6 Best Live Streaming Software Apps for Professional Streaming | Brid.TV
Global Marketing Strategy Examples
5 Impressive Global Marketing Strategy Examples
November 4, 2020
optimal video length for marketing videos
How to Determine the Optimal Video Length for Your Marketing Videos
November 5, 2020

How to Pick the Best Live Streaming Software App for Professional Streaming

best live streaming software

The live streaming industry has seen unprecedented growth over the last few years, peaking in 2020. Some experts even predict that the industry will be valued at more than $180 million by 2027! This incredible rate of development is unsurprising since live broadcasting is more accessible than ever. The costs of live streaming are at an all-time low since free live streaming platforms are aplenty, and the gear is more affordable than ever. But besides the essentials (camera, microphone, etc.), live streamers will also face the challenge of choosing the best live streaming software for their broadcasts.

Having to pick between some of the best video streaming software out there can be daunting, particularly for beginners. If you’re a new face in the live broadcasting industry, you might not even be aware that you need one! That is why we decided to help you pick the best streaming app for your needs by going through some of the basic functionalities of video streaming software and what you should look for in one. Finally, we’ve also provided six recommendations on some of the best live streaming software apps on the market currently.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

What Is Live Streaming Software and What’s It For?

what is live streaming software and a play button

Most of the time, when people talk about live streaming software, they’re referring to a software encoding program. The primary purpose of these programs is to take care of the encoding process. That process entails converting your video into a more suitable format for live playback.

What does that mean? It’s quite simple — RAW video files are incredibly robust and impractical for streaming. Encoding software takes care of that issue by compressing them into smaller files, which eases the distribution process and minimizes latency. In other words, having a piece of live streaming software is essential for a smooth and lag-free broadcast.

But that is not all these apps do. Live streaming apps also serve as a broadcast overlay and help with live video mixing. These allow you to do various tasks and actions while streaming and entail all of the following:

  • The option to switch between multiple cameras and audio sources.
  • The ability to insert an image or a pre-recorded video during a stream.
  • To overlay titles or other visuals over your video feed.
  • To add transitions or various special effects, like include virtuals sets using a green screen. 

As you can probably imagine, the above can be potent tools for creating an engaging and entertaining live stream. So having these options at your disposal alongside video encoding proves quite handy for creating professional-looking broadcasts.

Software Encoders vs. Hardware Encoders

Since we talked about the importance of encoding above, it’s worth mentioning that software encoders aren’t live streamers’ only choice. The alternative is settling for a hardware encoder, which is a physical device.

But how do software encoders and hardware encoders compare? 

Hardware encoders are a one-trick pony — they only take care of encoding. On the other hand, software encoders have additional useful features (broadcast overlay, live video mixing, etc.) streamers can use to make more professional-looking broadcasts.

However, despite their limitations and clunkiness, hardware encoders have their upsides too. These devices are more potent at encoding than software encoders and are excellent choices for mobile streaming. That is because they can connect to cell networks! 

Hardware encoders are much pricier, though, so if you’re on a tight budget and value practicality over sheer potency, you’d be better off settling for a live streaming software app. We’d recommend you purchase a hardware encoder only if you decide to go pro and wish to upgrade your live streaming setup.

How to Pick the Best Live Streaming Software for Your Needs

Now that we’ve cleared up the benefits live broadcasting software has over hardware, let’s see how you can pick the best one! When looking for live video streaming software, there are three primary things to keep an eye out for:

  • Possible compatibility issues — Nowadays, most streaming software uses RTMP (Real-Time Multimedia Protocol) for stream ingest. However, the most popular live streaming protocol is undoubtedly HLS. Because of that, you will have to check for any potential server ingest compatibility issues if you’re using an alternative CDN to deliver your stream. 
  • Additional streaming features — We’ve already mentioned that video streaming software offers plenty of flexibility and options, but not all were made equal. Just like with any other product, not every streaming software will support the same features. So before settling for one, you should look into what each specific one has to offer!
  • Costs — It should come as no surprise that the price should play a vital role in your choice. There are both premium and free versions of video streaming software apps out there, so even beginner and casual streamers will be able to find something affordable. But if you’re looking to launch a professional live stream, you will likely have to settle for one of the premium products.

With the above factors in mind, it’s time to weigh your options and pick the best live streaming software for your needs.

