Looking for the best live streaming platform to promote your brand and connect with your audience? We compiled a list of the 12 best live video streaming services worth looking at. They are free to use, though some have paid premium plans.
What is a live streaming platform?
A live streaming platform is a website, application, or software that allows you to broadcast live videos. When you upload a video to the platform, viewers can watch it in real time.
What makes a good live streaming service? At the very least, the service should provide video hosting and content management tools. It should also provide basic embedding tools, analytics, and monetization.
All the platforms on our list also have a social component or are part of a social media platform. This allows other users to follow you or subscribe to your channel so they can get notifications when you’re live.
There are so many great streaming platforms available today that it can be difficult to choose just one. But what if you weren’t limited to one platform? When you multistream with Restream, you can choose from 30+ social channels to stream to at once. Why multistream? You can widen your reach and let viewers watch you on their preferred platforms.
Restream is free and easy to use. All you need to get started is a Restream account. You can add channels, such as Facebook, Twitch, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Mixcloud, and your broadcast will upload to each platform simultaneously.
Restream is packed with features to help you multistream successfully. Restream Chat lets you manage the live chats from each platform in one window. Restream Events lets you upload prerecorded videos and schedule them to go live. Restream Analytics also gives you robust data on viewership, aggregated from each platform you broadcast to.
With Restream Studio, you get the power of live streaming directly from your browser without needing to install any third-party applications or software. Add guests or co-hosts to your stream, use premade graphics and overlays (or upload your own), and share your screen all in one browser tab.
Check out our guides on our tools and features to learn more!
YouTube tops our list of live streaming services for its sheer number of users — two billion every month. With so many people from across the globe and from different age groups, YouTube is one of the most universal live streaming platforms you can choose. YouTube found that channels featuring a weekly live stream get up to 40% more subscribers as well.
In addition to this wide access to viewers, YouTube also provides powerful analytics on your live videos and offers monetization options. Since YouTube is also a video storage platform, it saves each of your live streams so users can watch the replay whenever they want. YouTube Live also has a chat function so viewers can send messages to you and each other throughout the stream.
The downside to YouTube is its size. There are so many creators on the platform that making your live videos stand out could be a challenge. Also, while YouTube is free, you’ll be subjected to its revenue share policy if you start monetizing videos.
Like YouTube, Facebook is a social media behemoth, with a global base of 2.7 billion monthly active users. Also like YouTube, Facebook appeals to several demographics with millennials as the largest group of users.
With Facebook, you can build on a network of established users, especially if you’re already active on the platform. Key features include monetization options, broadcasting live from desktop and mobile devices, analytics, editing recorded versions of live videos, live chat, and scheduling live streams. You can go live from a personal profile, page, or group.
Some of the downsides of Facebook are the limits on how long you can stream and restrictions on monetization.
LinkedIn is no longer just a professional networking site; it’s now a full-fledged content creation platform. You can find articles, videos, and live videos from influencers, brands, and other professionals in your industry. 93% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for organic social marketing. Plus, the average LinkedIn user has twice as much buying power as the average internet user.
LinkedIn’s live streaming features include live chat and moderation tools, as well as analytics. You can also create an event on LinkedIn and stream directly to it. LinkedIn Live lets you save previous live streams as recordings. However, its features are more limited than live streaming on other social media platforms, plus you must apply for approval before you can go live on LinkedIn. The platform also offers no monetization options.
Who should stream on LinkedIn? Any professionals who want to promote an event, take others behind the scenes of their companies, recruit new employees, establish industry authority by interviewing experts, or demonstrate expertise with tutorials and seminars.
Twitter’s former live streaming service Periscope was discontinued in March 2021. But live streaming on Twitter is still possible, and users can share live video directly from their Twitter profiles. Twitter might not be as large as Facebook or YouTube, but live streamers still have access to 217 million daily active users.
You can live stream on Twitter through the app and on desktop, but you’ll need to use Twitter’s Media Studio Producer with live streaming encoding software for the latter. You can also connect with Restream. When you go live on Twitter, you can share a link directly to the stream, making it much easier for your audience to find it. Before you start a new broadcast on Twitter, you can invite a friend to co-host the live stream with you as well.
Like other social live streaming platforms, Twitter has a live chat function, and streamers can assign chat moderation to one of their viewers. You can also monetize your live videos on Twitter, subject to the platform’s eligibility requirements and advertising policy.
You can’t mention live streaming platforms without covering Twitch. The live streaming service started out catering to gamers but expanded exponentially to other categories in 2020. In Q3 of 2021, 5.79 billion hours were watched on Twitch globally.
On Twitch, you can upload live videos and store previous broadcasts for replay. Twitch also has the most robust chat feature of all the major live streaming platforms. Live streamers can create custom emotes for their chats, manage audience participation with bots, and receive subscriptions (subs) or gifts. There are several ways to monetize live videos on Twitch, including subs, badges, gifted subs, emotes, donations, and ads.
