Even though live video streaming has been around for more than a decade, it has only recently become mainstream. Five years ago, for example, you’d have a very hard time finding a social network with a live streaming product. Fast forward to 2020, and you’d have a very hard time finding a social network without it — even LinkedIn has one.
By 2021, live video is predicted to account for 13% of all consumer internet traffic. Every second that passes brings an incredible amount of live content people can watch on an increasing number of platforms. For content creators, the competition and the scattering of audiences can be a problem. The best way to address that problem is to multistream.
What is multistreaming?
When streaming video, content creators use a content delivery network — YouTube, Twitch, or a social network — to spread their content to the people who use that network. Creators are usually free to use as many of these websites as they want.
The only limitation is that you can’t stream to as many destinations as you want, at least not at the same time. This problem can cause a significant hurdle creators need to overcome.
Let’s say a content creator — a marketer, gaming streamer, artist, or religious streamer — wants to do a live Q&A session. This is a very engaging type of live content, so it makes sense to publish it on every network the content creator uses.
However, if the content creator can stream live video to only one network at a time, they have a choice to make. They can either do a separate Q&A session for each platform, or they can do it live on only one platform and then publish a recording on every other platform they use. It’s a choice between sacrificing a huge chunk of time or failing to reach their whole audience in the most engaging way.
Multistreaming is the solution to this problem along with many others. It’s very similar to regular streaming. The small but significant difference is that you’re streaming to multiple content delivery networks at the same time. So instead of focusing on a single network or having to stream to multiple networks one at a time, you stream only once by simulcasting your content on multiple networks.
What are the benefits of multistreaming?
Before creators were able to multistream, each network they used meant another broadcast they needed to do. If you used YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook, for example, you had no choice but to make a separate stream for each of these.
When content creators multistream, this stops being an issue. Together with their time, creators get back the freedom to choose multiple platforms to use. They can stream to multiple platforms freely, without worrying about bandwidth or other constraints. This freedom of choice is important to you as a creator because it lets you:
- Use niche and mainstream platforms at the same time. Niche platforms are where the core community is. Mainstream platforms help you break out of your niche.
- Take advantage of the specifics of every platform. Facebook is renowned for its analytics and reach, while LinkedIn is known for the very specific audience it attracts. There’s no reason not to use both.
- Explore emerging networks together with your audience. As new content delivery networks are introduced, a part of your audience might start using them instead of one of the established networks. Thanks to multistreaming, you don’t have to choose between emerging and established networks. You can use both.
- Creators can stop trying to attract their audiences to a single platform. If they can stream to multiple platforms, having a central platform where they do most of the streaming stops being so important.
- Creators can get better results without significant new investments. It’s possible to stream to multiple sites without huge upfront investment.
Streaming to multiple sites opens a world of possibility to content creators. Whether their goal is to reach new audiences or stay in touch with specific segments of an existing audience on the platforms they prefer, multistreaming will help creators achieve it.
How to multistream
For someone who is already streaming content, going from regular streaming to streaming to multiple sites doesn’t have to be that difficult. Broadly speaking, there are two aspects content creators need to consider: the networks they are using and the multistreaming hardware, software, or service they plan to use.
There’s no difference in the way creators capture footage for multistreaming and what they would do for regular streaming. That footage, however, needs to be fed into hardware, software, or a cloud service that can then stream the content to several platforms at the same time.
A full list of steps creators need to take if they want to multistream video content online would look like this:
- Set up accounts on multiple platforms that support streaming;
- Pick hardware, software, or a cloud multistreaming solution;
- Set the multistreaming solution up and connect it with the rest of the gear;
- Go live to multiple platforms.
As you can see, the instructions are simple. You make a couple of decisions, set up the new gear, and you’re ready to start multistreaming. The decisions you make are important, but in some cases, like when choosing content delivery networks, multistreaming gives you some room to experiment. When it comes to multistreaming solutions, however, experimenting might come with a price tag.
Which content delivery networks to use for multistreaming
Content delivery networks come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them are mega-popular social networks that have started their own live video streaming services. These are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with Periscope.
Then there are video hosting websites, which specialize in live streaming, as Twitch does, or have started offering live video streaming more recently, as YouTube did.
You also have platforms that specialize in certain types of content. Mixer specializes in gaming content, for example, Mobcrush in mobile gaming content, and Picarto in live streaming for creatives. Some platforms are best suited for reaching an audience in specific geographic regions, such as VK, which is vеry popular in Russia, and Afreeca.tv is for South Korea.
Each of these platforms offers something different. Facebook, for example, has the biggest user base and audience-targeting tools that are pretty much the best you’ll find. YouTube, on the other hand, allows significantly better video quality, and people are increasingly using it as a search engine. Smaller platforms usually occupy a niche that makes them attractive.
