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A Guide to Live Streaming and Web Conferencing Services for Events and Remote Meetings

A Guide to Live Streaming and Web Conferencing Services for Events and Remote Meetings

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As many people have been researching and testing the plethora live streaming services to find the best option for their virtual event, so has Alford Media. We’ve created a guide that lists the most well-known live streaming and web conferencing services with a focus on the details most important for streaming virtual, live, and hybrid events. We hope that sharing what we’ve learned and found through our research so far can serve as a resource when determining the right service for your event.

What are the differences between Live Streaming and Web Conferencing Services?

Live streaming is a type of streaming in which audio or video is broadcast live over the internet. The media is transmitted while it is recorded, allowing viewers to watch or listen to it in real-time. Multiple users can “tune in” to a single stream, providing an efficient way of delivering the audio or video to several locations at once. Certain live stream services also allow for simulcasting, a single live stream being broadcast to multiple platforms or webpages at once.

Web Conferencing is an online service by which you can hold live meetings, conferencing, presentations and trainings via the internet. Web conferencing usually allows real-time point-to-point communication as well as multitask communications from one sender to many receivers in separate locations. Certain web conferencing services provide end-to-end encryption of video streams, providing an additional level of security for the streams and data protection.

The main differentiators between these two types of services is the levels of attendee interaction, attendee control, and event production control via the software. Web conferencing software usually offers more attendee engagement options and allows those producing the event more management control.

When trying to determine which service or platform is right for your event important factors include, how public or private is your event, how large is your audience, are engagement features essential, is attendee data crucial to you, and do you have remote presenters. The information below will help you determine which platforms best meet your needs based on these factors. In some instances, you may need a web conferencing service in conjunction with a live streaming service to fully meet your event’s needs.  

Below are lists of live streaming services and web conferencing services with descriptions, features, benefits, and any elements that may limit your virtual event or remote meeting. There are many services to choose from and while this guide does not include every available service at this time, these detailed lists of the most well-known services can help you navigate the options when choosing the right live streaming or web conferencing service for your event.

Live Streaming Services

Alford Media Live Streaming Services Review
Ranked from 1-5 stars with 5 being the best. Rankings are based on the level of or available options for features provided by each service.

Free and Public Services

Facebook Logo

Facebook Live

This is a free platform and you only need a Facebook account or page to use it. You can broadcast live via device camera (phone, computer, or tablet) or with a stream key to send higher quality video through. You can preschedule events. Facebook Live is great for live streaming public events and those in which you want to reach a lot of people.

Security Features: *

Facebook does not explicitly list their security measures, but your account’s password protection and the stream key can add an additional level of security. However, if you’re hosting a private event you may want to look at some of the paid service options for additional security.

Engagement Features: **

You can engage attendees through live Q&A via the comment feature or with Live Polls. Your attendees can also engage with your live stream through the interactions feature built-in with Facebook posts (Likes, Loves, Etc.)

User Data and Viewing Reports: ***

Facebook Live offers great metrics to see your views, engagement, and viewer retention of your live stream event. Though there are limitations in terms of exporting this data to share with others. It tends to be a more manual process, rather than exporting a simple data sheet or report.

YouTube Logo

YouTube Live

This is a free platform that you need a YouTube/Google account to use. You must also activate the Live tool at least 24 hours prior to your event (there is a 24 hour hold once you activate before you can go live). You can preschedule events with the “Events” tool that allows you to setup backup streams and enable high-quality cameras. This platform is also great for live streaming public events and because it’s connected to Google’s SEO tool and if you’re familiar with these tools it can help you achieve a greater reach than Facebook Live.

Security Features: *

YouTube Live does not explicitly share their security measures, but includes your account’s password protection, stream key, and if your account is linked to a verified Google services account you can embed on an external site with added password protection. However, if you’re hosting a private event you may want to look at some of the paid service options for additional security.

Engagement Features: **

YouTube Live offers a little less than Facebook Live in terms on engagement features. It does allow users to chat and post comments in real-time and upvote or downvote your video.

User Data and Viewing Reports: **

YouTube Live will show you the health of your stream, average live view duration, total time view, concurrent viewers, playbacks, and chat rate. There is not an export feature on the data, so you need to pull the information manually to create a report. If you’re well-versed in Google Analytics you can run reports on your YouTube page to gather and export data, but if you’re not familiar with the platform it can be a complicated process.

