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– Webcasting (Part 2 of 7) –

Building Blocks of Webcasting

Ready, set, Webcast! When you’re preparing to use Webcasting for the first time, the ins and outs may feel a smidge overwhelming. And, we know that understanding all the moving parts and how they work together can be frustrating. This is especially true when it feels like everyone else (including your four-legged assistant) seems to be more tech-savvy and has no problem comprehending live stream setups.

We’re here to tell you that we understand that learning new technologies (or any new thing) can feel like a lot, and it’s both normal and okay. That’s why today, we’re breaking down the three main components of Live Streaming to help you master what you need to know to get your webcast up and running smoothly.

Three Main Components of Webcasting

There are really only three main components of most webcasts that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with:

  • The Network
  • The Platform
  • The Hardware

We’re digging deep into each of these items to show you what you need to know to start webcasting on the right foot.

The Network

The first key component of webcasting is the network that you’ll be using to host your livestream. In its simplest terms, this is Internet access. However, you must be sure your network meets the requirements to web cast successfully.

Ultimately, the requirements boil down to one thing—bandwidth. You’ve almost certainly heard or even used this term before, however, to be clear, bandwidth is the capacity of your network for sending and receiving (downloading or uploading) data during a given period.

To get more technical, we measure bandwidth in bits, or packages of data, per second (bits/s) or multiples of it (kbit/s, Mbit/s, etc.). A higher number means you have higher speeds for uploading and downloading data. Find out more about our recommended network speeds later in this blog series.

We also need to talk about reliability. You must have a dependable network in order to have a successful webcast. Of course, outages happen. However, if you know that your wifi network is spotty, or gets disrupted if your cat walks by at the wrong time, then you may want to plan accordingly. Consider plugging in directly to your router to have an uninterrupted live broadcast on the internet.

The Platform

The second component of webcasting is your platform, or where viewers can go to watch and interact with your live stream.

There are tons of different streaming platforms for all kinds of different event streams, so how do you choose which streaming software to use? You’ll want to consider several aspects to determine the best platform for your webcast. You may want to familiarize yourself with a few platforms if you’ll be hosting various types of meetings for different audiences.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Intended target audience
  • Sensitivity level of information you’re sharing
  • Quality of stream
  • Anticipated number of viewers and participants

Top Streaming Software

So can you and your four-legged IT teammates choose the best web casting software?

Some streaming platforms are oriented more towards business, while others are better for mass consumption. Understanding the different streaming platforms available is essential for knowing which one to use for your event.

If your company already uses a streaming or video conferencing platform, it may be a good idea to start with that one. However, if you don’t use webinar software already, here are some of the most popular business-oriented streaming platforms:

Zoom

(https://zoom.us) – Great for webinars, video meetings, and screen sharing for 2 or more participants.

Skype Business

(https://www.skype.com/en/business) – A Microsoft-integrated platform that allows instant messaging, audio and video calling, online meetings, and extensive web conferencing.

Cisco Webex

(https://www.webex.com) – Professional video conferencing for businesses that lets you see your colleagues and host productive meetings.

Blue Jeans

(https://www.bluejeans.com/features/streaming) – An awesome solution for broadcasting live on social media, Blue Jeans integrates with Facebook Live to create a highly interactive experience.

Go To Meeting

(https://www.gotomeeting.com) – Go to Meeting is a part of the Citrix suite of meeting and broadcasting products. This version includes cloud-based video and audio conferencing, and you can also upgrade to other products like Go to Webinar for larger-scale webinar services.

Google Hangouts

(https://hangouts.google.com) – Google Hangouts give you a real-time collaborative experience for video calls and screen sharing.

Mass Consumption Web Cast Platforms

Other streaming platforms gear more towards mass consumption via social media. Think live videos of your events, whether fundraising, sporting, music, your most excellent TED talk, or even viral cat videos.

As long as you’re not sharing sensitive or confidential information, these streaming platforms are great options: 

Facebook Live

(https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live) – If you’re active on Facebook, you’ve seen people go live for a range of things from documenting ducks crossing the road to important media conferences, and just about everything in between. You can capitalize on the power of social media to draw attention to your event.

YouTube Live

(https://www.youtube.com/live) – Using the popular YouTube platform, you can reach your subscribers in real-time with a live broadcast on the internet.

Twitch

(https://www.twitch.tv) – Twitch is Amazon’s answer to YouTube and similarly offers you a powerful way to use webcasting to share your news and events.

The Hardware

Simply put, the hardware is the equipment you use for a live stream, which will encode and manage the video and audio signals.

For some of your events, your computer may be all the hardware you need, complete with its built-in camera and microphone. However, when you want to achieve the most professional output possible, you’ll want to consider investing in an AV package that consists of external cameras, microphones, video switchers, and computers.

Ultimately, this powerful package, combined with your platform, will give you complete control of:

Audio Mixing

– All audio sources including live microphones, video playback and music are combined for a complete “mix” of the webcast event.

Video Switching

– All video sources from cameras, videos and presentations are switched as necessary to create one seamless video source for your live stream.
Additional Graphics – Presenter names, event branding, attendee instructions and info and more can be added to (and enhance) the video stream.

Encoding

– Video and audio are merged and encoded to be uploaded to your streaming platform of choice.

The bottom line here is that the three components of a webcast are Network, Platform, and all of the Gear. Plus you, of course!

The first step in determining your needs is to outline your goals for your web event. From there, it’s very easy to select the right components for your live stream.

For a discussion on webcast applications, continue with our next blog on Remote Webcasting.

And, of course, if you need help determining how to get started and your needs, we offer consulting services. Just contact us to get started!

Check out our full suite of Webcasting Services.

Ready to use webcasting for your business?

Get more information about our services and pricing.

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