Broadcasting and the media have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Just twenty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that individuals could start their own media channels — even multiple channels, because they can stream to multiple destinations.
The terminology around broadcasting and media has changed, too. People are no longer programmers of media channels, but content creators or streamers. In some cases, however, people are using old broadcasting terms to describe digital analogs.
Simulcasting is one of those words we sometimes hear today, even though we’ve come up with a perfectly adequate new word that reflects modern times (multistreaming). Let’s unpack what simulcasting really means and why you should care.
What can simulcast mean?
The term “simulcast” was first recorded around the middle of the 20th century. At this time, 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 tricky is that you can use it to describe a few different processes. For example, you can say a 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 simulcasting when you broadcast a regular program with an additional audio channel, via secondary audio programming, or SAP. In these 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 most relevant meaning of simulcasting is to broadcast simultaneously to more than one channel. When content is broadcasted to two platforms simultaneously, it’s a great example of simulcasting. If the same TV show — or radio show — goes out on two channels at the same time, or on a cable channel and an online platform at the same time, that’s simulcasting.
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Why should you care about simulcasting?
The newest form of live broadcasting, where you sit in your room and play video games for online viewers, take viewers behind the scenes at a live event, or answer questions directly from your audience, 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, 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 LinkedIn might be familiar with 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.
To be able to stream to multiple platforms at the same time, you’ll need a multistreaming service. Restream supports more than thirty live streaming platforms and allows you to create custom RTMP sources to stream to platforms that aren’t supported.
When you multistream with Restream, you get access to tons of benefits that make live streaming easier, including:
- Restream Studio to go live on over 30 platforms at once directly from your web browser.
- Restream Events to broadcast pre-recorded videos live and create shareable events on each platform you plan to go live on.
- Restream Chat to see all your messages from each platform’s live chats in one central hub.
- Restream Analytics to get all the audience, stream performance, and chat insights you need to improve your live streaming.
Whether you’re simulcasting or multistreaming, the goal is always the same — 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 that modern-day streamers are carrying 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 can use simulcasting (or multistreaming) to help your live streaming reach new heights.