Which Video Streaming Software to Use
An important decision you'll need to make to ensure a successful live stream is which streaming video
software to use for encoding your broadcasts. There are a variety of choices available, all with different
pros and cons. Pricing for streaming video software varies widely as well. Additionally, each application
may run better on hardware compared to other apps.
Video Streaming Software
OBS Studio, Wirecast, and vMix are three of the best streaming video software packages. All three are functional
options for particular live streaming needs, but it's up to you to decide which one best fits your requirements.
OBS is a free and open-source live streaming video software package. While easy to use, it offers minimal features.
OBS supports a slightly smaller range of sources compared to for-pay software options, but has a special "game capture"
mode and the ability to insert an image slideshow.
One drawback of OBS is that it doesn't support streaming in multiple bitrates simultaneously. This can be a drawback
for some streamers, depending on their chosen online video platform. But as long as your computer and software can put
out a stream, SurferNETWORK can stream it!
Wirecast is easier to use than OBS, but it adds significantly more functionality and power in a paid tool.
Wirecast supports many input sources, including the Wirecast Cam, a mobile app that allows you to stream wirelessly
from an iPhone or iPad during a live broadcast. Wirecast also includes an image slideshow feature. Wirecast also has
native support for multi-bitrate streaming.
vMix is a highly powerful application, though it does take longer to learn than its cohorts. vMix supports a huge
range of inputs, including video cameras (via supported capture cards) running at up to 4K resolutions. vMix also supports
NDI (Network Device Interface) for sending video over gigabit ethernet networks.
vMix has native support for multi-bitrate streaming, which allows users to send out multiple simultaneous
versions of a live stream, each at a different quality, at the same time. While this process does use more bandwidth
and processing power, it also allows content to reach users with varying internet speeds and in various locations.
How to Choose the Best Streaming Video Software for You
Selecting the right streaming video software is an individual decision. To narrow down your options, it is important
to consider the following:
Make sure the software is recommended for use with your operating system, processor, and graphics card. Check you have
enough free disk space to support the software, as well as storage space for recorded videos.
You also need to consider the features you will need, especially if you are covering professional events or sports. Simulcasting,
for instance, allows you to stream to multiple destinations at once. OBS Studio and Wirecast both support as many simultaneous
sources as you can connect for your broadcasts. With Wirecast, you can even stream multiple, separate live streams from the same machine.
The SD, HD, 4K, and Pro versions of vMix each support up to 1000 total inputs, which should be more than enough for even the most
complex live presentation!
There are also some features that are specially designed for live sports streaming. OBS Studio supports instant replays and an
add-on called "Scoreboard Assistant" for scoreboards. Wirecast has a number of sports features, including customizable live scoreboards,
instant replays, and more. vMix has an instant replay feature supporting up to four camera angles simultaneously.
Slow-motion is also supported. Selected clips can also be exported for showcasing on social media. Scoreboards are supported via
templates or a build-your-own feature.
It is important to consider options that are within your pricing budget. OBS is free and open-source software. You can download
the application for free on as many devices as you like. You can also modify the code to create new features for your specific needs.
Wirecast offers two packages: Studio and Pro. Pro adds a few additional features not included in the Studio version. These include
additional support inputs, 3D set support, live scoreboards, instant replay, and audio effects.
vMix has the most complicated pricing structure of the encoding software we're comparing here. It comes in six versions: Basic,
Basic HD, SD, HD, 4K, and Pro. They do offer a 60-day free trial.
Streaming video software comes with a wide range of tools for professional broadcasting, and is highly complex.
It's essentially a real-time video editing system with control capabilities, audio and video mixing, inputs and sources from a
wide range of files and an encoding backend to stream over the internet. It will take some time to learn, so you can expect some
trial and error! Try out the trial versions of these software packages to see what feels best.