What is the best platform to stream on?

Are you thinking of live streaming, but don’t know which streaming service you should use? You have come to the right place. In this article we will be analyzing every major streaming service out there, so you can make an informed decision when picking a home for your stream.

In many ways, live streaming is heading into its golden age. Just a couple of years back, the live streaming industry wasn’t booming as it is today. Now, it seems almost every social media or creator-centered platform has some form of live streaming. However, they aren’t all made equal. Some streaming services are better than others depending on your goals, and your decision on which one to use really depends on what you are looking for. In this article, we will take a hard look at YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Mixer, Instagram, Periscope, and Vimeo and determine the pros and cons of all of them.

Twitch

Twitch

Twitch is by far one of the most popular streaming platforms out there. While it’s highly regarded as a streaming platform for gamers, it is branching out into other genres. Twitch is designed well with a strong interface, allowing streams to be set up quickly and users to find those streams while browsing. There’s also a matured monetization system streamers can use if they meet Twitch’s partnership requirements. Once partnered, streamers can use channel subscriptions, emotes, bits, and ads to earn money on the platform.

However, since Twitch is so popular amongst the creator community, the competition is stiff, to say the least. The community also sometimes has a problem with Twitch’s moderation. Streamers have been banned for questionable reasons, only to later be reinstated.

Pros

  • Huge viewer population
  • Strong interface
  • Chat interactivity
  • Monetization
  • Analytics
  • Up to 48 hours of live streaming supported

Cons

  • Huge creator population / competition
  • Inconsistent moderation

While Twitch does house more than gaming streams, its general audience primarily uses it to watch gaming streams. So you could stream non-gaming content from Twitch and get a following there, but it may be harder.

Who should use it?

  • Gaming-focused streamers
  • Professionals
  • Game event organizers

Who shouldn’t use it?

  • Beginning streamers without an initial community

YouTube Live

YouTube Live

YouTube is another juggernaut streaming platform. While not as popular as Twitch for live streaming, YouTube has a huge community of creators and viewers. Unlike Twitch, YouTube Live isn’t known for a specific genre of streaming. Also, since YouTube is owned by Google, it’s much easier for the general public to find your streams outside of YouTube. YouTube additionally offers monetization to streamers who are in their partnered program.

However, as with Twitch, there’s stiff competition on YouTube considering how many creators use the platform. Also like Twitch, maybe even more so, YouTube is criticized by its community for its algorithmic moderation. Many streamers have lost all their ad revenue due to a false copyright claim, for instance.

Pros

  • Friendly to all streaming genres
  • Very favored in Google searches
  • Monetization
  • Huge viewer population

Cons

  • Huge creator population / competition
  • Inconsistent moderation

YouTube is generally friendly to all kinds of genres, so there’s an audience for almost any streamer on YouTube. However, as we said before, YouTube has stiff competition and has a shaky moderation system. Specifically, for channels that like to talk about controversial topics in the news or anyone that uses material from other sources, YouTube could very well demonetize a number of your videos. Many creators have had to go through YouTube’s claims system even when they used source material under fair use.

Who should use it

  • Any genre of streamer
  • Live event organizers

Who shouldn’t use it

  • Talk channels / podcasters / small new broadcasters

Mixer

Mixer

Mixer is an emerging streaming service from Microsoft. While it doesn’t have a huge community of viewers, it also doesn’t have a huge community of creators either, meaning less competition. Mixer has, however, been growing in recent months, just recently landing huge deals with streamers like Ninja and Shroud. Also, the platform does offer monetization, but it isn’t as extensive as Twitch or YouTube. Streamers receive embers that they can later cash out and earn money that way.

One of the major setbacks of Mixer is that it’s hard for viewers to find your older streams. The interface, while doing a good job organizing streams based on what game is being played, doesn’t do a good job promoting those streams once they’re recorded. Also, since Mixer is owned by Microsoft, it becomes more complicated to stream on Mixer when using any other console besides an Xbox.

Pros

  • Small creator population / less competition
  • Direct compatibility with Xbox
  • Split-screen streaming with up to 3 people
  • Monetization

Cons

  • Small viewer population
  • Difficult to find older content and VODs
  • Hard to stream from other consoles

Mixer is a gaming-focused streaming platform, even more so than Twitch. Any non-gamer looking for a streaming platform should avoid Mixer at this time.

