Live Streaming Software: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Blog 1 min read | Mar 6, 2024 | JW Player


Whether you want to showcase your gaming skills, host a live Q&A session, or broadcast a special event to the world, live streaming software puts you in the director’s chair.

However, with countless live streaming software options vying for your attention, choosing the right fit can be overwhelming.

We’re here to help you break through the noise and avoid paralysis by analysis. Below, we explore what live streaming software is and why you need it.

Why Your Business Needs to Invest in Live Video Streaming

Video killed the radio star, and live streaming looks likely to be video’s heir to the content throne. While there will always be a need for video on demand content, live streamingsatisfies an in-the-moment itch that consumers have to scratch.

Modern-day consumers don’t want to watch Taylor Swift’s concert a week later—they want to watch it live with everyone else. And sports fans that don’t get to watch their team live desperately avoid screens and social media feeds until they can hide and watch in complete scoreline naïveté.

Here are a few reasons your business needs to invest in live video streaming in 2024:

What Is a Live Streaming Solution?

Live streaming software works with your hardware to transmit video content in real-time to your viewers. This technology encodes and transcodes the video content into a variety of formats to ensure top-notch performance across geographic locations, bandwidth limitations, devices, browsers, and applications.

You also use live streaming software to piece together video and audio from multiple sources. For example, you might need to mix different camera shots while combining various audio sources. With the right live streaming software solution, you can do this in real-time rather than editing it together in the studio later.

Live broadcasting software uses content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute your live stream to different locations without sacrificing performance. Multi-CDN approaches let you broadcast reliably to an international audience without your remote guests experiencing service disruptions, lag, or quality issues.

Benefits of Live Broadcasting Software

Live broadcasting software comes loaded with all the features and integrations you need to create high-quality real-time content. Here’s how the best solutions can help your business:

  • Improved Performance: Transcode your video content for optimal performance, regardless of your consumer’s location, device, or bandwidth.
  • Rapid Conversion: Quickly repurpose live video recordings into video on demand.
  • Latency Control: Lower your latency for more real-time engagement (great for live chats and interaction) or increase it to reduce playback buffering.
  • APIs and SDKs: Integrate your video content into a website, iOS application, Android application, smart TV, or OTT app.
  • Monetization Options: Choose how you want to make money from your content, whether that’s through AVOD, SVOD, TVOD, or a unique combination.
  • Live Stream Controls: Empower your users to jump in live, start from the beginning, rewind, or pause the stream.
  • Data Rights Management (DRM): Protect your content from prohibited consumption and distribution with DRM technology and best practices.
  • Support: Get professional technical support when you need help building your live streaming solutions.

Who Needs Live Streaming Software?

Anyone that wants to launch professional-quality live streams should invest in live streaming software, whether that’s for recurring events or 24/7 live broadcasts. Here are a few industries that would benefit from it the most:

  • Video Game
  • Sports
  • Education
  • Publishers
  • Film and TV
  • Fitness
  • Faith

How to Choose the Best Streaming Software

While we’ve narrowed your list down to 6, you may still be struggling to choose the right live streaming software for your business. Rather than comparing stars on review sites or creating a head-to-head features list, use the following criteria to make your decision:


Video quality needs to be first-class, and that includes live streams. Users won’t stick around if they experience buffering or audio issues, which means you need to ensure your broadcast goes smoothly from start to finish.

Find a live streaming software that has a reputation for reliable, high-quality streaming. Ideally, it should be able to transcode to a variety of formats but choose one that’ll enable 4K live streaming. Once your live stream is over, your software should make it easy to quickly convert into on-demand video files and organize them in playlists.


Decide where you’ll want your live streams to live. Do you plan on hosting them on your website or an OTT app? Do you want to also domulti-streaming on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and other social networks? Some platforms are more limited in their capabilities, so find a software solution that’ll meet your demands.

Take a forward-thinking approach when you consider distribution—while you might not have your mobile application now, is that something you want to build out in the next 3 to 5 years?

