Live streaming has become a very important way to expand the reach of big events. You can include a virtual audience from around the world for a live look-in at a charity event, or open your doors to participants who can't travel to a conference or company function. That can present extra challenges, though, so In order to provide a flawless experience, you need to know how to improve live streaming.
Why? Because streaming quality not only affects audience enjoyment, it reflects on your brand. Even sketchy transmission can send your content out to more people, but technically excellent streaming will make them feel like they’re right there with you.
So, How to Improve Live Streaming? Plan Ahead!
Every event planner knows that success is carefully crafted. And streaming your event is not a matter of flipping a “go live” switch. Quality depends entirely on technical preparation. Well, that and top-quality content that you’ll be streaming – since you can’t expect less-than-stellar material to “travel” well.
With proper preparation, you’ll be ready to start your event and stream right on time, and that shows respect to your audience, near or far.
Don’t forget to market your live stream option in advance, too, to build excitement and audience. It’s no good if no one’s watching.
Ensuring Sound and Video that Deliver the Best
Transmission is critical. You simply must have a reliable internet connection with enough upload bandwidth. Wired is best because wi-fi is vulnerable to interruptions. But if that's not possible, the closer you are to the router the lower your risk of problems. For bandwidth, you’ll want at least twice your broadcast bit-rate (the rate of data transfer). Shut down unneeded browsers, apps, and devices that can steal bandwidth from your live stream.
Use a good quality (at least full HD) camera for best image resolution. But remember that not everyone has a state-of-the-art computer or internet connection. Since you want to reach as many folks as possible, plan to stream your event in both standard and high-definition. An online video platform (OVP) can automatically detect each remote viewer’s internet speed and adjust video quality to match.
Testing, testing . . . schedule a run-through, just as you do for the rest of your production. You want sound, lighting, video, and distribution quality to be as flawless as possible. And make sure you’ll have access to real-time technical support when you’re live, just in case there’s a problem your AV team can’t fix.
How to Stop Buffering when Streaming
Arrrrgh! Nothing is more irritating than the fits and starts caused by buffering. As we’ve already noted, you can’t control your viewer’s equipment or internet speed, but there are several steps you can take to prevent dreaded buffering, some of which we’ve already mentioned:
- Use adaptive bit-rate streaming that adjusts on the fly to avoid interruptions.
- Crucial as bandwidth is, keep it under 1 Mbps so it is more easily accessible on any screen, including increasingly popular mobile devices.
- Ensure your upload speed is double the bit-rate, because less could cause the distribution to be broken up into “packets” (the buffered segments viewers see).
- Set keyframe intervals to 2 or 3 seconds. (This can get tricky, so it’s a detail for your AV team to address.)
- Don’t overwork your encoder. Its primary job is to “translate” video coding for transmission across the internet and to the viewer’s screen. If the encoder has to simultaneously perform other tasks (such as recording the live stream), that reduces its ability to handle job #1. If you need to do both, use a heavy-duty encoder that can handle the extra load.
You Don’t Have to Be Your Own Engineer
As the event planner, you need to know your goals, your audience, and what it will take – generally speaking, at least – to create the production you have in mind. You need to understand how live streaming works, but you don't need to make it work. An experienced AV team can engineer the details and execute the plan. They know how to improve live streaming so that the event attendees experience – in person or remotely – is virtually flawless.