What is simulcasting and how it works

Broadcasting and the media sure have changed over the past couple of decades. Just twenty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a time when so many people had access to the technology that allows them to become a media channel of their own - even multiple channels, because they can stream to multiple destinations. But that’s exactly what we can do with the ubiquitous smartphone and, for example, a social network like Facebook, a platform like YouTube, and a service like Restream.

The terminology around broadcasting and media has changed, too. We don’t become programmers of media channels – we are content creators or streamers. But still, in some cases, people are using old broadcasting terms to describe digital analogs. Simulcasting is one of those words that we sometimes hear today even though we’ve come up with a perfectly adequate new word that reflects modern times. So let’s see if we can find out what simulcasting means, and why you should care.

What can simulcast mean?

What can simulcast mean?

The term “simulcast” was first recorded around the middle of the 20th century. That was the time when most of the world either had terrestrial television or was in the process of getting it. “Simulcast” is a portmanteau of the words “simultaneous” and “broadcast,” and that’s exactly what it means – a simultaneous broadcast if it’s used as a noun, or to broadcast simultaneously if it’s used as a verb.

What makes the word “simulcast” tricky is that you can use it to describe a couple of fairly different things. For example, you can say that signal is simulcast if you broadcast it from multiple towers at the same time, in order to get wider coverage. The number of channels you’re broadcasting to stays the same.

Then there’s what happens when you broadcast a regular program with an additional audio channel, via what is called SAP, or secondary audio programming. In those cases, viewers can pick one of two audio tracks to have over their video. The broadcaster creates two audio channels with content in two different languages and lets the audience decide which one to listen to. In the United States, this way of simulcasting is mostly used to broadcast English- and Spanish-language audio tracks at the same time.

The final, and the most relevant meaning of simulcasting is to broadcast simultaneously to more than one channel at once. When something is being broadcast to two platforms at the same time, that’s a great example of simulcasting. If the same TV show – or radio show – goes out on two channels at the same time, or a cable or terrestrial channel and live on an online platform, that’s simulcasting.

Why should you care about simulcasting?

The newest form of live broadcasting, where you sit in your room and play video games, or answer questions from your viewers, is available to anyone. Live video streaming is happening on specialized live streaming platforms, regular video hosting platforms, and even on most social networks. With a little help, however, the same live broadcast can easily be transmitted to several of these channels, at the same time.

Someone who live streams video content on websites like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or Mixer, might have heard of the term “multistreaming.” It means streaming to more than one of these platforms, websites, or networks at the same time. It’s the simulcasting of the live streaming world, if you will.

To be able to stream to multiple platforms at the same time, you’ll need the help of a multistreaming service. Restream can offer you plenty of reasons why you should choose it as your multistreaming service of choice, from the fact that it supports more than thirty platforms to the various bonus services it provides. At the very least, you can give it a go and see if it helps you amplify your streaming experience.

Restream scheme

Every form of simulcasting is underpinned by the same desire of the broadcaster – to reach a wider audience. Some types of simulcasting do it by giving audiences content in a way that’s better suited for them, while others simply help more people access your broadcast. Either way, it’s a tradition you, a modern-day streamer, should carry into the future. Tools like Restream might make multistreaming a breeze, but you should still take some time and learn a thing or two about it. Then, you might use some good old simulcasting to help your live streaming reach new heights.