Today, live video streaming is becoming increasingly mainstream. Apps like Periscope and Facebook Live have made it easier for anyone with a smartphone to start streaming. More importantly, the popularity of these apps has normalized the idea of live streaming video. Millions of people are now familiar with this type of content. Major corporations like Facebook and Google (Alphabet) are going all-in with live streaming video. Prominent tech figures like Mark Zuckerberg describe themselves as “obsessed” with live video.
This growing ubiquity represents an opportunity for other businesses. Live video can be a powerful tool. Whether for marketing, sales, training, entertainment, or media, live video is a compelling technology.
In this article, we’ll look at two of the biggest social media video platforms out there: YouTube Live vs Facebook Live. First, we’ll explore these platforms, their features, and the pros and cons of each. Then, we’ll compare YouTube Live vs Facebook Live to online video platforms aimed at more professional users.
YouTube Live vs Facebook Live: FB Live Review
About Facebook Live streaming
It has been 2 years now that live video is now possible with Facebook. In a short time, many users have already widely adopted this feature. Many people use Facebook regularly, so sharing and watching video content is a natural extension of the service. Some streams reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of visitors.
How Facebook Live works
Using the Facebook Live streaming service is simple.
On mobile devices, starting a live stream involves using the Facebook app. All you have to do is open your app, then tap on the status input area labeled “what’s on your mind?”
The screen that opens displays an iconon the bottom right.
Tap that button and you have option to start a live stream. You can then give a description to your live video and choose a target audience if you wish. From there, a single tap lets you go live.
On desktop, live streaming via Facebook Live is a bit more complex. First of all, you can only live stream from a Facebook Page using a desktop or laptop computer. Streaming from your personal profile is not (yet) possible. You’ll need live stream encoding software, such as OBS, to make this work.
Set up your encoder software using the following settings:
Video bit rate: no higher 2500 Kbps
Resolution: no higher than 1280 x 720
Frames per second: 30
Select the appropriate video and audio sources
After you set up your encoding software, visit your page and click on the tab labeled “Publishing Tools.” On this page, click the option labeled “Video” and then click “Live.” From here, you can enter the “stream key” and/or “stream URL” that generate into your encoder. Enter a description on the next page. Finally, click “Go Live” to begin streaming.
Facebook Live pros and cons
The main upside of streaming live on Facebook is the built-in audience. If you’ve invested time in building a social media following, it’s a no-brainer. Additionally, the service is sufficiently powerful. With the Facebook Live API, you can stream from high-quality compatible cameras for live streaming. Finally, the video APIallows you to integrate with existing workflows.
However, when comparing YouTube Live vs Facebook Live it’s important to consider any drawbacks. In our own research and trials, we discovered some major downsides to Facebook Live.
One of the main drawbacks is that users cannot index Facebook Live video content. That means that search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo don’t ever “find” Facebook posts. This limitation includes live and archived videos.
You can search for the content within Facebook itself, but searching inside the platform isn’t very useful. It’s a confusing interface compared to YouTube, Google, and other search engines. Finding posts, especially if they are older, is nearly impossible.
This is a major drawback when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization). Facebook content simply won’t rank on a search engine. Unless you can generate a large audience on Facebook spontaneously, your content is unlikely to find traction among viewers after-the-fact.
Another drawback of Facebook Live is that the maximum supported resolution is only 720p HD. This is not full high-definition. Additionally, the maximum supported bit rate is only 2500 Kbps, which isn’t very high. Other limitations include a maximum video length of 90 minutes. This threshold is overly restrictive for many users.
Additionally, Facebook Live doesn’t support the following useful live video features:
YouTube Live vs Facebook Live: YouTube Live Review
About YouTube Live streaming
Let’s continue with our comparison of YouTube Live vs Facebook Live. The YouTube Live service comes from another tech behemoth: Google. YouTube Live is a basic live streaming service, but it offers more functionality than Facebook Live.
How YouTube Live streaming works
To live stream on YouTube, you need a few things. First, you need a YouTube/Google account. Second, you need to “verify” your account. Note that if you want to embed your stream on an external site, you need to link an approved AdSense account to your YouTube account.
Once you have met these qualifications, there are two ways to get started. “Stream now” is a fast and easy way to begin streaming. This method allows you to use your webcam or other connected camera.
Alternatively, “Events” allow you to pre-schedule a live event, invite people in advance, set up backup streams, and so on. “Events” also enable you to use higher-quality cameras connected to encoders.
YouTube Live pros and cons
When comparing YouTube Live vs Facebook Live, YouTube wins out in terms of searchability and SEO. In the first place, YouTube videos show up in search results. That just isn’t the case with video on Facebook. Since YouTube is a Google-owned business, videos tend to rank relatively high. Even Bing, Yahoo, and other engines rank videos highly in search results.
Finding videos on YouTube is also easier than on Facebook. The search functionality is much more powerful. In general, YouTube strives to make videos available forever. Facebook content is technically available forever, but it’s strongly biased toward finding of-the-moment material. Hence, the timeline design.
The service also has a YouTube Live API that allows for programmatic access to their live streaming service. This makes it easy to stream live on YouTube while streaming on other services. Users can also integrate apps with YouTube live streams.
There are a few major drawbacks when it comes to YouTube Live, however. First, you give up control of your own content. Anytime you broadcast or upload content via YouTube, it gains access to use your material in its own advertising. This is a big drawback for many users. For example, with a free B2B platform like YouTube Live, you can’t stream live video on your website, while maintaining control of your video content and your brand, like you can with professional-grade B2C platforms (e.g., DaCast, IBM Cloud Video, etc.).
Additionally, YouTube is one of the most-blocked websites in the world, especially in businesses and schools. This is also true of Facebook. Your content isn’t worth anything if your target audience is unable to access it. If you’re seeking streaming solutions for your business or school, you’ll likely need to look elsewhere.
Types of Live Streaming Platforms
YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and other social platforms are undoubtedly popular. However, they’re far from the only providers in the live streaming market. As our reviews of YouTube Live vs Facebook Live show, it’s worth spending some time to choose the right streaming platform for you. Other live streaming service providers will often give more features and functionality. For many reasons, professional users often prefer other video streaming solutions.
Why use a professional live streaming video host?
For people who are looking for a more professional appearance, social streaming platforms aren’t the best fit.
For example, a company that live streams an event may want to monetize its stream. A university may want to stream multiple lectures simultaneously. Businesses, universities, social organizations, and media channels often fall into these situations. Likewise, video streaming services for faith and religion-based groups will need to look beyond social streaming platforms. As mentioned above, a professional live streaming video host is also ideal if you want to stream live video on your website. And this is where features offered specifically by video platforms come into play.
These features include the ability to:
Access dedicated tech support
Maintain all rights to broadcast content
Stream multiple events concurrently
Use custom video players
Restrict access to certain geographic locations or IP ranges
Broadcast with no competing branding
Monetize broadcasts in various fashions
These features, among others, define a comprehensive live streaming platform. To guarantee these features, most dedicated streaming providers charge for their services. Typically there’s a wide range in pricing plans. Some services are aimed at large businesses, while others are more affordable for smaller businesses or individuals. Though Facebook and YouTube are free, they simply can’t compete when it comes to functionality.