensure quality.
In broadcasting live video over the internet, you have three different streaming destination options:
- Building your own video hosting and player and a website. You’ll get the most versatility with this approach, but this is the most time-consuming and expensive. You’ll either need to have the programming know-how or hire a developer
- Using free platforms. You can technically start your TV channel on free platforms like Facebook, YouTube, or others. You won’t get much freedom in branding and monetization, but it is the easiest and the most accessible option.
- Using professional video hosting platforms: Professional hosting platforms like Viloud allow you the most freedom in applying your custom branding and you can monetize your channel however you want it.
If you are really serious about starting your online TV channel, then we’d recommend using a professional hosting platform so you can get the most versatility in broadcasting your content, branding your website/player, and monetizing your content.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a fast and reliable internet connection in broadcasting your live video.
As a general rule of thumb, your internet bandwidth should be at least 1.5 times of your live broadcast’s target bitrate. If, for example, your target bitrate is 5 Mbps, then you’ll need at least 7.5 Mbps of bandwidth.
Find the most reliable internet provider in your area that can cover your bandwidth needs depending on the above calculation.
Once you’ve tackled the four core aspects we have covered above, then you are ready to start broadcasting your live video over the internet right away. The right equipment, the right video hosting service, and a reliable internet connection are your secrets in attracting more viewers and growing your audience base.