How To Select A Live Streaming Video Provider

How To Select A Live Streaming Video Provider

Fact: Many companies make a rushed, ill-informed decision about which live streaming video provider to use.

Fact: That’s not advised!

Reading this article may help ensure that you don’t make that same mistake.

When you buy a car, you can’t just look at the price tag—and you can’t just look at the aesthetics. You have to look at the overall package and make sure you’ll be happy driving it today and in several years. The same goes for partnering with a video streaming provider! There are a number of critical factors you have to take into consideration before making your decision. So, we’ve made that process a little easier for you!

Below, we’ve outlined three critical steps you should take and four questions to ask yourself before selecting a live streaming video provider (as well as five ways you’ll know if you’ve made the right choice).

3 Steps To Take Before Selecting A Live Streaming Provider

1. Do your research online. Educating yourself about different video streaming providers and hosting options is easier than ever. Before you narrow down your list of options, be sure you spend a good amount of time surfing the web for providers that will help you with a successful streaming venture. You should be able to get a feel for their technology, look at the streaming experience they provide, and dig up any positive or negative online reviews.

2. Select vendors specific to your industry type. Once you’ve compiled your master list, you should whittle it down based on the streaming video providers who focus on your market. There’s a misconception that all streaming providers are created equal—that they can all accommodate any vertical—but there’s something to be said for finding a vendor who understands your area of business. For example, if you need to stream a business seminar, you may want a vendor who can incorporate a PowerPoint presentation—or if you’re streaming an athletic event, live statistics may be critical for the user experience.

3. Talk to those they’ve worked with. Instead of simply asking for a list of references, ask your streaming provider for a full client list. That way, you can bypass the stock references and cold call someone who has worked with the provider in the past to get an honest opinion. The first question you should ask is, “What happened when you ran into problems with your live stream? Tell me about that experience.” It doesn’t matter if their problem was big or small—every streaming and hosting provider will have issues at some point. You may want to offer the following prompts to get more information: 

  • “Did you try to reach out to them when the issue occurred?”
  • “How quick was their response?”
  • “What was their response?”
  • “Did the problem get fixed right away?”
  • “If it was a lengthy fix, did they stay on it until it was complete?”
  • “How was their communication throughout that process?”

After you learn about the experience, try to get a better understanding of the live streaming video provider as a partner—not just a third-party service provider. For example, ask about a time that the live streaming video provider went above and beyond for the company. Whether the company had a question about equipment or its IT department was struggling and the streaming provider stepped in to help, it’s always good to learn more about a provider’s performance in this area.

4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Selecting A Video Streaming Provider

1. Will I see advertising from the streaming provider during my live stream? Some “free” live streaming services make their money by cluttering your video stream with advertisements. Of course, this greatly diminishes the user experience. We’ve even heard from clients that their previous provider would put 15- or 30-second midroll advertising in their live streams. Of course, if you’re at a critical point in your broadcast  and your users are interrupted by a soft drink commercial, you can bet that the user experience will a negative one.

2. Will I see the streaming provider’s branding during my live stream? Again, it’s important to ask yourself what kind of experience you want to provide your user with. If you cannot control the messaging and branding of your live stream, that is a big red flag.

3. Will I be able to customize the streaming experience to meet the wants and needs of my viewership? For example, if you don’t see any options for your users to live comment or interact with social media, that could be an issue for your user experience.

4. Will my viewers be able to watch my live stream on Apple TV or Roku? You may want your users to be able to access the live stream from set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV. If your streaming provider doesn’t currently provide that (or isn’t in the process of rolling it out in the near future), that’s a red flag. Successful live streaming today examines a broader way to reach an audience—not just through traditional computers and phones.

5 Ways To Know You’ve Selected The Right Streaming Provider

1. Your provider is proactively monitoring your eventsnot just sitting around, waiting for you to reach out to them if there are problems with the live stream. A good live streaming provider will have a system in place for their support specialists to monitor a broadcast so, if something goes wrong, they will be ready to respond to the issues appropriately. For example, our team has a system in place that requires support specialists to check on an event at least every 20 minutes.

2. Your provider has a phone number you can call if you need to reach themnot an email-only option that forces you to wait 24-48 hours (or longer) to hear back from someone. Having someone get back with you after a few hours (or a few days!) may work if you’re getting your hot tub serviced, but it does not work for a live-streamed event with a shelf life of 90 minutes or so.

3. Your provider understands how important the user experience is. Does the video provider understand that your live stream should be more than a basic video player embedded in a basic web page? That may work in certain cases—but if immersing the user in the overall experience is important, your streaming provider should be able to accommodate you.

4. Your provider understands the power of your brand and wants to help you build and create that brand. A live stream may be the first opportunity your users have to experience whatever you’re providing—whether it’s a sporting event, business conference, or church service. Thus, you’ll want to give the best impression of your organization—and your streaming provider can help with that.

5. Your provider understands the whole spectrum of streaming, how each and every decision will impact your organization, and what you need to be prepared for. If you want to know what kind of equipment you’ll need to make something happen, how a pay-per-view user platform compares to a free one, or how you can best monetize through sponsorships or advertising, your streaming provider should know how these things impact you and be able to help you figure out the answers.

A Final Piece Of Advice

Do not underestimate the value of live support for your events.

It doesn’t matter how “plug and play” or “streamlined” a live streaming solution promises to be—there will be problems with your stream eventually. And if those problems coincide with a very important event or a critical time in that event, your ability to successfully deliver on your promise of a great user experience will be solely tied to your streaming provider. If they can proactively monitor your feed and troubleshoot any issues that arise, your users will continue to come back to your service. 

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 support and memorable experiences.