As a professional broadcaster, you know how important it is to pick the right streaming platform to ensure low latency and the best video experiences for your audience. One tool that helps with that is a live streaming API.
Whether it’s the first time you’re hearing about live streaming APIs, or you need a refresher to see how you can improve your live events, this article is for you. We’ll cover what live streaming API is, its benefits and ways to use it, and the things you need to know about JW Player’s live stream API.
Shall we get started?
What is a Live Streaming API?
API, or Application Programming Interface, is a piece of code or a software intermediary that allows two programs or applications to talk to each other.
A live streaming API gives broadcasters control over the functions of their live streaming platforms and helps them to optimize and customize streaming experiences by integrating different programs to run alongside their video content management system (CMS).
Thanks to live streaming APIs, broadcasters can pick the best live video streaming service for their needs, whilst not compromising on any customizations they have. They can upload, configure and manage live streams without any predefined restrictions and tools, or advanced configurations from providers.
In addition, a live streaming API empowers broadcasters to:
- Start and stop live streams
- Stream at low latency
- Turn live streams into videos on demand (VOD)
- Generate advanced workflows
- Manage video assets and add metadata
- Gain actionable video insights through deep analytics capabilities
What is a SDK vs API?
When talking about APIs, you might often hear the term SDK, so it’s vital you can differentiate the two. As we’ve just mentioned, API is a tool that integrates programs with one another.
SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a collection of developer tools that includes an API. The kit also includes compilers, runtime environments, de-buggers, a set of code libraries, or documentation.
One isn’t inherently better than the other. Many video platforms will offer APIs inside SDKs.
For now, let’s just focus on live streaming APIs.
Benefits of using Live Streaming API
Broadcasters can realize several benefits of using live streaming API in their professional setup. Here’s our list of top three:
- Task automation – A live streaming API automates your mundane tasks, subsequently saving you time and freeing you up for more strategic activities. These time-consuming tasks could include encoding, scheduling live streams online, or uploading tons of video content to your video hosting platform.
- Streamlining systems – Live stream APIs help broadcasters tackle inefficiencies in their systems, making it easier for non-tech-savvy employees and IT experts alike to complete their tasks from one place. Having a more efficient system and processes in place brings a separate array of benefits, including revenue generation and employee engagement.
- Freedom to integrate and develop your apps and web platforms – With live stream APIs, you can create a system that works for you and for your live streaming needs. As the API connects different platforms and programs together, you’re free to add functionalities for the best possible streaming experiences. With APIs, you’re not constrained to the features of one provider but can merge several together, or build your own custom-made one.
How to use Live Streaming APIs
There are many use cases for live streaming APIs which we want to let you know about.
Let’s start with tech and social media giants.
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch are all leveraging the power of live streaming APIs to create engaging and interactive video experiences for their audiences. They’re using live streaming APIs to incorporate chat bots, live polls and other elements into their streams in real time and gain valuable insights into the behaviors and interests of their viewers.
Live sports coverage is another great use case.
With a live streaming API, sports broadcasters can stream their games directly to fans’ preferred devices, eliminating the need for separate apps or platforms. This level of convenience is highly sought after these days as it gives fans more control over their viewing experience.
Marketers and event organizers are also using live streaming APIs for their internal and external event coverage. Think global product launches, annual hybrid business meetings, team building days, seminars, online training, trade shows – the world is your oyster when it comes to the corporate events you can live stream and improve with various API integrations.
Those working in the education sector often use live streaming APIs to reach more students and offer personalized learning experiences.
Another great example is the Teaching Channel, a thriving online community where teachers can watch, share and learn diverse techniques to help every student grow. Before partnering with JW Player, Teaching Channel experienced a serious problem with playback which created poor viewing quality on their users’ devices (which ranged from 90s computers to modern smartphones!)
We cracked Teaching Channel’s core challenge through our HTML5 player. With an adaptive bitrate that adjusted playback to bandwidth, videos loaded quickly and appeared beautifully on any device. In addition, we provided powerful customization and syndication support, enabling Teaching Channel to easily license its content to third-party partners and analyze usage to track business operations.
Our flexible live streaming API significantly improved user experience, allowed Teaching Channel to load a couple of hundred caption files in just a few minutes, and caption up to 700 videos a month.
If you’re interested in finding out more, read our full case study here.
Adding live video streaming to your website with API
Adding video to your website isn’t a difficult task once you get familiar with these three simple steps below.
