It’s five minutes to go time and you’re all set up to start live streaming on your website—your cameras are strategically placed, your encoder is ready to go, and your internet connection is clocking in at warp speed. You’ve directed all your viewers to your organization’s site, where any minute now the live feed will begin streaming into hundreds of computers (you hope). You’re feeling pretty confident that your level of preparedness is about to pay off nicely and that your viewers will be impressed.
This scenario sounds great, but is the resulting live stream getting the attention it deserves? The user experience is just as important as the production, and unless you’re paying it equal attention, you may be shortchanging your audience. Even a well-produced live stream is only as good as its viewing platform.
Before You Set Up A Live Stream On Your Website…
It’s tempting to want to embed your live streaming video on your own website—we know! Directing viewers to a familiar place and keeping everything under one roof, so to speak, definitely has some advantages. There’s no confusion about where to watch, and you have complete control over the stream and where it appears.
Want to streamline your production process? This live streaming checklist includes every step needed to produce a top-notch broadcast.
There are also some caveats, however. If you plan on using your website as the viewing “portal,” here’s what you should know before you commit:
- A live stream on your website can get “lost” among the site’s other content, living alongside the rest of the information on the site like a sidebar. In other words, the live stream is clearly not the star of the show.
- It’s challenging to make sure every viewer can watch given the multitude of devices your audience will undoubtedly be using. If your site isn’t equipped to deliver the video in a variety of device-appropriate formats, you may leave some viewers out in the cold.
- Unless you have analytics tracking already configured on your website, you’ll have no way of knowing how many users came to watch your stream. Some video players may provide some level of viewer data, but many will not.
- If you want to have people pay to watch an event, it’s difficult to put the content behind a paywall.
Advantages Of A Custom Live Stream Portal
Rather than streaming that live video on your own website, distribute your feed through a special domain-branded web address. A live streaming provider can create a portal specifically for your organization’s live feed, with an appearance that matches your existing website. There are several advantages to a portal, including:
1. Built-in analytics. Your live streaming provider can build in analytics so you’ll know how many people are watching and what devices they’re watching from.
2. Cross-platform compatibility. No matter what device a viewer is using, the portal delivers the proper stream, every time.
3. Paywall options. If you want the option of people paying to watch an event, a portal makes it easy to construct a paywall.
4. An all-in-one experience. You won’t lose out on your organization’s branding surrounding the live stream because the portal is designed especially for you. You can also supply the viewers with ancillary data such as live statistics (for sporting events) and slides or notes for sermons and other types of presentations.
5. Social media integration. Viewers can easily interact via Twitter, which may not be possible if you stream on your own website.
At Stretch, we take pride in building every client a custom branded, all-in-oneportal, because we feel that the user experience is paramount. We create a custom landing page with a unique URL that houses all your content. That URL becomes your organization’s digital content destination going forward. Users can easily find links to each event and you can link to your portal from your website and other distribution channels. In fact, it becomes the familiar place you want it to be without some of the things that take away from the overall experience, like ads and surrounding “noise.”
What A Live Streaming Provider Can Do For You
Not all portals are created equal—every live streaming provider handles the viewing experience differently. Make sure you ask prospective providers about the user experience they offer; you’ll be able to tell how much they value it based on their answers.
Beyond that, a live streaming provider should be working hard on your behalf throughout the streaming process. All you have to do is capture the video live. The best providers offer support and assistance with setup, help connecting to the internet, constant monitoring of the feed, and troubleshooting during the entire event. Most importantly—fans should be able to contact the provider directly if they’re having trouble viewing.
We specialize in providing memorable experiences for your fans—and for you. If you have a custom portal in mind and would like to talk more about how to live stream your video over the internet, drop us a line.