Live Streaming Basics

Simple ways to scale your live streaming project

Michael Mitrakos
June 12, 2024
5 min read

Experience matters

In his autobiography, Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen said performing the Superbowl halftime show in 2009 was one of the most stressful shows he ever did. There were only a few minutes to set everything up, and the show was broadcast live to 100 million people.

The Superbowl halftime show is clearly an extreme case, but nevertheless illustrates how stressful live productions can be.  With a long list of interdependent systems, each with multiple points of failure, and no chance to go back in time to fix things, streaming live video is a highwire act start to finish.

For these reasons, experience matters when producing and delivering a livestream.  

Before we dive into the challenges of live streaming an event, let’s break the endeavor into two parts.  The first part, production, is the work of capturing and assembling video into a well told story.  The other part, delivery, is everything needed to deliver the video to the viewer.  There is no question that quality production is an essential element of a successful live stream.  It is not the subject of this post however.  This post will dig into everything that happens while delivering the production to the viewer.

Having faced just about every live video delivery hurdle imaginable including bandwidth constraints, hardware failures, software incompatibilities, server issues, and platform failures, we have stood in your shoes and built our platform to enable the delivery of video livestreams with as little stress as possible.  We also know that no two projects are the same and having an experienced and capable partner is essential to live streaming success.  

In this post we have picked out a few specific challenges that can elude the standard checklist.  

Scale

As your audience grows in size and geographic diversity, things will get complicated fast.  Delivering a livestream to the far reaches of the globe without latency and buffering issues is a complex endeavor and often the viewer’s challenges are not obvious to the streamer.  Tested and proven engineering and infrastructure are needed to deliver thousands of streams and wide geographic coverage for large audiences.  Proper instrumentation is essential (see “Accelerate the Learning Curve” below), particularly if you aspire to interact with your viewers (see “Communicate Both Directions” below).

Monetize Custom Experiences

It is much easier to dream up custom experiences that your viewers would pay for than to make a paywall seamless or monetize sponsored content.  Your delivery platform must enable you to tailor livestreams with branding and take advantage of sponsorship and ad placements.  For those considering the next level we have fully developed features that: offer premium content with video blurring, video snippets, and premium (paid) ad-free experiences.  

Accelerate the Learning Curve

Sending your content out into the universe is stressful because in many cases you cannot see and measure what is happening on the other end.  As traffic spikes, your streaming platform must have a powerful dashboard to track and monitor individual livestreams on every device in real time. It is essential to have comprehensive analytics to investigate issues, debug, and deliver a high quality experience for your viewers.

Communicate Both Directions

Live streaming has been a one way means of communication for too long.  Industry leaders are changing the live streaming experience from one way to interactive.  Collect feedback and comments, create individual experiences, and even manage transactions – directly from the stream.

Clearly, delivering a successful video livestream requires both experienced people and a proven set of tools.  At Native Frame™, we have structured our solution to provide our clients with the expertise and technology needed ensure that the time, money, and energy they invest producing an excellent live story is successfully delivered to the screens of their viewers.  The Native Frame™ API driven platform has been built through our real-world experience facing these and many other live streaming challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the key challenges involved in delivering a successful live video stream?

Live video streaming presents numerous challenges, including bandwidth constraints, hardware failures, software incompatibilities, server issues, and platform failures. These interdependent systems, coupled with the pressure of live broadcasting, make streaming a high-stakes endeavor where experience and robust infrastructure are crucial.

How does audience size and geographic diversity impact the complexity of live video streaming?

As audience size and geographic diversity increase, delivering a live stream without latency and buffering issues becomes more complex. Proper engineering and infrastructure, tested for scalability, are essential to ensure seamless delivery to large audiences across wide geographic areas.

What features should a delivery platform offer to enable monetization and customization of live streams?

A comprehensive delivery platform should enable customization of live streams with branding and facilitate monetization through paywalls, sponsorship, and ad placements. Advanced features such as premium content offerings, video blurring, ad-free experiences, and seamless integration with payment systems enhance monetization options for streamers.

How can streaming platforms accelerate the learning curve and ensure a high-quality viewing experience for audiences?

Streaming platforms should provide powerful dashboards and comprehensive analytics to track and monitor individual livestreams in real-time. These tools enable streamers to analyze traffic spikes, investigate issues, debug problems, and optimize the viewing experience for audiences across various devices.

In what ways is live streaming evolving from one-way communication to interactive experiences?

Industry leaders are transforming live streaming from one-way communication to interactive experiences by integrating features for collecting feedback, comments, creating individualized experiences, and managing transactions directly from the stream. This shift towards interactivity enhances viewer engagement and enriches the live streaming experience for audiences.

WRITTEN BY
Michael Mitrakos
Senior Software Engineer
Software engineer with a knack for coding in far-flung places. World traveler, taco enthusiast, and ice hockey lover. Currently navigating life one byte at a time, and always in search of the best bookstores.