One of the early decisions you’ll need to make as a streamer is choosing the best live streaming platform for your content. There’s a long list of streaming platforms, each offering different strengths — from audience size to customizability to special features — so it’s important to consider what you hope to achieve and what platform can help you accomplish those goals.

Today we’re going to look at some of the most prominent streaming sites and what they have to offer. There are several benefits to each one, so while trying to decide what platform to use, remember: it’s not necessarily what platform is the best, but what platform is the best for you.

Lighstream works with any of these platforms, so we’ve got you covered no matter which one(s) you choose. You can even set up your own private stream via other commercial options with our Custom RTMP destination option.

It’s not necessarily what platform is the best, but what platform is the best for you.

Facebook

One of the reasons Facebook is a great place to start streaming is the sheer size of its user base. With over 2 billion users across the globe, Facebook boasts a massive audience ready to see your stream on their news feed. But where you can really benefit isn’t the network as a whole but the personal network you’ve already built.

If you’ve been using Facebook over the years to build a following, you can use those Likes you already have to tap into that audience from the get-go. You don’t need to worry about building an audience because it’s already there, so when you’re ready to go live, you can reap the reward and give your stream instant exposure.

Danie Muniz live streaming to Facebook
Danie Muniz shares tips and inspiration to followers of her Facebook page.

Another benefit of Facebook is the diversity of interests its users has, which can be helpful if you’re still fine-tuning your idea for a stream. Maybe you’re not sure about what you want your focus to be or want to explore a variety of topics? Facebook has viewers of all kinds, giving you a chance to experiment and explore until you find the right niche for your video.

YouTube

Have you already created videos for YouTube? Then you’re in great shape.

Not only can you tap into your subscriber base for an early audience, but you can also use the existing videos on your profile to complement your streams. Another perk is that each live stream is automatically recorded, which helps build up a library of content. With a YouTube profile that features streams and pre-recorded video clips, you can offer a variety of video content, giving your viewers plenty to watch while you’re not on stream and giving you another avenue to bringing in subscribers

YouTube star Hank Green practicing a performance via livestream
Hank Green using Lightstream to supplement his pre-recorded videos with more casual live streams.

Or maybe you want to attract website visitors? You can do that using YouTube too, which allows you to embed your stream on your front page, blog posts, or wherever best fits your content strategy.

And don’t forget: YouTube is part of Google, so you can expect the added benefit of their top-of-the-line analytics, giving you excellent insight into who’s watching and how you can optimize your stream.

Twitch

The top 10 Twitch emotes of 2017

While Twitch earned its stripes in game streaming, it has opened its doors over the years to other creative streaming pursuits such as art, music, and talk shows. (You can even watch Bob Ross!)

Perhaps the biggest reason Twitch is so successful as a streaming platform is its active and vibrant community constantly on the lookout for entertaining live video content. With features like friend lists and Whispers (private conversations), Twitch mimics sitting on a couch and playing games with friends. 

This personal touch is where Twitch shines. By creating a true community around your stream, you can amplify the performance of the many alerts, donations, and chat moderation tools that are out there, and Twitch boasts compatibility with more of them than any other platform. There are also other ways to monetize your stream that are unique to Twitch, such as subscriptions and Bits (emoticons that can be purchased to use in chat).

For more on Twitch, check out their recently released Fact Sheet or this handy informational comic.

Mixer

Bigger isn’t always better. Because it’s geared toward a specific crowd (gamers), Mixer has a smaller, more focused user base, which means less competition for you and a better chance of being discovered as a newer streamer.

Mixer is also one of the more inventive live streaming platforms, offering interactivity features that separate it from its competition. While watching your stream or navigating Mixer, viewers earn “Sparks,” a virtual currency that they can spend to activate soundboards and alerts on your stream. There are also games supported by Mixer that allow viewers to move objects and mess around with the streamer, creating a wildly entertaining show.

Mixer streamers enjoy sub-second delay and unique features like interactive alerts & sound boards.

In addition to all of that, Mixer also has unique features such as HypeZone, a dedicated PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) channel that features random streamers when they make it to the top 10 of a match; co-streaming options; and FTL technology, causing less delay between you and your audience when chatting. You can respond faster, giving the feel of a true, real-time chat, making your streams more engaging and helping you build a closer following.

Custom Destinations & Pro Setups

Looking to customize the viewing experience rather than rely on a platform’s UI?  There are also options out there that allow you to own the entire pipeline to have more control over the experience of your stream. 

The benefits of using one of these services is that you can choose how your stream is delivered and fine-tune what your audience is seeing. While you have separate options for going this route, these are some notable services worth checking out:

And More!

There are, of course, other options out there for streaming your content, and more are popping up frequently. Some of the newer or smaller streaming platforms have their advantages in that you can become a big fish in a smaller pond or reach a niche audience that may not have found you on one of the bigger platforms. See if one might be right for you:

  • Periscope: Owned by Twitter, so it has a similar benefit as Facebook in that you could potentially have a head start in building a streaming audience through your already established follower count.
  • Smashcast: Features integration with Discord and is geared toward eSports users, so Smashcast is best for gaming related streams.
  • Stream.me: Because it’s new, it’s an excellent testing ground for ideas that may not be refined enough for primetime. Monetization is easy too in the event that your idea takes off.
  • Mobcrush: Focused on mobile gaming while most of the other game-streaming options are geared toward PC and consoles.
  • Picarto.tv: For art and creative streams. Because it’s more targeted, it’s ideal if artists are your primary viewers.

While these are several of the live streaming options out there, be on the lookout because there are new and exciting platforms popping up all the time that may best cater toward your interests. We hope this helps get you started with your new stream! 

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