Welcome to Streaming 101. In this series of guides, I will share my knowledge and experience to help you get started in the world of live broadcasting (or more simply. streaming).
I’ll be covering pretty much everything I know, from taking the first steps and getting started, to technical setups and best practices. Much of what I know has come from experimentation, talking with other streamers who’ve been in the game a while, and learning from mistakes. With this series of guides, you can be sure that you’re starting on the right foot.
What is live broadcasting (streaming)?
There are several names for the activity we’re about to discuss and explore. Broadcaster, Streamer, Livestreamer, Twitch Streamer – the list goes on, but they all mean the same thing. These words are what are used to describe someone who sends digital video for others to watch in real-time via the Internet.
Probably one of the most simplest ways to describe being a streamer is that you produce a show, and instead of watching it on television, the audience will watch it on their computer, mobile phone, tablet, over the Internet.
As part of streaming, the broadcaster (the host) will capture whatever they’re doing on their computer (typically gameplay from a video game) and combine it with video from their webcam, and put it together for others to watch.
During streams, the broadcaster will typically interact with their viewers via an integrated chat room for their “channel”, which is a fancy name for the page that is tied to their account.
The broadcaster will usually adhere to a streaming schedule, where their followers (or communities) will watch the broadcaster live at specific times of day or certain days of the week.
Why do people choose to stream?
One of the most common questions from someone who doesn’t understand the concept of broadcasting or streaming is the why – or more specifically, “why would anyone watch someone else play video games?”. These questions are usually followed by dismissive comments like “that’s stupid” or something else indicating they wouldn’t waste their time.
There are many reasons as to why an individual would take up streaming or broadcasting.
First off, and possibly the most prominent of reasons, is the social interaction between the broadcaster and their audience. Usually when a streamer is playing a video game, they’re including their live reactions to events in-game and providing commentary for their viewership. Some of these moments are highly entertaining, and in some cases, the personalities that show on-screen are often a key factor in creating that entertainment.
Other reasons for streaming include being able to show off their skills at a certain video game, or even crafting in the Creative category. Some streamers use their platform as a way of building confidence in themselves where in real life they’re quite shy or bashful. The reasons are endless, and the reason why is usually their own, or a mix of them all.
Where do people stream?
There are a number of services available for people to stream to.
The biggest and most known service is Twitch (or Twitch.tv), which is owned by Amazon. Twitch has one of the largest number of active users per day, and the largest number of accounts registered. Twitch (technically) employs a select number of broadcasters as Partnered Streamers. Being a Twitch Partner means your channel has large enough following or community behind it on a consistent basis, making Twitch Partner’s the VIPs of the site. Not everyone makes it to Twitch Partnership, but we’ll touch more on this in a later guide.
Mixer, or as it was previously known, Beam.pro, is owned by Microsoft. Mixer was launched as a direct competitor to Twitch and is natively integrated into Xbox One consoles as a primary streaming tool. Mixer has a bit more interactivity and lower broadcast delay between the streamer and viewer, but it’s community isn’t as big. It *is* shaping up to be a serious contender, however.
YouTube Gaming, which is soon to be integrated into the main YouTube website where currently it’s a segregated component of the YouTube brand, is also another competitor launched in direct competition with Twitch. YouTube Gaming has an equal-if-not-greater number of registered accounts thanks in part to the registrations of Google users and existing YouTube users. It offers a similar feature set to Twitch where select broadcasters can become “Sponsored” streamers, similar to Partnered Streamers on Twitch.
You also have sites like Hitbox, uStream, Livestream, and so many more.
In the next part…
In the next part, we’ll be talking about getting your feet on the ground in the world of streaming. Where to start, what applications you can use, and what services are available. We’ll be focusing most of the guide for Twitch, however we may reference other services occasionally.