On this week's Creator's Tip we discuss the benefits, as well as the challenges, of live-streaming video. The barriers to entry for live-streaming have never been lower, and it's easier than ever to broadcast a live event out to an engaged audience. But even though equipment is less expensive, and events can be live-streamed for a very reasonable cost, there are still many factors that need to be considered before embarking on such a project.

Live streaming includes the onsite video production, live encoding, transmission or distribution to the viewers, and the web development or player consideration so the user can view the stream. For each live streaming format and protocol you chose to encode - the viewers must have a compatible and capable device or player to view that stream.

At ReelSummit 2014, we were joined by live-streaming expert Bern Rexer of mxpi.com. Bern is a consultant who helps many brands and companies host live events, and he talked us through the pros and cons of broadcasting live.

Benefits of Live-streaming Branded Video Content

Live-streamed content is a very valuable commodity, and it's definitely worth investing in for a number of different reasons.

  • It can be very engaging
  • You are reaching out to a real-time audience who have opted-in to watch
  • You can control your message
  • It can lead to a longer view-time than some on-demand video content
  • Platforms like Hangouts on Air can lead to an engaged audience sharing that content
  • You can mine real-time stats to see how that content is performing for you as it airs

For the simplest most cost effect way to broadcast live, Bern suggests: YouTube's Hangouts on Air, as well as Livestream and Ustream's mobile apps. But there are many other solutions and methods available for larger budgets and advanced productions.

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Challenges of Live-streaming Video Content

On the flip-side, there are some very real challenges to live-streaming video, primarily because there just isn't one solution, or a best solution. As easy and inexpensive as webcasting has become, there is still a good amount of technical setup - much more technical setup than just video recording.

Each brand or company will have to determine their audience's receptivity and access to this type of content, and since everyone has a different audience, that decision needs to be very carefully thought through. Also, brands and marketers need to find the right vendor that can meet their demands - once those demands have been determined, and there are many factors to consider such as 'who is your audience?' and 'how will they view the live stream?' What devices and online players are they able to view the live stream? How much bandwidth are they capable of receiving?

Once you understand who most of your audience is - as well as the type of content you plan to broadcast (sports, corporate, religious etc), and if it will be a public or private broadcast - you can determine the best method of encoding and distributing the stream so the audience can receive it.

  • You HAVE to understand your audience and determine whether they would benefit from the live-streamed content you want to provide
  • There is a cost factor that needs to be taken into account
  • There are technological factors that need to be taken into consideration, i.e. what platform to use, does that platform need encoding, can your audience access the content via a mobile device etc.

Do you live-stream events for your brand or company? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? What type of live broadcasting has worked for you? Have you found a good ROI from live-streaming? Let us know in the comments below.