Who should use it

  • Xbox streamers
  • New gaming streamers look to build an audience

Who shouldn’t use it?

  • Non-gaming streamers

Instagram Live

Instagram Live

Similar to Periscope in many ways, Instagram Live is less geared towards content streaming and more towards personal streaming. Streamers can use Instagram Live to connect directly with their audience on Instagram and on Facebook. It is a very fast and easy way to talk with your followers and give them updates about your channel or things in general.

However, if you don’t have a big social media following, then you probably won’t get much use out of it right away. As you grow, it’s important to connect with your audience and establish a personal connection with them. Instagram Live can do that.

Pros

  • Can be uploaded to Facebook quick

Cons

  • Requires a social following for best results

New streamers might not get much benefit from live streaming on Instagram in the beginning if your primary focus something like streaming games. However, once your following begins to grow, Instagram Live will keep your audience engaged on a more personal level with you.

Who should use it?

  • Professionals
  • Streamers with a social media following

Who shouldn’t use it?

  • New streamers with no following

Facebook Live

Facebook Live

Facebook Live is another streaming service coming from a social media platform. While Facebook has tried and overtake YouTube as the top video streaming platform, it’s still not quite there yet. However, it does offer some major benefits that other streaming platforms don’t have. For creators or brands, they can much easier broadcast to their communities because Facebook is primarily a social media site. Friends and family can easily share streams to each other.

However, it’s hard for people to find your streams outside of your tight community on Facebook. Facebook Live’s interface isn’t very friendly to people searching for a streamer they’ve never heard of before. However, Facebook is open to many different genres of streams, like YouTube, and can help build a streamer’s community if they use Facebook Live both as a streaming tool and a social media tool.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Easy to engage with audience

Cons

  • Difficult to find older content and new streamers

Since it is so hard to find new streamers on Facebook Live, it is better to start on Facebook with at least a small community of viewers. It is very hard for a streamer to build their community just on Facebook Live.

Who should use it

  • Streamers with a community on Facebook

Who shouldn’t use it

  • Streamers starting out with no community

Periscope

Periscope

Compared to the other streaming platforms, Periscope is a more personal live streaming application. It integrates right into Twitter and is easy to share across other social media. However, you can still broadcast videos to a targeted audience, adding some control over where the stream is being shown. However, streamers overall have little control over who can and can’t see their streams.

What really makes Periscope more for personal streaming and less professional is its recorded streams are only available up to 24 hours after the stream has ended. After that, the stream is deleted. That makes it nearly impossible for any streamer to build an audience on Periscope. However, Periscope can be effective for a streamer when used with another platform, acting as a direct, easy way for creators to connect with their audience.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Simple to link to stream
  • Videos can last as long as you want

Cons

  • No monetization
  • Streams are deleted after 24 hours
  • Limited control over who can access the stream

Who should use it?

  • General public
  • Steamers wanting to connect with audience

Who shouldn’t use it?

  • Content streamers not using another social platform

Vimeo

Vimeo

Out of all the live streaming platforms, Vimeo is definitely one of the more robust and professional ones. Vimeo is geared towards creators and businesses looking to stream to their social media or embedded on sites. While there are some people that watch videos on Vimeo, they are usually embedded elsewhere. One of the major benefits of using Vimeo is its customization options. Brands can fully customize the live stream player so they can stay on-brand. Additionally, there are no overages or ads.

One of the downsides to Vimeo is it costs money to use. While they do offer free accounts, brands are required to pay. Vimeo has a limited amount of storage offered. You have to pay more to increase that storage. Subscription plans range from $7 a month to $75.

Pros

  • No advertisements
  • More control over how the video is shared and embedded
  • Works with Google analytics

Cons

  • Small viewer base on platform
  • Brands must have PRO accounts
  • Premium plan has a capped maximum upload limit

If you use Vimeo, you’re likely going to share the video somewhere else. It’s also more geared towards professionals and brands, since professionals usually have a social media following they can share to and brands usually have websites where they can embed the video.

Who should use it?

  • Brands looking to promote business
  • Professionals

Who shouldn’t use it?

  • General streamers

Every live streaming platform we just talked about has their purposes. Whatever live streaming platform you choose to stream on, be sure that you will get the most use out of the platform based on your overall goals as a streamer.

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