Paid – Public or Private Services

Vimeo Logo

Vimeo

This is a paid live streaming platform that starts at $900 a year. Vimeo supports up to 1080p live streams and allows for live graphic creation and studio encoding. Vimeo is great for both private and public events. What sets Vimeo apart from other platforms is their options for video and content creation within the platform that you can easily integrate into a live event, as well as the ability to simulcast your live stream to social media channels and other platforms.

Security Features: **

Vimeo’s security and privacy are slightly stronger than Facebook and YouTube. Vimeo offers password protection on your account and videos, domain-level privacy, private link sharing, and private team passwords. All these security features are password protected.

Engagement Features: ***

Vimeo’s live events offers engagement features like chat, polls, and Q&A. You can also to simultaneously stream your live event via social media, send your stream via RTMP, and embed on other websites.

User Data and Viewing Reports: ***

This platform does offer strong analytic data and the ability to generate reports. You can track your live streams views, devices, performance on social media and embeds, and access Google Analytics data.

Professional Paid Services

The services listed below offer custom solutions with varied price ranges dependent on your event and streaming needs. Each service is going to provide a premier level of live stream and video delivery, but with most you will likely want to use in conjunction with another service if you desire to fully meet high level security, engagement, and analytics features. Most of these services work with corporate clients and provide high levels of support and integration options.

What is a CDN? (Content Delivery Network)

A network of servers caching your content in strategic locations to reach anywhere it needs to go efficiently. This reduces bandwidth cost, improves load times, and is resilient to DDoS attacks and hardware failure. 

What is HLS through HTML5?

HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) on HTML5 is the gold standard right now. This is an Apple created protocol that succeeded the QuickTime Streaming Server. The benefit is that the viewer needs nothing more than a current browser, no plugins or apps required. The only relative downside is that there is generally more delay, 15-30 seconds from camera to viewer. It stands out because it is able to adjust the content quality to fit the bandwidth/hardware limitations of a computer or mobile device. 

Chorus Call Logo

Chorus Call

This is white glove video conferencing service with both live and on-demand streaming and includes collaboration tools, room rental, media presentation and custom webcasting services. For the webcasts that Chorus Call hosts, they offer a custom user interface that can deliver several different modes.

Chorus Call’s custom service options and premier customer service have proven the company to be an excellent partner within the events industry. This company works very well with event technology and production companies remotely. Additionally, Chorus Call has offices around the world, including the US, South America, Europe, India, South Africa, Japan and Australia.

Security Features: ****

Chorus Call offers several options for virtual event security through Compunetix and the Evergreen Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) system. These options include security of data transmitted out and security of attendees’ availability to view. In order to join a conference on the Evergreen, a connection must be established with a

video endpoint either by dialing out to the participant or having the participant dial into the MCU. This service also offers several password-protected options to further secure streams and access.

Engagement Features: ****

This service offers attendee chat, Q&A, and polling features as well as collaboration tools. Chorus Call also offers closed captioning and multiple language support.

User Data and Viewing Reports: **

Chorus Call appears to have some limitations in the user data and reports available at this time. However, they do offer a post conference summary report, which shares attendance registration, cost allocation, and instant detection of fraudulent use emailed instantly to the conference host.

OnStream Logo

OnStream 

This is primarily a webinar hosting service that includes some robust features and offers webcasting services for both live and virtual events. Onstream offers HLS on HTML5 for superior streaming. The service that sets Onstream apart is their “Encode” black box that you can put in line with your video production and it sends your content to their network. This service also has a streaming publisher platform where you can upload, organize, and convert source video to their DMSP (Digital Media Services Platform TM) where you can then distribute. Offers a 30-day free trial for their webinar services.

Security Features: **

OnStream’s main security focus is protecting client content and accessibility. This service uses token-based access and dynamic links, both of which expire after a designated time.

Engagement Features: *****

OnStream provides several options for attendee engagement primarily through their Encoding system. The system is fully interactive and customizable, featuring Q&A, chat, real-time surveys, downloadable docs, animation and polls. Social networking capabilities allow users to share their content via Facebook®, Twitter® and LinkedIn®.

