Paid vs. Free Technology to Go Live

livestreaming tools Nov 04, 2017

As Ian Anderson Gray says – it’s 2 things that stop marketers and brands from using live vid, “the fear and the gear.”

But launching your new live broadcasting venture couldn’t be any easier at the moment. There are a whole host of tools out there, free and paid, that can help you to launch new dynamic brand-building content.

If you can conquer the fear and embrace the spontaneous, impulsive nature of live vid then all that’s left is the gear…

Depending on how serious you want to get with your video marketing strategy, paid tools can give you more control and flexibility with your output, but free tools are a perfect introduction and way into the live vid arena.

Let’s take a look at some of the tools on the market:

Free tech for Budding Broadcasters

Dipping your toe into the live video sphere can feel less pressurized and scary when you’re using free tech. You’ll usually find simple interfaces to work with and find your feet with.

  • OBS

OBS is a really popular liv vid app to use, as it’s free, open source and it’s pretty simple to use when you’re just starting out. The interface is clean and easy to get to grips with - it’s got lots of features to play with and you can download up to 20 additional plug-ins too, so it supports loads of new functionality and gives you lots more options. 

You can launch a Facebook Live show via desktop and manage it from there too – share your screen with others and add multiple sources i.e microphones, webcams etc. One drawback is you can only broadcast to one platform at a time.

  • BeLive

BeLive also allows you to use it with a free trial option, but it only works with Facebook Live. That’s fine if that’s the only platform you’re looking to broadcast with. The free trial lets you broadcast twice a week and have up to 3 on-screen guests at a time. It’s easy to use and simple to try out if your broadcasting ambitions are pretty humble.

The paid version obviously gives you way more flexibility and functionality. You can brand your videos with custom logos, share your screen for instructional type vids and you can highlight comments and use a green room to hold additional guests in.

  • XSplit

When you’re not a very ‘technical’ person, XSplit is a recommended option. It’s pretty easy to use and the user design has beginners in mind, so the interface is simple. You can invite multiple streamers into your live vid. If you need a tool with custom JavaScript capabilities then XSplit is ideal too.

With the free version, there are naturally a lot of ads and you can’t stream to multiple platforms simultaneously, so if you’re trying out one platform at a time then this app can help you get used to new formats.

One big thing to look out for is the free license doesn’t let you use the app for commercial purposes, so be careful with that element.

  • FFSplit

FFSplit is free for you to use and it’s not a very resource-intensive piece of software, so it won’t slow down your desktop too much. The quality of the live video function isn’t perfect by any means, but you can enjoy simple, easy-to-use features such as hotkeys, webcam, and overlays and you can broadcast and record in 3 formats.

It only works with Windows, so it’s limited to the operating systems it supports.

Paid Tools for more Flexibility and Functionality

When you feel a bit more experienced with your live video output and you want to use more features and sophistication in your formats – you can enlist the help of lots of paid live vid tools.

  • Wirecast

Wirecast is pretty pricey at $495 but it can really help to professionalize your videos. It allows you to easily and seamlessly manage your live broadcast from your desktop, record in HD and you can broadcast to several live platforms at once, such as Facebook Live, Periscope etc.

It has really great compatibility with Facebook and it’s fully integrated with Facebook Live, so you can schedule and publish to certain groups and event pages and monitor reactions in real-time. If you want to chat to a co-host you can capture video and audio from Skype etc and integrate it into your Wirecast vid.

You’ll need a pretty powerful computer and big bandwidth to cope with the software though and you might need a dedicated graphics card too.

  • Ecamm Live

ECamm Live connects you to Facebook Live directly and you can easily broadcast via pages and profiles. The quality of the broadcast is pretty high and you can easily monitor comments without needing a second screen. You can share your screen and insert vids and images, which is great for instructional content.

This app only works with Macs and it’s difficult to add guests to your stream. If you want to do that you’ll have to use another third-party app.

  • Switcher

Switcher is really effective when you want to use iDevices to broadcast your live videos. It’s very simple to use and you can broadcast simultaneously to various platforms.  You can also wirelessly connect up to 4 other iOS devices and use them as multi-camera video sources too, so it’s sort of like turning your room into a recording studio which is pretty cool. Your laptop can be added as a source too, so if you have infographics or slides you want to include in your video, it’s easy to do.

  • Crowdcast

Crowdcast has great user-design and some really neat features to incorporate in your live videos. There are custom payment plans depending on your audience size too.

You can easily create live events to connect with your audience – once you’re broadcasting you can benefit from built-in engagement features, such as allowing you to bring audience members "up on stage" and virtually invite them and use polls and questions to quickly collect feedback and data. The app works really well as a webinar tool for these reasons.

You can live stream on several platforms and a quick, seamless payment system means that it’s really easy to manage paid live-events.]

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the live video apps you can access and there are lots more for you to explore. It really comes down to personal preference and you might find one interface much easier to use than another. I’d recommend playing around with a couple of apps and sticking with them to learn more about their features, instead of getting overwhelmed by the amount of choice.

It’s also worth being realistic about your initial live video goals. If an app doesn’t stream to lots of platforms simultaneously then that might not be a problem at the beginning of your live video project, as you’re probably on a learning curve and might be aiming for one platform i.e Facebook Live.

Whichever app you choose, live video is a fun and creative way to engage with your audience. Enjoy!

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