Whether you’re new to live streaming or a seasoned pro, you may have thought about what constitutes the perfect live video length. Does this perfection exist?
The short answer — it depends. There are no strict limits or rules about how long your live stream should be. It can vary depending on the video’s goal, type, and target audience. Also, don’t forget about the limitations of streaming platforms.
In this article, we will discuss the criteria that can help you choose the ideal duration for your live streams and videos, whether you broadcast Q&As, DJ sets, product launches, or interviews. We will also share some thoughts on how to keep your viewers engaged during the broadcast.
What defines the perfect video length
Of course, there is no such thing as a "good" or "bad" video length. However, it may and should vary depending on various factors, such as the topic, target audience, goal, and live streaming platform. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
First, think about what you want to share with people. Maybe you want to chit-chat about the recent events in your life? Or cover a big, complex topic, like climate change? Sharing tips and practices can take less time than a deep, versatile conversation. Define the topic of your future live streams and move to the next step.
🤖 Target audience
The simplest method to define your target audience is to see who has been interested in your live streams previously. If you have a website, analyze its audience with special tools, such as Google Analytics, to get the info on your viewers’ ages, genders, device types, etc.
Another way is to use analytics provided by a social platform. For example, YouTube provides both real-time and post-stream analytics. You can monitor the average watch time during the broadcast, along with the number of concurrent viewers or likes. After the stream, you can look through the number of new subscribers, the most-watched parts of the video, or the total watch time. Facebook also provides some insights, such as video retention, engagement, and the number of clicks. The other option to find your perfect audience is to conduct marketing research and surveys, or simply ask your audience about their interests.
Having decided on the topic and target audience, you can go ahead and think about goals you want to achieve. Try using a so-called marketing funnel to better understand what outcome you want to reach. According to this technique, if your objective is to bring awareness, the live stream may be relatively short and catchy so that viewers can grab the concept and get interested really fast. Or maybe you want to build up audience loyalty — then your live stream can last longer.
📺 Type of content
The video’s type is crucial for deciding on its length. You can stream quick behind-the-scenes content for 20 minutes or opt for three-hour gameplay. Events can have very different video lengths — from 30 minutes of industry announcements to more than two hours of landing on Mars. You can look for the most popular live stream videos of a certain kind on your preferable platform(s) and compare their lengths. Then you can start with this number and adjust it according to your audience’s reaction.
Live streaming platform
Every live streaming platform has its features and limitations. Therefore, you may need to adjust your videos to the requirements or audience preferences. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
YouTube is the biggest video platform globally with the largest number of monthly users — two billion worldwide. Considering the growing popularity of live streaming, it is a good place to start.
Before you start streaming on YouTube, you have to verify your channel. Also, you shouldn't have any live streaming restrictions within the last 90 days, such as:
- Community Guidelines strikes
- Globally blocked live streams
- Copyright strikes
- Exceeding the daily limit for live streaming
If you’re going to broadcast kid-friendly content on YouTube, remember that some features (live chat, comments, and reminder notifications) will be disabled. You can learn more about the platform’s features in our ultimate guide to YouTube live streaming.
So, how long should YouTube videos be? Technically, you can live stream as long as you want to. The only restriction is that YouTube can automatically archive live streams up to 12 hours long, so it is better to think of your maximum video length. Remember, it can be defined by the type of content you want to broadcast.
For example, the most popular live-streamed concerts on YouTube last around an hour, webinars are a bit shorter at 30 to 40 minutes, and events can last from 30 minutes to more than two hours.
Another critical point: if your videos have more watch time, YouTube will show them more distinctly in search results. So you can start with an average YouTube video length for your type of content (like a 30-minute webinar) and experiment to find the best option for you.
Facebook is another great platform for live streamers: 82% of the platform’s users choose live video over any other kind. If we remember that the social network reached almost three billion active users last year, it seems that Facebook is indeed a good place for live streamers. It also offers efficient targeting and analytics features, as well as advertising — Facebook is cool without any doubt. To learn more about how to take advantage of all these great features, head over to the ultimate guide to Facebook Live.
