The Top 5 Video Broadcasting Software for Live Events

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So you have a live event to broadcast, and you want it to go as seamlessly as it possibly can. Who wouldn’t? But before you can share your earth-shattering event with the world, there are certain tools you need to have on hand, and these tools should have the features you need to ensure that seamless broadcast. Aside from the obvious like your cameras, mics, a streaming platform like Primcast (among other things), you should have solid encoding gear.

Now, this can be a software or hardware encoder depending on your needs or personal preference, but here we will focus on the pros and cons of the best broadcasting software out there so you can get a better picture of which is best for you, and ultimately make it easier to make the most informed decision.

Software runs on your desktop or laptop. It is often low cost, but can be on the higher end for more professional, heavy duty service. For many services, this means it can easily be upgraded. It is generally more customizable than hardware, and is able to change some features of codecs. In general, event producers should be on the lookout for software that is user-friendly but has advanced features.

The process of live streaming is streamlined with quality software. For one thing, users can use one application for multiple steps in said process, including capturing video content and publishing. At the same time, it allows the user to stream their video content to a number of different platforms. There are some functions of software encoders in particular which make for much better quality live video streaming. This can be a number of things, including simultaneous broadcasting and live camera switching. As we discuss the pros and cons of each service, take note of which features would best fulfill your requirements.

XSplit

  • Pros
    • Personal and premium versions offer superior audio codec support, full HD broadcasting, and professional level production tools
    • Premium account allows you to create up to 12 scenes
    • Can switch between scenes while broadcasting live
    • Simultaneous broadcast with a paid license—so you can stream to multiple services at the same time
    • Plugins can extend functionality, including but not limited to slideshows and playlists
    • Has some selection of built-in transitions such as wave and fade which can add video content value
    • Supports interactive flash files – the user can interact with .swf using keyboard and mouse inputs
    • Video and audio can be delayed with source delay support
    • 3D positioning
    • Skype interaction
  • Cons
    • Premium version required for commercial use
    • Free version overlays ads on your stream
    • Stream delay behind a paywall
    • Plugin needed to add text
    • 1080p limit
    • Yearly registration fee
    • Cannot preview other scenes while broadcasting
  • Operates on
    • Windows
  • Pricing
    • Limited free version
    • 12 months of Personal – $39.96
    • 12 months of Premium – $60

Wirecast

  • Pros
    • High level of user friendliness—easy to use
    • Pre-loaded professional transitions and lower thirds, with the option to add your own
    • Integrated titling tool
    • Social media integration
    • Unlimited sources—Wirecast Cam App allows input feeds from many sources, including cameras, video files, picture files, iOS devices, and your desktop
    • Easy to use chroma key for green screen effects
    • Ability to create 3D titles and live scoreboards
    • Instant replay
    • IP cameras and web streams (RTMP, MMS, HTTP)
    • Supports live switching
    • Live scoreboard overlay feature
    • Functionality can be extended via plugins
    • Can create and automate playlists
    • 3D virtual sets
    • Support for all common encoding formats
    • Recording to disk
  • Cons
    • Expensive
    • Difficult to queue or add playlist of shots
    • Can crash when editing properties of shots while broadcasting
    • Does not integrate with Adobe’s Flash Media Live Encoder
  • Operates on
    • Windows 7 or later
    • Mac OS El Capital or later
  • Pricing
    • Studio – $495
    • Pro – $995

Open Broadcaster Software

  • Pros
    • Free and open source
    • Easy to use for beginners
    • Unlimited number of sources and scenes
    • Live RTMP streaming to most outlets
    • Supports Intel Quick Sync
    • Can make your own overlays and buttons
    • Can be integrated with most capture card setups
    • Easy to find configuration & troubleshooting guides online
    • Has 20+ plugins that enhance functionality, including an audio mixer plugin
    • Light resource usage
    • Supports NVIDIA’s NVENC
    • Intelligent enough to figure out best stream settings
    • Scene previewing allowed in studio mode
  • Cons
    • No support for IP or network cameras yet
    • Nearly impossible to queue or add playlist of shots
    • Can’t output to multiple streams at once
    • Can’t link to an audio file as a source
    • Uses more CPU
    • Lower quality encoding
  • Operates on
    • Windows Vista or later, OSX, and Linux
  • Price
    • Free

vMIX

  • Pros
    • Support for HD and 4k resolution in paid plans
    • Ability to add video effect to inputs
    • NDI and IP source support
    • Efficient H.264 encoding
    • Transitions and green screen (chroma key) support
    • Remote control via web interface
    • Picture-in-picture and multiview, including overlays
    • vMix Social offers social media integration
    • With vMix Replay, you can select up to four cameras to run a buffer of selected footage, ie sports replays
    • DVD playback
    • Compatible with essentially every file format
    • Live video effects such as zoom, rotate, pan, and crop
    • Support for a touchscreen web interface
    • Graphics accelerated
  • Cons
    • Only operates on Windows
    • Expensive
    • Professional level features are more complex than others, with a steeper learning curve
  • Operates on
    • Windows
  • Pricing
    • Free basic version
    • Basic HD version – $60
    • vMix Pro – $1200

Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder

  • Pros
    • Support for popular codecs including: VP6, H.264, Nellymoser, and MP3, as well as additional code AAD and HE-AAv plugins
    • Support for multiple bitrate encoding, up to three streams at once
    • Auto-adjusted delivery bandwith
    • DVR functionality
    • Auto restart in case of crashing
    • Supported by essentially every live stream video host
    • Minimal setup time with the ability to import XML files into the encoder to connect your software with your video host account
    • Basic, which works for live event productions with basic requirements.
    • Advanced broadcasts with multiple camera feeds and complex workflow will need to look elsewhere*
  • Cons
    • Limited features
    • Not for advanced broadcasts with multiple camera feeds
    • Prone to crashing
  • Operates on
    • Windows and Mac OS
  • Pricing
    • Free

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