Input Capacity

If you need a simple webcam and microphone setup, most software will suffice. However, for layered broadcasts with multiple cameras, NDIs, screen captures, capture cards, and graphics, choose software that supports numerous simultaneous inputs and flexible screen compositions.

Use Cases

Define your specific needs. Are you a gamer, an educator conducting online lessons, or a business running webinars and live events? Different software excels in different areas.

For instance, gamers should look for software optimized for capturing gameplay smoothly with minimal impact on game performance. Features like game scene detection, hardware encoding support, and built-in overlays for stream chats and alerts are beneficial.

Educators need reliable screen sharing, virtual whiteboards, and the ability to record lessons or tutorials for later viewing. Zoom, Google Meet, and other dedicated learning platforms often come equipped with streaming features, but standalone software might offer more customization.

For webinars and events, aim for professional-grade solutions with virtual sets, multi-camera support, tilting tools, and advanced audio mixing for polished presentations and interviews.

System Requirements

Check the software’s minimum and recommended specs for CPU, RAM, and graphics card. Streaming can be resource-intensive, especially with high-resolution video and complex effects.

Free solutions like OBS Studio are generally lighter on resources, while premium software requires more powerful Windows or Mac systems. Ensure your computer can handle the processing load to avoid laggy streams or crashes.


Integrations with chatbots, alert systems, donation platforms, and overlays expand your stream’s interactivity and visual appeal. Plus, you can connect your stream with analytics tools to gain valuable data on viewer demographics, engagement, and performance results.


Not every platform will give you the options you want to monetize your content. Some have monetization functionality built-in, while others will require third-party plugins and likely developer resources and know-how. Depending on your situation and technical expertise, you’ll want to find the platform that allows you to monetize content on your own terms—whether that’s AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD.


Pricing is going to be one of your biggest concerns when it comes to choosing the right live streaming software solution. You’ll find a handful of free, open-source platforms on the market, but these often don’t provide the support or features you need for more high-end, professional live production.

However, they can sometimes be a good entry-level gateway to experiment with live streaming before you go all in on a more robust purpose-built product.

How to Level Up Your Streaming Game

If you want to take your streaming to the next level, it is time to get your technical ducks in a row. Even the best streaming software can only take you so far without proper preparation. So, let’s dive into some key technical considerations that will help you get the most out of your streaming experience.

Network Bandwidth: Boost Your Connection

Picture this: you are all set to stream, but your Internet connection decides to be a party pooper. Avoid this nightmare by testing your network’s upload bandwidth. No matter how amazing your streaming software is, it’s all for naught if your Internet connection is not up to par.

A handy rule of thumb is to ensure that your streaming bandwidth is at least 1.5 times greater than your streaming bitrate. That way, you’ll have a smooth and uninterrupted stream.

Video Sources: Capture the Magic

To bring your camera or any other video source into your streaming setup, you’ll likely need a trusty capture card. Capture cards play a crucial role in live streaming as they bridge the gap between your video sources and your streaming software. By capturing the video signal directly from the source, capture cards bypass the limitations of relying solely on webcams or built-in computer cameras, which may not provide the desired level of video quality or flexibility. They provide connectivity options such as HDMI, SDI, or USB, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of devices and video sources.

Some advanced capture cards even offer features like hardware encoding, which offloads the encoding process from your computer’s CPU, reducing the strain on your system and improving overall streaming performance.

System Requirements: Know the Specs

Be sure to check out the streaming software’s website for the set of minimum system requirements. And here’s a little extra something to think about: Is your streaming machine sharing CPU resources with other processes like a backchannel chat messenger, browser, or email? These resource-hungry apps can steal processing power away from encoding, which is a demanding task on its own. To minimize the chance of stream failures and dropouts, it is worth considering setting up a dedicated machine solely for live streaming. Give your stream the processing power it deserves!

