Content marketing is all the rage. Businesses are finding new ways to connect to customers and in doing so are relying on multiple types of content. Video is one of the most popular forms of content marketing media and its popularity is only growing. With the proliferation of smartphones and the increase in network capability, customers are consuming more video than ever.
Why Go Live in the First Place?
At this point, you may be wondering, “Why not just post a video? Why does my business have to go live? Isn’t it just the same?” After all, videos have a pretty high ROI.
However, going live has a couple of significant advantages that can give your business that much-needed competitive edge.
For starters, the video-on-demand space is crowded. Almost every brand worth its salt is posting videos on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. It can even be said that the space is saturated. However, the live-streaming sector is relatively new, meaning that it offers a better opportunity for your brand to shine and cut through the noise.
The other significant advantage of live streaming is interaction. Your customers can join the live session and engage with you by asking questions or giving you their thoughts on various aspects of your brand. This real-time interaction is invaluable. Not only does it help you connect deeper with your customer base but it can also be a powerful form of market research. The insights you gain from your customers in live sessions can be useful in product development and in finding new ways to better satisfy customers
You can now see why every business should consider going live. Now, let’s look at how it works.
How Does Live Streaming Work?
Before you stream, you first have to record both video and audio. You can do this with a smartphone or with cameras and microphones. Unless you have a really good smartphone, your live stream won’t have very good quality. And even though audiences expect less from live streams in terms of quality, compared to video-on-demand, you probably want the best for your brand.
The more advanced equipment you use, the better the quality of your live stream. As a result, you are likely to have better engagement with your audience and attract larger audiences in future live streams.
Even if you don’t invest in expensive video equipment, it’s important to invest in good audio equipment to ensure that your stream has good audio quality. An audience may bear with poor video quality but many people will not sit through a live session with bad audio.
This is useful if you are doing multi-camera streaming. Mixing equipment allows you to capture audio and video from multiple sources and smoothly switch between different sources during the stream.
You can use hardware switchers if you have multiple camera angles. You can also switch digitally using live-streaming encoding software on a computer.
Video capture involves recording a series of images. Encoding enables this result to be stored as fluid video as opposed to individual images. This stage is important for optimizing your video for viewers. To that end, encoding can be done for many purposes.
It can be done to make the video compatible with certain end-user devices like smartphones, reduce file size, reduce buffering, or alter the resolution or aspect ratio of a video.
Transmission and Distribution
This is usually where live broadcast solutions, including a high quality streaming device, come in handy. Your video is segmented into smaller parts, rather than being sent out all at once.
If you’re using a mobile phone to stream to one social media platform like Facebook Live, Facebook will do all the work for you.
However, if you are streaming to multiple platforms at once, you’ll need one of several commercially available live broadcast solutions to connect you to the platforms. A high quality streaming device will send the steam directly from your camera to online platforms of your choice or to customizable web destinations.
This stage also involves a content delivery network. (CDN) A CDN comes in handy when you are streaming the video to viewers in multiple destinations. It helps maintain high quality and reduce latency. Basically, a CDN caches your video in servers all around the world. When a viewer joins your stream, they are served with data from the nearest server. This makes sure that they receive the stream in the shortest time possible.
Decoding and Playback
Your viewers will receive the video data and an app on their phone will decompress and decode the data, then play it.
What Equipment Do You Need For Live Broadcast?
Streaming with your mobile device may work fine at the individual level, but at the business level, it may not be the best way to go. Your audience will appreciate the effort you make to improve the quality of your stream and that includes using some professional equipment.
That said, if you have a high-end smartphone, you could combine it with some equipment and pull off quite the production.
Mobile Live Streaming Equipment
A handheld smartphone gimbal and a multi-functional tripod can help avoid shaky video. A compact on-camera microphone can help achieve high-quality audio and probable lighting gear can give your video that professional touch.
Video Recording Equipment
High-quality video streams are attractive and the best way to ensure high quality is to invest in professional video cameras. You can choose from entry-level cameras, prosumer cameras, and professional video cameras.
Entry-level cameras are cheap and easy to move around but require ideal lighting conditions for high-quality video.
Prosumer cameras have decent HDMI connectivity and excellent video quality.
Professional cameras offer advanced connectors like SDI and produce high-quality video even in poor lighting conditions. They are more durable and have more ergonomic manual controls.
Audio Recording Equipment
Audio quality may be even more important than video quality to audiences. Audio equipment for live streams also comes in three levels: low-medium, medium-high, and professional quality.
If you are capturing multiple video or audio sources for your stream, you’ll need mixing equipment to conveniently switch between sources. You can use hardware switchers when you have multiple camera angles.
Hardware encoders use dedicated algorithms to turn recorded video into streamable content. They usually come with HDMI and SDI interfaces to connect to cameras. They are ideal for professional use and can support 24/7 streaming without crashing.
Software encoders integrate mixing and production tools and are attractive to startups because of their low cost and wide array of customization options. They lack the low latency that comes with hardware encoders.
How an HQ Streaming Device Helps
Among other features, an HQ streaming device incorporates bonding technology that allows you to leverage multiple connections to ensure bandwidth consistency even in poor network conditions. With such technology, you can deliver solid live streams from anywhere. This comes in particularly handy in congested network environments, like in a concert.
In addition, such a streaming device allows you to start streaming to multiple platforms in just a few seconds, and with a single push of a button.