6 Best Live Streaming Software Applications on the Market in 2020

Here are the six best live streaming software apps on the market in no particular order:

  1. Wirecast
  2. OBS Studio
  3. Streamlabs OBS
  4. XSplit
  5. VidBlasterX
  6. vMix

Let’s look at each of these in more detail!

1. Wirecast

wirecast logo

Wirecast is one of the most popular live streaming software apps on the market and was developed by Telestream. This app tailors to professional live streamers and offers a wide range of useful live broadcasting tools. That makes Wirecast one of the most flexible choices on the market.

Notable Features:

  • Accepts inputs from multiple video capture sources (cameras, mics, capture cards, webcams, etc.)
  • Includes a graphics and titling tool
  • NDI Support (Pro Version)
  • GPU-accelerated encoding
  • Audio Mixer with up to eight audio tracks (Pro Version)
  • Instant replay
  • Live scoreboards (Pro Version)
  • Built-in social media comments curation feature and a video conference tool
  • Supports MDI hardware controllers
Compatibility
Mac
Windows

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • Has an extensive library of features
  • Compatible with both Mac & Windows

Cons:

  • Costly
  • Resource-intensive

Pricing:

Wirecast Studio plan starts at $599/mo, while the Wirecast Pro stands at a whopping $799/mo. For a full list of features for each of these plans, consult Wirecast’s pricing page below.

2. OBS Studio

obs studio logo

OBS Studio is an excellent open-source, free live stream software package. This broadcasting software is one of the most used in the industry due to its beginner-friendliness and accessibility. Unfortunately, OBS Studio is a bit lacking in the features department, but it does support a wide variety of useful plugins.

Notable Features:

  • Accepts inputs from multiple video capture sources (cameras, mics, capture cards, webcams, etc.)
  • Audio, video, and image support
  • Chroma key technology
  • Studio mode and multiview features
  • Audio mixer
  • Transitions and filters
  • Overlays
  • Support for video recording and RTMP live streaming
Compatibility
Linux
Windows
Mac

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Excellent compatibility with most major operating systems
  • Highly customizable due to an abundance of community-made plugins
  • Free

Cons:

  • Has some limitations on the available features
  • No dedicated support (only community support available)
  • No multistreaming

Pricing:

OBS Studio is an open-source and entirely free video streaming software. You can download it from the link below.

3. Streamlabs OBS

streamlabs obs logo

Streamlabs OBS used to be just a streaming tool predominantly used by gamers, but it eventually combined with OBS into what it is today. In its current state, Streamlabs OBS is a powerful live broadcasting tool that has expanded its reach beyond the gaming world. This software is open-source, just like OBS Studio.

Notable Features:

  • Social widgets (donation & sub tracking, real-time alerts, etc.)
  • Overlays
  • Audio filters
  • Chroma key technology
  • Transitions and filters
Compatibility
Windows
Mac

Pros:

  • User-friendy UI
  • Real-time troubleshooter & discord support
  • Low CPU usage
  • Free

Cons:

  • Not as feature-rich as some of the other professional streaming software
  • Gamer-oriented

Pricing:

Streamlabs OBS is entirely free. You can download this software from the link below.

4. XSplit

XSplit logo

XSplit is another widely used live streaming software. It comes in two versions — one that focuses on live streaming in general (XSplit Broadcaster) and the other on video game streaming (XSplit Gamecaster). We will illustrate the power of the former here as it targets a broader audience. XSplit offers a wide variety of useful features for beginners and professionals alike.

Notable Features:

  • A wide variety of supported inputs (capture cards, music, videos, webcams, etc.)
  • Professional production features
  • Enhanced audio capabilities
  • Chroma key technology
  • Local stream recording
  • Integrated chat function
Compatibility
Windows

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Highly customizable due to a variety of available plugins
  • Third-party integration

Cons:

  • Challenging to set up
  • Premium features are similar to OBS’s, which is free
  • Available on Windows only

Pricing: 

XSplit’s pricing scheme is license-based and varies drastically depending on your broadcasting needs and required features. The cheapest Premium plan stands at $24.95 for a 3-month license, while a lifetime license for a Premium subscription would set you back $199. For a full overview of XSplit’s pricing plans, check out their pricing page through the link below.