User Data and Viewing Reports: ***

Onstream webinars provide analytics to measure participant activity during the event, such as how long attendees stayed, whether they asked a question or participated in a poll.

LiveStream Logo

Livestream

This live streaming service is owned by Vimeo and offers end-to-end production services. Livestream by Vimeo is the enterprise option that includes dedicated support, advanced security and control for virtual events, corporate communications, and training. Livestream has their own webcast production software called Studio 6. This software touts a laundry list of video input compatibility for ease of use on their platform. This software allows for simulcasting with HTML5 delivery to Vimeo and Livestream, and with a paid subscription to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, Wowza, and Zixi. Both Livestream and Vimeo are great when your content and studio production is of the highest importance, this is a great platform for marketing.

Security Features: ***

Livestream offers a single-sign-on option and private livestreams. Additionally, there are options to password protect your streams, embed them within your company intranet, or make them only available within your network.

Engagement Features:  ***

This service offers the same engagement features as Vimeo’s options, including chat, Q&A, and polling with options for social sharing and streaming.

User Data and Viewing Reports: ***

Similar to Vimeo’s subscription you have access to robust viewer data and engagement and can easily generate reports.

Watson Media Logo

Watson Media (Formerly UStream) 

This service is a CDN owned by IBM, also referred to as “IBM Video Streaming” which offers live streaming and on-demand content delivery. The feature that sets Watson Media apart is its AI speech to text technology. This allows for speech to text to automatically generate transcripts, captions, and allows users to search for videos using spoken word with the platform. Additionally, this service allows for custom integrations with other websites and services. Pricing ranges from a free trial for 5 concurrent viewers to prepackaged plans up to platinum at $999.00 per month, which gives you 5000 viewer hours, 20 channels, and 5TB of storage, and branding customization.

Security Features: ****

Watson Media offers SSO integration, password protection, and full encryption of transmitted content. 

Engagement Features: *

Watson Media focuses most on its On-Demand video platform and live stream delivery, however, the paid version of the service offers live polling.

User Data and Viewing Reports: *****

Offers a rich analytics suite that allows users to review data and quality of service information for who is watching and how to optimize content for viewers. Watson Media also provides video analytics for real-time and indexed alerts for predefined behaviors and allows for review of 1000s of videos to search for dynamic behaviors using its custom AI.

Web Conferencing Services

Alford Media Web Conferencing Services Review Chart
Ranked from 1-5 stars with 5 being the best. Rankings are based on the level of or available options for features provided by each service.

Paid – Public or Private Services

Webex Logo

Webex Meetings

Webex is a web conferencing option for small to large event live streaming and offers some unique features, including automated email management and revenue generation. The cost ranges between $160 to $325 a year depending on the number of hosts and participants for smaller meetings (100-200 participants), with custom pricing and options for live events up to 3,000 attendees and webcasts up to 100,000 attendees.

Security Features: *****

Cisco Webex employs a robust, multilayer security model, which includes the use of 128- bit Transport Layer Security (TLS) and 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for data encryption (end-to-end encryption), along with granular policy controls. Security processes are stringently audited with compliance details provided in a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) report. In addition, Webex allows you to add to attendance security for internal meetings with Single Sign-On (SSO) options that range from easily tagging participants to providing invitation-only access.

Engagement Features: ***

Cisco Webex allows event managers to track and answer incoming questions from the audience using the threaded Q&A feature. Chat privately or publicly with panelists or attendees during the event. Monitor interest with real-time polls and the attention indicator tool.

User Data and Viewing Reports: ***

Cisco Webex offers some expansive data and options for event follow up and review. See registration and attendance information, lead scores, duration of attendance, and more using standard or customized reports. Use lead-source tracking to identify your most effective sources for attendance. Additionally, you can speed sales follow-up by uploading event data, such as survey answers and registration information, to CRM and marketing automation systems, including Salesforce.com, Oracle On-Demand CRM, and Eloqua.

Zoom Logo

Zoom

Zoom’s paid platform offers more security features and allows for more attendees and meeting time. The pricing starts at $14.99 a month per host to $19.99 a month per host, allowing up 300 participants in the Business subscription and up to 1,000 for their Enterprise subscription. Their pricing structure multiplies as you add more hosts. Each subscription level offers different features. This is a great web conferencing platform for internal meetings or smaller events and when used in conjunction with another live streaming service or platform is great for external meetings and larger events. Zoom also offers features that allow for easier attendee and remote presenter management.