If you’re a gamer, Twitch should be one of the first platforms you consider. If you’re not a gamer, there still may be an audience for your content. The Just Chatting channel exploded in popularity in 2020, and other channels, like IRL, music, and art, are also popular.
With its several monetization options, Twitch is a great way to earn income from live streaming. But you’ll need to be a Twitch Partner or Affiliate to qualify.
6. TikTok Live
As a social media platform that’s geared toward viral videos, TikTok presents a great opportunity for live streamers. Although short video clips dominate TikTok, there’s still space for live video creators to find an audience. If your content is for Gen Zers (under 25 years old), then a presence on TikTok LIVE can be hugely beneficial.
If you have followers on TikTok, going live can establish a greater presence on the platform. Most videos are under one minute, so going live for 30 minutes can help your profile stand out. Live videos aren’t recorded, which can make your content seem more exclusive.
Not everyone can go live on TikTok. Only accounts with 1,000 or more followers have the capability. Also, monetization options (virtual gifts) aren’t available unless you are 18 or older.
7. Instagram Live
Instagram is no longer just for sharing photos with your friends. You can find on-demand and live videos from your favorite brands and influencers on the platform, too. In fact, Instagram captures 13% of all live stream viewers on social media.
Between Stories, IGTV, and live video, Instagram offers plenty of opportunities for live streamers to share content. When you go live on Instagram, your followers receive a notification so they can tune in. Instagram also saves your live streams to IGTV so anyone can watch the replay later. Instagram Live features a live chat function and allows you to bring guests onto your live stream. Monetization options include in-stream ads and donation badges ranging from $0.99 to $4.99.
As a live audio-only platform, you wouldn’t think Clubhouse would make a good home for live streamers. It is, however, the perfect place for streamers to have direct conversations with their followers. For those just starting out, Clubhouse can be a less intimidating way to get used to live broadcasting, as you only need to worry about audio. The platform’s popularity has skyrocketed, going from two million users in January 2021 to ten million just four months later.
On Clubhouse, you can start a room, and other users on the app will see it on their feeds and can join your room to listen. With this format, you can plan an event on Clubhouse ahead of time and promote it by sending out the link. The variety of events that take place on Clubhouse is impressive, from seminars to Broadway musical performances. The app also recently rolled out Clubhouse Payments, which allows users to send tips and donations to their favorite creators.
Clubhouse used to be for iOS and by invite only, but there's now an Android app, and anyone can join. You can only stream from the Clubhouse app, however — there’s no desktop option.
Mixcloud is a live streaming platform for audio creators. Live music, radio shows, DJ mixes, and podcasts are the most common types of content you’ll find on Mixcloud. Although Mixcloud has a fraction of the users that YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram have, it still has 20 million monthly listeners.
Mixcloud has licensing agreements with major record labels, so creators hosting radio shows can play their favorite artists’ music without worrying about copyright issues. The platform also archives all of your live shows so fans can watch them again later. If you want to create live content related to music, then you can find an audience on Mixcloud.
Mixcloud has better monetization options than other platforms on this list, allowing listeners to subscribe to creators’ channels for a small monthly fee. The downside to the live music and radio platform, however, is that creators must subscribe to Mixcloud Pro, which costs $15 per month. You can start with a free three-month trial to see how you like it and build a fanbase before you have to start paying the fee.
10. YouTube Gaming
For a while, YouTube hosted a separate platform for gamers to compete with Twitch. But since most creators were using regular YouTube to post gaming content anyway, YouTube Gaming got subsumed into YouTube and is now just another category. Even though it’s “just a category,” users watched 1.31 billion hours of gaming content on YouTube Gaming in Q3 2021 alone.
If you’re a gaming content creator who isn’t fond of Twitch (or would like to multistream), YouTube Gaming is a solid choice. Live streaming on YouTube Gaming is the same as going live on YouTube, with the same features available.
11. Facebook Gaming
Like YouTube, Facebook has a dedicated gaming section for its live streaming service. And like YouTube, gaming is one of the top-performing live stream categories on Facebook. Facebook Gaming may be a good place to start for new live streamers who don’t want to compete on Twitch.
Gamers on Facebook have access to all of Facebook Live’s tools and features. You can schedule live streams, manage the chat, monetize streams, and get analytics.
Let’s wrap up
Choosing a live streaming platform is no easy task. New streamers have many factors to consider. One platform isn’t better than another — they all have different features, audiences, and technical aspects. A live streaming service that works for one person or brand may not be the best choice for another. Always take your unique needs into account, and remember: when you’re having trouble choosing, there’s always multistreaming!