On Facebook you can live stream for up to four hours. So, if you want to broadcast an eight-hour event, you may need to think about how to split it. According to BuzzSumo research, the audience's interactions increase during the first 15 minutes and then remain relatively stable. It has also been shown that among the 10,000 top-performing live videos on Facebook, the average duration was around 20 minutes. But that doesn't mean you have to wrap up at the 20-minute mark. Other research has shown that live video engagement that lasts over one hour increases from 0.19% to 0.86%, so the "perfect" Facebook video length should be from 15 minutes to one hour long.
Pro tip: If you want to reach the audience on the biggest social networks and build brand awareness faster, stream to Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. With Restream Studio, you can take the best of both worlds. Multistreaming can help you save time on many things, from preparation (get ready for one stream instead of two) to defining your target audience (experiment with your content and compare feedback from each of the networks).
You can also elevate your live streaming experience to another level — add overlays and backgrounds and invite guests to your broadcast without any additional tools. Schedule your live streams with Restream Events or use Restream Chat to see, share, and moderate all the comments from both platforms in one place.
When it comes to quick live streaming sessions, Twitter is the platform that comes to mind. However, unlike the regular character-limited Twitter posts, live streams on this platform can and should be longer. In fact, the minimum recommendation of the live video length is around 10 minutes. The longer your broadcast is, the more information you can deliver to your viewers.
The general idea is that you should plan and promote your broadcast in advance. This way you can ensure that your viewers are aware of what to expect. Just like in case of the other big social media platforms, your audience can discover your live streams, consume your content, and share it. And as you start streaming, you will eventually understand how long your broadcasts should be. The golden rule is less water, more useful information.
Twitch is maybe one of the most popular live streaming platforms. It is most famous for its gaming streamers. However, you can also find any other type of content, from chatting live streams to music performances and IRL streams. If you’re new to this platform, check out our ultimate guide to Twitch live streaming.
After you get ready, you can start and keep streaming for up to 48 hours. But should it be 20 minutes, as on Facebook, or last for two days straight? If you want to go live regularly on Twitch, we suggest you start with at least three hours three times a week. If you want to stream for a longer time or more often, you can schedule your streams. List the days and times when you’re going to stream so your viewers can join you on time.
Important note: you should always listen to yourself. If you don't feel like going live for such a long time, it is okay to make your live streams shorter. Remember quality over quantity. No one wants to watch streamers falling asleep because of exhaustion.
LinkedIn jumped onto the bandwagon, launching its live streaming service in 2019. However, the delay didn't dilute the event's effect — live videos get 24 times more comments than other videos, according to LinkedIn data. Before you can stream, you need approval from the social network. You will also need to choose a third-party tool to broadcast to LinkedIn, and Restream became one of the first supported tools in 2019.
After that, you can live stream for up to four hours. LinkedIn seems to have the same situation as Facebook — it is recommended to stream for at least ten minutes to get your audience notified and engaged. After that limit, it is up to you and your goal: a short Q&A live stream or a complex event such as a new product launch or a panel.
Mixcloud is a live streaming platform for musicians and audiophiles. Here you can stream DJ sets, podcasts, and radio shows. Mixcloud allows you to stream for 24 hours max, as the system needs to refresh. Another limitation — the saving limit is six hours, so the platform will not save longer broadcasts completely. Mixcloud does not recommend live streaming for too long, so our advice is to look for the most popular show's length. It can depend on the topic — top-five interview talk shows last for more or less 30 minutes, while indie mixtapes are around one hour long.
Picarto is a perfect place for artists. It is optimized to live stream the art process, so if you want to share your masterpieces, it’s the place to go. It seems that the platform doesn’t have any live-stream length limits, so you can just follow your heart. Your video can be as long as you want — from fast sketches to detailed artistry. Communicate with your audience and change the length depending on the activity.
Read later: Streaming setup for beginners 📍
Give your live videos a second life
Having finished your live stream session, you can repurpose your video. Why? To grow your audience, of course. For example, you can upload your live stream highlights to different platforms to reach even more people. Another benefit — you can stream the recording once more. It is a great chance to get more viewers from different time zones or to get yourself an additional weekend if you stream daily.