Components of Live Streaming Tools

To make the most of your video production, it is essential to understand the key components that make up live streaming tools. Let’s take a look at the essential tools needed:

Capture Devices: Bring Your Vision to Life

Capture devices are the superheroes of live streaming. They allow you to capture video and audio from various sources and feed them into your streaming software. Whether you’re using a high-definition camera, a gaming console, or a screen capture from your computer, capture devices ensure that your content is captured in all its glory. From USB capture cards to HDMI capture devices, these tools transform your video sources into digital data, ready to be streamed to the world.

Encoding: Transforming Data for Streaming

Once your video and audio are captured, it’s time for encoding to step onto the stage. Encoding is the process of converting raw video and audio data into a format that can be streamed over the internet. This essential component ensures that your stream is optimized for different devices and internet connections.

Encoding tools come in different flavors, such as software encoders and hardware encoders. Software encoders use your computer’s processing power to handle the encoding task, while hardware encoders take the load off your computer’s CPU, providing a smooth and efficient streaming experience.

Streaming Platforms: Your Virtual Stage

Now that your content is captured and encoded, it’s time to take center stage on a streaming platform. Streaming platforms serve as virtual stages where you can showcase your live stream to the world. Whether you are streaming on popular platforms like Twitch, YouTube Live, or Facebook Live, or exploring niche platforms catering to specific interests, the choice of your streaming platform can greatly impact your reach and engagement. These platforms provide you with the tools to manage your stream, interact with viewers through chat, and build a dedicated community.

The components of live streaming tools work harmoniously to transform your ideas into captivating live streams. Capture devices bring your vision to life, encoding optimizes your stream for seamless delivery, and streaming platforms provide the virtual stage for your content to shine.

Picking the Right Equipment for Streaming

If you’re planning to engage in live streaming, whether it’s a conference or a simple chat in front of a camera, you’ll require several essential pieces of equipment to kickstart your endeavor. These equipment options vary, ranging from fundamental items like webcams and microphones to more intricate tools such as encoders, mixers, and audio interfaces.

Picking the Right Video Gear

Finding the perfect camera for your live video stream is super important yet it can also be a bit of a tricky task. But despite the overwhelming choices, the key is to find a camera that has the right features for you, just like any other tech product. If you are a beginner content creator, it is best to dive in with an entry-level video camera. These cameras are more affordable and portable compared to other models.

Now, if you are looking to take your live streaming game up a notch, consider going for a prosumer video camera. It is a sweet spot in terms of priceand quality. You will notice a significant improvement in video quality, and features like HDMI and connectivity will be much better. Of course, if you are ready to go all out and money is no issue, professional video cameras are the way to go.

Finding the Right Audio Gear

Now, let’s talk about the audio equipment. Having good audio can make a world of difference for your video stream or podcast. Entry-level and prosumer cameras usually have a built-in microphone but the quality is nothing to write home about. If you are on a tight budget, you can still make it work by using your camera’s built-in mic along with some extra audio gear.

For better audio quality, you will want to look into devices like USB and 3.5mm microphones. Some professional live video cameras even come with built-in microphones that offer medium to high quality. But if you want the best of the best, go for professional-grade microphones. They can take your productions to a whole new level of professionalism.

The Scoop on Mixing Equipment

When it comes to setting up your live stream, mixing equipment is a must-have. This nifty gear allows you to record multiple audio or video streams and gives you the flexibility to switch between sources during your live broadcast.

So, what should you consider when shopping for video mixing equipment? Well, size matters. Make sure it fits your setup and does not take up all your precious desk space. Check out the input and output options too.

You will want to make sure it can handle all your audio and video sources and connect seamlessly with your other equipment. User experience is key. Look for mixing equipment that is intuitive and easy to use.

The last thing you want is to get tangled up in a complicated setup when you are trying to go live. And do not forget about internet connectivity and automation. You will want mixing equipment that can handle a smooth live stream and maybe even automate certain processes to make your life easier.

