Live streaming has become a central tool for businesses to reach a wide audience, grow their networks, and ultimately increase exposure.
Buffering, poor audio, and pixelated content are just a few examples of issues associated with live streaming. We’re going to look at a number of ways you can circumvent these problems and deliver your audience with the best viewing experience possible.
The Importance of Live Streaming Quality
Many variables can affect the quality of your stream, from the equipment you use to the strength of your internet connection. Having a poor quality live stream is one way to lose viewers. Given the abundance of both live streaming and video-on-demand content available nowadays there will be many better options for your audience should they look elsewhere for higher quality streams.
What’s more, if you depend on live streaming as a monetization channel, then research has shown that poor streaming quality will directly impact your revenue.
Factors That Affects The Stream Quality
Perhaps the most significant influence on video quality is the speed of your network. If you have a fast network, you will be able to live stream with low latency and without experiencing a drop in image quality.
While access to good internet is improving, it still varies greatly from region to region, and where you’re broadcasting from will affect the quality of your live stream. Also, whether your viewer is in close proximity to a media server of your chosen streaming platform will impact their streaming capabilities.
Encoding and transcoding are other key aspects of live streaming, and the encoder settings that you select will directly impact the quality of your stream. When choosing encoder settings, it’s essential to factor in your upload speeds and your audience’s download speeds. Choosing unsuitable settings for the given equipment and internet speed will result in buffering or low-quality streams for your viewers. We will discuss the optimization of encoder settings in a little more detail later.
Streaming quality depends heavily on the input device/s with which you’re recording and broadcasting. Naturally, the worse your recording device, the lower quality your stream will be.
Tips on How To Improve Streaming Quality
Check Your Internet Speed
Before starting your live stream, you should do an internet speed test. This can be readily done online, and the internet speed you’re aiming for should be dependent on the quality you’re trying to broadcast in.
The higher the desired quality, the higher the internet speed required.
Use a Reliable Internet Provider
Speeds will differ depending on your internet provider. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to research which provider would be best for your region and your requirements.
Invest in High-Quality Equipment
Cutting corners on your equipment may save you money in the short term, but it’s also likely to negatively impact how your business is viewed.
Investing in high-quality camera and audio equipment may set you back initially, but the benefits will be obvious when you can deliver beautiful, sharp images and crisp, professional sound to your audience.
Investing in high-end equipment is only worthwhile if you’re using it to the best of its abilities. Your lighting and acoustics are hugely important, and paying attention to these could take a lower-quality camera, webcam, or microphone to the next level.
Do a Trial Run
Given the number of variables at play, testing your stream is vital and allows you to identify any major issues before broadcasting live.
It’s advisable to test your broadcast on both slow and fast connections to see how your stream fares on each, while it’s also wise to test how your equipment copes under intense workloads.
For example, you want your camera, audio equipment, and encoder to all be able to perform well under stress to ensure a reliable live stream.
Optimizing Your Encoder Settings
There are specific ways of optimizing your chosen encoder settings in order to deliver the best possible stream.
If possible, you should try to ascertain where the majority of your audience is viewing from and the strength of their connections. That way, you’re able to optimize settings for aspects such as video resolution, frame rate, codec, and video bitrate.
Optimal Bitrate for Streaming
If your bitrate is set too low, the file will be compressed too much, and viewers will be unable to view it in high resolution. Conversely, if you attempt to stream at too high a bitrate, it is likely that your viewers will not have the capability to process all of the data, degrading the quality of the stream.
Full HD 1080p video at 60fps usually requires a bitrate of between 3.5 and 6 Mbps, whereas 720p requires less, usually between 2.5 and 4 Mbps. Having said that, individual platforms have different guidelines for streaming with regards to bitrates and fps.
Typically, recommended audio bitrate is around 128 Kbps, much lower than that of video.
Factors that Affects Bitrate Speed
The main factors affecting bitrate are the streamer’s internet upload speed and the capacity of the chosen encoder. The better your upload speed, the higher the bitrate you’re able to operate at without causing issues such as frame drop.
Sourcing out the best internet provider available for your area is an accessible way of optimizing your bitrate speeds.
Meanwhile, lower-quality encoding software is unable to process videos of a higher bitrate as efficiently as specialized hardware encoders can. If your budget allows, investing in high-end encoding hardware is another way to optimize your bitrate speed.
Different streaming platforms require different encoder settings. CDNetworks Media Acceleration Live Broadcast is our very own, independently developed service offering a stable, fast, and secure end-to-end live streaming experience. Employing multiple patented technologies such as GLBS and private streaming media transfer protocol, striving to provide one-stop solutions of video ingestion, processing, delivering, and decoding. It renders a fast, stable, and secure live streaming acceleration service, and provides users an excellent experience of low-latency, buffer-free viewing.