5. VidBlasterX

vidblasterx logo

VidBlasterX is another all-around excellent live video streaming software with excellent encoding and live video mixing features. This software is compatible with RTMP and is also supported by a variety of online streaming platforms.

Notable Features:

  • Modular UI
  • Video routing
  • Overlay customizability
  • Audio mixer
  • Customizable via macros, custom shortcuts, and internal API
  • Multiview feature
  • NDI and IP support
Compatibility
Windows

Pros:

  • Wide variety of features
  • Highly customizable, especially if you’re well-versed in coding
  • Wide range of pricing plans

Cons:

  • Not the best choice for inexperienced streamers
  • Not compatible with Mac and Linux

Pricing:

VidBlasterX has three different editions (Home, Studio, and Broadcast) and charges on a subscription-based model. The primary difference between the three is the number of simultaneous modules they support, so the pricing varies accordingly.

Home Edition supports seven modules and costs $9/yr, Studio Edition supports 25 modules and will set you back by $99/yr, while the Broadcast Edition supports up to 100 modules for $999/yr. For more info on VidBlasterX’s pricing plans, visit their site through the link below.

6. vMix

vmix logo

vMix is another fantastic video production and streaming software, particularly in terms of encoding. This powerful encoding software boasts a multitude of features and supports a wide range of inputs. vMix focuses on offering broadcasters worldwide the most professional live streaming experience possible.

Notable Features:

  • Supports a wide range of input devices (webcams, capture cards, soundcards, cameras, etc.)
  • Chroma key technology
  • Various live streaming platform integrations
  • NDI support
  • Instant replay, slow motion, and scoreboard features
  • Animation support via XAML
Compatibility
Windows

Pros:

  • A wide variety of high-end features
  • Offers the best professional production feel on the market
  • 60-day free trial
  • A wide variety of payment plans

Cons:

  • Low bitrate streams
  • Not beginner-friendly
  • Available only on Windows

Pricing:

vMix offers its users a choice between five pricing plans, all of which come with different features and benefits. The Free Plan is highly limiting, so it’s best suited for trying the software out. 

When it comes to premium plans, the price ranges are high. vMix’s Basic HD Plan comes at an affordable $60, while its HD Plan will set you back by $350. The more premium 4K Plan is priced at $700, while the ultimate Pro Plan comfortably sits at $1200. All of these packages come with free software updates for one year after purchase.

For a full overview of vMix’s pricing plans and features that come with each, visit their site’s pricing page through the link below.

Are Your Ready to Start Your Live Broadcasting Journey?

Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to choose the best live streaming software, all you have left to do is find the right live streaming solution to start broadcasting.

If you’re looking for a reliable video platform to broadcast your live events or start your live streaming career, we at Brid.TV can help you! Our state-of-the-art video platform has everything businesses need to go live. With Brid.TV’s live streaming solution, you will find plenty of advanced streaming features like:

  • Low-latency streaming
  • DVR
  • Adaptive bitrate streaming
  • Low-latency 
  • Mobile live streaming
  • Live stream monetization

Setting up your live stream with Brid.TV is a seamless process through our user-friendly video CMS. All you’ll have to do is set up your broadcast and embed your live stream on your website by pasting the embed link provided.

Don’t believe us? See it for yourself! Sign up for a free premium trial and give our platform and all of its features a shot by sending us an email.

FAQ

What is the best live streaming software?

Wirecast is one of the best live streaming software apps on the market since it offers a variety of useful broadcasting tools to ensure professional-looking live streams.

OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS are two of the best live streaming software apps for encoding YouTube live streams. OBS Studio is better suited for professional and large-scale live streams, while Streamlabs OBS is a free user-friendly streaming app any live streaming enthusiast can use.

OBS Studio is the best live streaming software app for Facebook Live. This app is able to deliver smooth, high-quality live streams to your audiences and handles all your encoding needs without using too much of your computer’s processing power.

Wirecast and OBS Studio are two of the best live streaming software apps for Mac users. Wirecast is more suitable for professional, large-scale live streams, while OBS Studio is the perfect choice for smaller broadcasters.

OBS Studio is the best free live streaming software as it offers the most professional-looking broadcasts and the widest variety of streaming features at no cost.

Streamlabs OBS is the best live streaming software for gaming, as the app was designed specifically with gamers in mind. It is free to use and includes many useful features for gaming streamers like social widgets, various overlays, and transitions and filters.

Support