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How to Live Stream an Event

Last updated June 28th, 2021

Streaming is a mature technology that has been around long enough to be stable and have most of the kinks worked out of it. Streaming is also a growing industry with enough competition to keep standards high and features plentiful. All useful elements if you’re planning to live stream an event.

If you’re new to live streaming, this page is for you. We will walk you through the main considerations you need to plan for if you’re to hold a successful livestream.

Whether it’s a Battle of the Bands, eSports, comedy show, music performance or something else entirely, live streaming is actually quite straightforward. If you’re an experienced event planner, this type of event should prove no problem at all!

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Choose your platform

There are dozens of platforms out there that can support livestreams. Free options include Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Periscope, YouTube Live Events and many others.

Premium offerings include Vualto, IBM Video, Brightcove, Vimeo and many others.

Your choice will depend on the type of event, the intended audience, whether it is ticketed or not and a range of other considerations.

Free services offer the majority of the same tools as premium services. However, those premium services will handle challenges such as entry restriction, bandwidth, congestion and stability much better.

Choose your equipment

Live streams can be broadcast in one of two ways, they can use software to share screens or be recorded in the traditional way with cameras. Both work well in their own right but won’t work with every event type.

For example, live streaming gaming or eSports can be done with a powerful computer, specific software and a broadband link to the streaming platform. Software such as OBS Studio, XSplit or Lightstream Studio make easy work of setting up desktop sharing with broadcast quality.

Live events will work better with the traditional camera and PA setup. The benefit here is that recording will use exactly the same tools and techniques as a live event but will send the feed to the livestream rather than to other sources.

Choose your encoder

One place where live events and livestreams diverge is in encoding. A live event can be broadcast in the same format the camera records. A livestream will need to use an efficient format such as MP4 or H.264.

For this you will need an encoder. This can be hardware or software and will need to sit between the recording device and the livestream feed. It will convert the recording into the correct format for streaming before sending it to the platform.

This guide goes into great detail on encoders and is well worth a read.

Don’t forget your embed code

Embed codes can be added to your livestream to restrict access to the general public. The code is embedded into the video to prevent unauthorised access. Depending on your event, you will either need such a code or not.

If you’re holding a ticketed livestream or one with an exclusive audience, you will definitely need an embed code. If you’re holding a free live event, you likely won’t need a code.

Most premium live event platforms have the ability to add an embed code to the stream using a simple checkbox. All you need to do then is send the code to attendees for them to enter into the video player so they can view the event.

Other considerations for a live stream event

You will still need technical people to help manage the recording and broadcast. You will still need to factor in disaster recovery and provision for spare equipment, fallback internet connections and all the good stuff we do every day in event planning.

You will still need to book and manage talent, ensure everyone is where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing and that the event is being monitored for quality and stability.

Then there’s engagement. Having people around to help drive social channels, chat to the audience via the platform’s app or on event social, managing scheduling, budgets, ticketing, marketing, analytics and the many hundreds of smaller tasks inherent in our industry.

Organising a live stream event

Organising a live stream event is very straightforward and will use many of your existing event management skills. It also requires some different skills and a new way of looking at events. It is both easier to organise and more difficult and will provide some unique challenges.

As a payoff, you’re learning some new skills that will play a part in the future of the events industry. Live streaming was already a popular event medium before coronavirus but the situation has accelerated the appetite for virtual events and the development of technologies to deliver them!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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