The Complete Guide to Live Streaming:
Back to the viewers. Because we don’t know where they’re located, there’s still the issue of distance. The farther your audience is from the media server, the longer it will take to deliver the live stream. This can cause latency and buffering.
To resolve the latency inherent to global delivery, many broadcasters employ a content delivery network (CDN).
What Is a CDN?
As the name suggests, a CDN is a system of geographically distributed servers used to transport media files. This removes the bottleneck of traffic that can result when delivering streams with a single server, as CDNs only require a single stream for each rendition of an outbound video.
These large networks help truncate the time it takes to deliver video streams from origin to end users. Sharing the workload across a network of servers also improves scalability should viewership increase.
Benefits of Using a CDN for Live Streaming
- Scalability: Employing a CDN is the fastest, most reliable way to get your content in front of numerous viewers — even with viewership spikes.
- Speed: CDNs use speedy superhighways to deliver content to vast audiences across the globe
- Quality: Streaming through a CDN allows you to achieve the highest sound quality and video resolution possible, while minimizing buffering and delays.
- Security: A CDN can help prevent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which occur when a site or resource is flooded by multiple, simultaneous attempts to breach it.
Reasons Not to Use a CDN
- Small-scale streaming: If you have a small number of viewers and/or your geographic scale is limited, you probably don’t need a CDN. The more elements you introduce into your live streaming workflow, the more opportunities for failure — so why do so unless you have to?
- Limited budget: We recommend that you compare your own egress cost to the cost of a CDN, as this can vary based on deployment. There are both paid and free CDN options available.
Even if you forgo a CDN, other strategies can be employed to reach a broad audience. Many content distributors leverage social media platforms to ensure scalability, speed, and quality without breaking the bank. Simulcasting makes its easy.
What Is Simulcasting?
Simulcasting is the ability to take one video stream and broadcast it to multiple destinations at the same time — thereby maximizing your impact. This allows you to reach a broader audience, no matter which platform or service your viewers prefer.
Live-streaming social platforms are everywhere, with both wide-ranging and niche applications. While Facebook connects you with the largest general audience, Twitter and Periscope are top destinations for news coverage and events. Meanwhile, Twitch is dedicated to gaming. And let’s not forget about YouTube — which has become a search engine in its own right.
While ‘the more the merrier’ might be an intuitive approach, you should only stream to the destinations that make sense for your audience. Broadcasting in the wrong context can result in negative feedback and wasted resources.
It’s also worth noting that the process of simulcasting can be complex. Multi-destination broadcasting requires massive amounts of bandwidth and is prone to errors. That’s why it’s important to start with the right tools.
Whether via a CDN, simulcasting, or both, the last step to consider is your stream’s final destination: playback.