Step One. Pick a live streaming API provider
Firstly, choose a live streaming API provider for your needs. There are many providers out there, all of which offer different additional features, so conduct your research and evaluate which one will best meet your broadcasting needs.
Remember that not every video streaming service is a live streaming API provider, and not every plan includes full API access.
Picking the right live streaming API provider like JW Player brings many benefits to your video strategy, including attractive video monetization options, complete customization of live streams, comprehensive customer support, and so much more.
Step Two. Create your live streams
Once you have picked the right platform, creating a live stream shouldn’t be too difficult. More often than not, your provider will have some handy guidelines to help you get started.
The process could be as easy as pressing ‘Create a new live stream’ button and following the steps on the screen. Then, you’ll be almost ready to broadcast in real-time.
Step Three. Embed code on your website
As a final step, you need to embed the live stream on your website. For that, you’ll need to generate an embed code and paste it into your HTML editor.
Live streaming from your website is a fantastic way to increase web traffic and support your lead generation efforts.
If you want to find out how to embed a player on JW Player, follow our guide here.
5 Best Live Streaming API providers
With over 40,000 broadcasters, publishers and other video-driven brands, JWP has built the SaaS video platform of choice for companies whose business relies on video.
JW Player facilitates scale and flexibility for broadcasters using two comprehensive APIs: our Platform Management API that integrates JW Player functionality with an existing CMS, and our Delivery API.
The Delivery API is designed for high availability and allows you to perform large volumes of operations. Its main use case is to help you build your sites and apps.
This API uses a CDN and short caching to optimize response time globally. The content service packages your library into easily consumable templates including RSS and JSON feeds, single-line player embeds and adaptive bitrate streaming manifests.
You can require that requests for your content are signed with expiring tokenized links. For more information, visit our guidelines page.
Start a free 30-day trial or get in touch with one of our team to discuss our pricing options and your unique video streaming requirements.
Twilio offers multiple, flexible APIs that enable you to create seamless video experiences with adaptive bitrates and exceptional playback. Broadcasters can use Twilio’s platform to build applications for their live events and VOD messaging.
The Twilio Live REST API, its video streaming API, allows you to create and manage high-quality live streaming application resources from your back-end server via HTTPS requests to an unlimited audience. The REST API and Player SDK work in conjuction with Twilio Video Rooms to create streamable content.
Other features include:
- The ability to record videos in real time and modify them later to play on demand
- Interactive streams where the host and speakers can interact with one another in real time
- Playing in both Android and iOS apps
Twilio’s most popular pricing model is Video Groups for up to 50 participants, starting at $0.004 per participant per minute.
Brightcove’s comprehensive APIs let you customize, extend and integrate with Brightcove’s platform. With Video Cloud token-based REST APIs, you can:
- Easily access all your video content, metadata, publishing and analytics APIs
- Reach your audience with RTMP and HLS outputs
- Deploy video in your mobile apps
- Integrate with third-party technologies like CMS services and DAM systems
- Extend video player functionality with plugins
For pricing, you need contact Brightcove directly.
One of Wowza’s core products, Wowza Video, is a cloud-based platform that offers robust API coverage, ranging across transcoding and asset management to advanced workflows and playback optimization.
Wowza’s REST API uses HTTP to request information from Wowza’s servers through requests to API endpoints, granting you complete programmatic control and managing power over live streams, stream sources, targets, transcoders and more.
You can use Wowza’s live streaming API to:
- Configure live streams
- Collect viewer data and streaming metrics
- Simultaneously stream adaptive bitrates
- Access CMS functionality
- Ingest and convert timed metadata
Pricing depends on a plan. Pay As You Go costs £25 per month plus usage.
Kaltura offers access to plenty of APIs that let you build custom apps and integrate with your existing video solutions. It’s open source, with many developers taking advantage of it, which means the platform isn’t short of handy features.
Some functionalities include:
- Adaptive bitrate streaming
- Interactive live streaming
- Ingesting content in bulk
- Broadcasting live events or 24/7 channels to any screen
- Cloud transcoding
For pricing options, you need contact Kaltura directly.
With live streaming APIs, you can take full control of your live streaming, build powerful applications in different formats, and create customized platforms that save you time, money and effort for your next live stream.
If you’re ready to take your live streaming to the next level, check out our award-winning live streaming solutions and take advantage of our 30-day free trial.