Free Live Streaming Service Comparison

So many online platforms for live streaming exist, but which to choose? Some streaming services generate URLs that you can share to direct users to your streaming event, and almost all include features for audience participation and interaction while the event is streaming.

Here's our rundown of the pros & cons of some of the most popular services your audience may already be using.

YouTube Live

YouTube is one of the most popular video services in the world and offers a powerful tool for creating and managing video content, including live streams. Live streams can be broadcast using your webcam, and YouTube also supports live stream encoders. After requesting Live capability there is a 24 hour waiting period for it to be activated on your YouTube account.

Pros:

  • Encoder streaming allows users to broadcast their entire desktop and can also be used to save streamed content locally for later access and editing
  • Live comment capabilities encourage real-time participation among viewers
  • Easy to share supplemental documentation or links to contribution pages with audience
  • Can be monetized

Cons:

  • Private streaming caps at 5 viewers
  • Mobile phone streaming isn't available unless you have 1,000 subscribers
  • Ads play during monetized videos

Facebook Live

Facebook Live streaming is available on both desktop and mobile platforms and can be used without downloading any special software.

Pros

  • Mobile phone friendly
  • Simple interface and flexibility
  • Live comment capabilities encourage real-time participation among viewers
  • Easy to share supplemental documentation or links to contribution pages with audience

Cons:

  • Live streaming only – a sister platform, Facebook Video, must be used for recorded content
  • Monetization requires at least 300 viewers

Instagram and Twitter Live

Both Instagram Live and Twitter Live can be great supplemental streaming options to ensure accessibility across social media platforms. However, due to limitations with these tools they may not be ideal as your event's sole streaming option.

Instagram Live

  • Provides options for audience interaction
  • Easy to access for viewers familiar with that platform
  • No way to share a link with the audience while streaming to encourage contribution
  • No link to the streaming feed is created to share outside of Instagram
  • Only available on mobile devices

Twitter Live

  • Once a live video is started it's added to your Twitter feed
  • Tweet links and embed codes can be shared to bring viewers to Twitter
  • Links to contribution pages can be shared in the live stream tweet's content
  • Live videos can only be created from mobile devices, but can be viewed on all devices