Here are some suggestions you can employ when choosing the delivery networks for multistreaming:
- Stream to the platforms where you already have a significant follower base.
- Cover only the big ones, like Facebook Live, YouTube, and Periscope.
- Cover a whole market — use YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer to stream gaming content, for example.
- Use one or two big ones, plus a niche network — YouTube and Facebook plus Picarto for a visual artist.
It takes some time to develop a follower base on these platforms, and only then will you be able to see the full results from multistreaming. So remember that, while it’s a good idea to mix and match a little, you also want to avoid wasting time and energy on a network that doesn’t serve your goals. Pick a couple of good ones and focus on growing on them.
Which multistreaming solution is the best?
There are three multistreaming solutions at content creators’ disposal. They are:
- Hardware encoders with multistreaming capabilities, the most reliable option. The quality of the stream is very dependent on the bandwidth of the internet connection. Plus, it can get expensive.
- Multistreaming software, which can be very demanding on the content creators’ hardware. Bandwidth significantly affects the quality of the stream.
- Cloud-based multistream platforms, which effectively do away with any bandwidth or hardware requirements on the creator’s side. The cloud platform handles all of it.
It’s up to you to figure out which one fits your needs the best. For most people who are new to multistreaming, however, cloud-based solutions might be the most cost-efficient. At the very least, they don’t add any new hardware or bandwidth demands. For all intents and purposes, multistreaming with cloud platforms is just as demanding as streaming to one delivery network. Plus, they are easy to set up and use.
Restream.io — an example of a cloud-based service
As a cloud-based multistreaming service, Restream.io has all the benefits that make these services a great choice for multistreaming. It doesn’t hurt that it includes the most in-demand features for multistreaming.
The full list of features is extensive. The ones you’ll love the most include:
- Full support for over 30 multistreaming platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. Streaming to supported networks is the most convenient and cost-effective way to multistream.
- An ability to use networks it doesn’t support. Restream will not limit you to the networks it supports. You have the option to add the RTMP URL and stream keys of platforms that aren’t supported.
- Unlimited streaming time at an unlimited bitrate. It doesn’t limit the quality or quantity of broadcasts, either.
- Advanced monitoring and analytics tools. You need to know what’s going on with your stream while streaming, but you also need a way to analyze performance in order to make improvements.
- Social alerts. Why not blast an alert to let audiences know about your upcoming live stream?
- Stream scheduling with Restream Scheduler. It adds the ability to stream pre-recorded content.
- Multi-chat support with Restream Chat. Chats from every connected content delivery network in one central place.
- No-frills streaming solution with Restream Studio. A webcam and a browser are all you need to start streaming with Restream Studio.
For anyone who is new to multistreaming, Restream is the core service they’ll use. The additional services will come in handy when they master multistreaming. As for the features, they kick in from day one, allowing creators to multistream their content with few technical limitations.
How to set up Restream.io for multistreaming
Setting up Restream.io for multistreaming the standard way is easy. All you need to have are accounts on the content delivery networks you wish to stream on, an account on Restream, and an encoder — Restream works with the most popular encoders, including OBS Studio, XSplit and more.
From the Restream dashboard, click on the “add channel” button. Pick one of the supported content delivery networks. Choose the automatic setup and let Restream gather all the information it needs. Repeat this step for every platform you want to add.
You’ll also notice that Restream lets you pick a server — it’s best to choose one that’s closest to your location. Right under that menu, you’ll see a Restream RTMP URL and stream key. You’ll need to enter those into an encoder just like you do when streaming to a single network.
How to use Restream Studio
The easiest and most direct way to start multistreaming is with the Restream Studio. If you’ve set up Restream for multistreaming, the Studio allows you to go online without having to use an encoder in your setup. All you need is a webcam, a Restream account, and a web browser, and you’ll be able to multistream within minutes.
You’ll be able to do more than just multistream, too. Restream Studio allows you, for example, to use Restream’s Chat feature easily while streaming in the Studio. But you can also add overlays, backgrounds, and logos to your stream. And if you want to add special snippets of text, you can do so using captions. So, while Restream Studio puts you in the driver's seat as quickly as possible, it also gives you easy access to some options to control the look of your stream.
Some of the questions around multistreaming have already been settled. The answer to “why” is so glaringly obvious that no one is asking it anymore. The ones that are left open, most notably the “how” and “where,” are what should concern you. These are the questions that require good answers.
“With Restream” and “wherever you want” are probably two of the best answers you’ll find. Restream offers a reliable and convenient multistreaming service with unbeatable features and easy setup. If your mind’s set on the delivery networks to use, you only need to make an account with Restream and you’ll be ready to broadcast whenever and wherever.