Let’s take a quick look at some platforms you may use for this purpose and learn about the best video length for each of them.
As we said, YouTube will automatically save up to 12-hour live streams. You can leave it as it is and just upload the uncut version on the platform. Or you can repurpose it and upload a highlight or bloopers video, for example, that lasts up to 15 minutes. Add catchy previews and wait for new views.
In-feed videos on Facebook can last up to two hours. However, according to Wistia research, it is best to keep your videos up to two minutes, as after this mark, the views fall significantly. It may seem too short, but on the other hand, it is an excellent exercise for you to find and deliver the essential information.
You can repurpose your live streams from virtually any platform and post them on Twitter. Whether it would be a highlight of your recent live stream or a short audio teaser, Twitter is a great platform for promoting your broadcasts. Just don’t forget to add some catchy words in addition to your repurposed live streams.
For Twitch, you can enable autosave for your live streams. After that, you can use them as pre-recorded content to stream another day. By doing so, you can experiment and find the best time for live streams, for example.
Important note for Twitch affiliates: According to the Twitch exclusivity policy, Twitch affiliates can’t stream to multiple platforms or publish your live video anywhere for the next 24 hours. However, despite this restriction, you can also benefit from repurposing your content. Once the exclusive period has passed, you are free to upload, schedule, and live stream your Twitch broadcasts to multiple platforms with Restream Events.
As we said, you can live stream on LinkedIn using some additional tools. For example, Restream Studio can automatically archive your broadcast for up to 60 days. If you want to post it as an in-feed video, LinkedIn itself suggests keeping it very short — up to one minute.
PRO TIP: Make it a podcast
Let’s add a piece of magic. You can also turn your live stream into a podcast. For example, in Restream Studio, you have an option to download only-audio versions of your recorded streams. What’s next? It is up to you! You can upload it as it is or edit it a bit and polish it to perfection.
Tips to keep your viewers engaged
Despite the time limits and recommendations, every content creator wants their audience to be actually engaged in the topic. We've also prepared some tips on how you can maintain viewers' interest in the video regardless of its duration.
1. Plan your stream
One of the rookie mistakes is to go live wholly unprepared. Sure, it brings spontaneity and genuinity to your communication with viewers, but it has some drawbacks too. For example, people might get bored of neverending pauses and tons of "errs" and "uhs." Even if you just want to chat with your subscribers, it is better to prepare some points you would like to discuss.
Preparation also helps you feel more confidence and relax in front of the camera. It will help you forget about the fear of the audience and just enjoy what you’re doing. Viewers like genuine people with a positive attitude, so your confidence can boost the reach.
Pro Tip: Test your live stream before going live!
2. Control sound
Your video quality does not necessarily have to be Ultra HD, but having good-quality audio is a key to good communication with your audience. You can start choosing the right microphone or go ahead and use additional hardware and software to make your audio even better.
3. Remember the attention span
Maybe everybody has heard about modern people's bad, goldfish-like attention spans. That's a myth. Unfortunately, it is still true that we live in an information era where every second we get attacked with tons of content on every topic.
If you want to get noticed, try to catch viewers' attention from the very beginning — try using catchy descriptions and titles. You can start with the main topic, without any irrelevant chit-chat while waiting for people to gather. This way, you'll catch their interest in the first few seconds. Whether you're a beginner or a pro streamer, in our blog you can find some more useful tips.
Let's wrap up
Live streaming is getting popular, and nowadays, many platforms provide live-stream services. Every one of them has its requirements and limitations for video length. They can vary from four hours to unlimited broadcasting time. It is logical that with such differences, the optimal duration will differ for every platform.
The optimal live video length on Facebook is between 15 minutes and one hour. For LinkedIn, start with at least ten minutes and experiment to find your perfect live-stream duration. The average YouTube video length is around ten to 20 minutes, so you can start at this point and find limits that will suit you. Remember, the duration depends on the video's topic and type — a simple notification can be shorter than an interview, and there is no need to squeeze your video into "perfect" limits.
No matter how long or short your live stream will be, always do your best to keep your audience interested. Plan your streams, provide good quality, and make your videos catchy and informative. And remember that you can always repurpose your live-stream recordings.