Security Features: *****

Zoom offers several security features, including waiting rooms to approve attendees, passwords for individual meeting level, user, group, or account level for all meetings and webinars, end-to-end encryption within the platform (data is protected as it’s transmitted and upon arrival), and join by domain – only allows authenticated users to join meetings based on their email address and approved lists. *While Zoom’s paid subscriptions offer more of these security features, the free subscription does not. To enhance security of your live stream event it is recommended to use a paid account. For content protection, Zoom utilizes the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 using a one-time key for that specific session when using a Zoom client.

Engagement Features: ***

For attendee engagement Zoom offers a chat feature, anonymous Q&A, polling, and a whiteboard option for collaborative sessions.

User Data and Viewing Reports: *

Zoom does not have as many analytics options as some other platforms, but does offer registration and polling data information. This is in part because Zoom removed attendee attention tracking as a commitment to security and privacy of users.

Microsoft Teams Logo

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a web conferencing platform with a variation of options. Licensing plans range from free to E3 plans for $20.00 per month per user. There’s a lot of extra value if you need more than video conferencing, including the Office Suite. Free Teams limits to 300 members per organization and a 250-attendee limit in meetings. The free and paid versions offer guest access, group online audio and video calls, channel meetings, screen sharing, and background and screen blur.

To access the live event feature users must have a Microsoft or Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 license or an Office 365 Education A3 or A5 license. Due to the nature of the pricing through licenses, this platform is best for internal meetings or to use in conjunction with another streaming service for external meetings. However, users can now use Teams with Skype Meeting Broadcast to host up to 10,000 attendees and up to 16 hours per broadcast. This option makes streaming for larger, external meetings and events possible.

Security Features: ****

Microsoft Teams offers encryption for all outgoing streams and videos within the platform and their partner platforms. For internal meetings there is an added level of security feature to only allow enterprise licensees to attend and even Single Sign-On (SSO) options. Microsoft states they only use data as it relates to providing the Teams service.

Engagement Features: **

Attendees can watch the live or recorded event in Yammer, Teams, and/or Stream, and can interact with the presenters using moderated Q&A or a Yammer conversation.

User Data and Viewing Reports: **

Microsoft Teams offers a live event usage report. Within this report managers can track views based on the event, organizer, presenters, producers, and production type. Additionally, this feature allows planners and producers to oversee an entire event and all subsequent sessions data, start times, and event status.

Adobe Connect Logo

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect is a web conferencing platform for eLearning, webinars, and meetings. Attendee capacity ranges from 3 to 100 per meeting host for meetings, 200 for Connect Learning, and up to 1,500 for webinars. Adobe offers some unique options with their service, including their customizable breakout rooms and integration with other Adobe products. Pricing ranges from $50 a month for meetings, $130 a month for webinars, $370 a month for learning to custom pricing for higher tiered enterprise accounts. This service is really pushing towards a completely virtual event rather than a live stream or hybrid event type. Adobe Connect appears to be a standalone platform, rather than one you can use in conjunction with other services, and its interface has some limitations. While a good option for smaller meetings it might limit your event if you have a larger audience or wish for a high-level production.

Security Features: ****

Adobe Connect has several security features, including that it provides end-to-end encryption with their Managed Services and outgoing encryption for Hosted Multi-Tenant. This service requires a secure connection for meetings and content. There are also options for password protections, host controls, and SSO.

Engagement Features: ***

This service offers multiple engagement options that are completely customizable per event and breakout room through their app and pod system. Some of these include chat, polls, quizzes, simulations, and games.

User Data and Viewing Reports: ****

Adobe Connect includes built-in dashboards to monitor attendee engagement and attentiveness. If you have an Adobe Analytics license you can also integrate with Adobe Connect to track your data across multiple Adobe platforms.

Professional Paid Services

Chorus Call Logo

Chorus Call 

This service provides both web conferencing and live streaming options. See Live Streaming Service list above for more information on Chorus Call.

If you have any questions or you’d like to learn more about our webcasting services, please give us a call or contact us in the form below.

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