Isn’t it nice that money grows on trees? And that selecting a live streaming platform is a piece of cake?
If you have one eyebrow raised in silent query, you’re not alone. Selecting a live streaming provider can be daunting, particularly if you’re just getting started.
Full disclosure: At Stretch Internet, we offer a live streaming platform—we stream more than 60,000 live events every year. We put a ton of emphasis on providing top-of-the-line live support. Whether something goes wrong on game day, you have technical problems during a Sunday service, or you want to add memorable features to your live stream (like instant replay and social media integration), we’re focused on providing the best experience for you and your viewers. If that sounds good to you, let’s chat!
But hey, we totally understand if you want to look around at some other options—and we want to make that easier on you! If you’re just getting started with your first stream or your organization simply doesn’t have a live streaming budget right now, there are several great platforms to help you begin.
Below, we’ve listed—in alphabetical order—five of the best live streaming platforms for companies that are budget- or value-conscious (or companies that just can’t get their money tree to grow quickly enough).
5 Live Streaming Platforms On A Budget
1. Facebook Live (Free)
Facebook is new to the live streaming space and still seems to be testing the waters (and boundaries) with who can stream, how long they can stream, and more. We’re looking forward to seeing how this evolves in the future.
- Your live stream directly integrates with the largest social media platforms in the world.
- People who “like” your Facebook page are able to see the live stream in their news feed, and they’re also able to get notifications about your live stream.
- Some streams may have a time limit. As we mentioned, the rules for this seem to be changing regularly, so be sure to check Facebook for updated information.
- Certain streams require a certain group size and/or Facebook verification.
- There is no support available for Facebook Live.
2. LiveStream ($40–$200 Per Month)
- LiveStream is a “completely integrated live streaming solution,” and one of the leading providers in terms of streaming technology. They have their own camera systems, encoders, and even free encoding software. Therefore, their products integrate effortlessly.
- Their video player is easy to navigate for the end-user, and offers many advanced features that can be integrated are just a click away.
- If you want support for your live stream, you’ll have to purchase the highest tier in their paid subscription.
- Their streaming platform is an embedded player, so it’s not very customizable. They give you a player and you have to build your page around it. This means the user experience is completely up to you.
3. Twitch (Up To $8.99 Per Month)
Twitch is a gaming-based platform that focuses on live interaction between the host and the viewers.
- The platform has an integrated live chat.
- Users are able to upgrade for an ad-free experience.
- If you’re not providing gaming streams, Twitch probably isn’t the best live streaming platform for you.
- There are ad insertions at various points in the free stream, which can be irritating for the end user.
4. UStream ($99–$999 Per Month)
- If you outgrow UStream’s “professional” plans, there are enterprise-level plans available. Pricing for enterprise plans is outside of the range listed above, as it is fully customized.
- UStream works with almost every hardware and software encoder on the market, which makes things easier for you when it comes to integration.
- The interface is simple—you could be streaming within five minutes of purchasing UStream.
- They offer a free 30-day trial of their professional service, so you can try it out without any obligation.
- To have your own branded experience, you’ll have to pay more per month. The cheaper plans are UStream-branded, which might detract from your user experience.
- Between our five best live streaming platforms on a budget, UStream is clearly the most expensive option.
5. YouTube Live (Free)
YouTube Live is a smaller part of YouTube’s booming on-demand video service.
- It’s free, and it makes it very easy to start a live stream.
- People are familiar with the platform—almost anyone at any age who uses a computer knows how to navigate YouTube.
- YouTube runs all of the same bots on the live streaming videos that they do on their on-demand videos. So if you’re using copyrighted music at your event, your stream could get pulled down. (We’ve heard horror stories about live sporting events that have been shut down in the middle of a stream, because the YouTube bot detected copyrighted arena music in the background.)
- Because YouTube Live is a free service, there may be pre-roll ads, pop-up banner ads, and other minor irritations the end user will experience.
One Last Thing
If you remember one thing about live streaming on a budget, remember this: Preparation is everything. You (likely) won’t have live support waiting to help you if something goes wrong, so it’s critical to be prepared and know as much about the product as possible before you begin your live stream. Testing multiple times before your first event is a failsafe we strongly recommend.
If you would love to live stream your event but want a partner to guide and assist you through the process, let’s talk! At Stretch Internet, we stream more than 60,000 live events every year with an emphasis on providing outstanding live support and memorable experiences.