What Features to Look for in a Streaming Software

Live streaming software has come a long way in the past couple of years, so these modern tools are more advanced than ever, offering intuitive interfaces that cater to the diverse needs of the virtual world. So, let’s dive into the key features you should keep an eye out for when choosing your streaming software:

  • Multiview Feature: Keeping an eye on multiple camera angles has never been easier. The multiview feature enables you to monitor all your cameras at once and effortlessly switch between them with just a couple of clicks. It’s like having your own control room, giving you the power to curate captivating visuals.
  • Preview Editor: The Preview Editor is a handy tool that lets you take a quick peek at your video clips before going live. It’s your chance to make any last-minute edits or even create a brand-new clip on the spot.
  • Scene creation: Design captivating scenes with software that supports layering multiple video sources (webcams, screen captures, video clips), customizable overlays, smooth transitions, and unique layouts.
  • Chrom key support: Take your production to the next level with green screen capabilities. This opens up possibilities for virtual backgrounds, dynamic  overlays, and creative effects within your stream.
  • OVP integrations: For content monetization, choosing software that integrates with online video platforms can be valuable. OVP features like pay-per-view, content management, and analytics will elevate your streaming workflow.
  • Sports broadcasting features: Specializing in sports? Look for tools like built-in scoreboards, instant replay capabilities, or slow motion, that enhance your sports coverage and analysis.
  • Ease of use: Even the most advanced features fall short if the software is challenging to navigate. Prioritize a clean interface, user-friendly workflows, as well as detailed documentation or a supportive online community to remain focused on creating content instead of battling the software.
  • Support team: Don’t underestimate the value of reliable customer support. Whether through documentation, tutorials, or a responsive support team, the ability to get help with technical issues can significantly reduce downtime.
  • Local recordings: Capture and archive your live streams with local recordings capabilities. You can then repurpose content for VOD, create highlight reels, or simply keep it as a backup.
  • Pre-recorded video support: Effortlessly incorporate pre-recorded videos into your live streams. This feature is essential for adding intros, outros, highlight clips, or pre-produced segments, offering flexibility and variety to your broadcast content. Wirecast is an example of a platform offering this feature.
  • Platform integrations: Streamline your broadcasting with direct integration to platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Live. To expand your reach, look for multi-source streaming capabilities and social media integrations. For niche audiences or specific setups, ensure support for custom RTMP destinations.

Live Stream at Scale With JW Player

Looking to take your live streaming content to the big stage? Trust JW Player to deliver at scale. We’ve built our all-in-one live-streaming software solution to handle everything from local live events to gaming to 24/7 live broadcasting channels.

Here are a few of the standout features that make JW Player the most versatile, industry-leading choice:

  • Full Event DVR: Pause, rewind, rewatch, and repurpose content with ease.
  • Streaming Distribution: Stream live events to your mobile apps, OTT apps, social media platforms, and web players.
  • Ad Support: Monetize your live streams with built-in ad support and broadcast monetization options.
  • 24/7 Broadcasts: Deliver high-quality video experiences every second of every day to global audiences at scale.
  • DRM: Protect your content from theft and illegal distribution.

Plus, enjoy additional features such as:

  • Extensive Themes/Templates: Personalization is key when it comes to live streaming. Look for software that offers customizable themes and templates, allowing you to create a unique and immersive experience for your viewers. From a captivating welcome screen to eye-catching interval fillers, make your live stream truly yours.
  • Real-TimeAnalytics: Stay in the know with real-time analytics. This feature is crucial for measuring the success and engagement of your live stream. Keep track of metrics like viewer count, new subscribers, and even engagement based on geographical and demographic data. By understanding your audience, you can tailor your live stream to their preferences.
  • API and SDK: For all you tech-savvy streamers out there, pay attention to the availability of developer-friendly mobile SDK and API infrastructure. These tools allow you to integrate your live stream with other services, cloud video applications, and digital media workflows. It’s like unlocking a world of possibilities for your content.
  • Social Media Integration: Take your live stream to the next level by leveraging extensive social media integration. Look for software that enables you to simultaneously live stream on multiple platforms. Expand your reach, engage with diverse audiences, and make a splash across different virtual stages.