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Live Streaming

Mar 15, 2012 11:39 AM, By Jan Ozer

Choosing a live streaming service provider (LSSP).


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Figure 5. Livestream’s Procaster application enables multiple file encoding and distribution.

EMBEDDING

Embedding a live video stream from an LSSP is very similar to embedding a YouTube video into a website. You can see this in Figure 4, from LSSP Bambuser, which does a nice job allowing me to embed a compact player into my own website with access to my video library and social media links. On the right, you see there are two configurations, expanded (shown) and integrated, and that you can customize the size of the player. Then you copy the embed code shown just below these options, and paste it into the HTML in your website.

Bambuser does a nice job with its embedded player because its target customers are those who primarily want to use the embedded player, not the channel page. Sites like Ustream and particularly Justin.tv, who see their primary value in the ability to deliver eyeballs to your channel page, offer a different range of options. For example, Justin.tv offers only a simple video player without access to other content, while Ustream lets you include libraries of content in your embedded player, but when you click to play these videos, you jump back to your Ustream channel page to view them. Livestream does a nice job straddling both fences, with a well-featured channel page and embedded player.

In addition, some sites, including Livestream and Ustream, let you embed video playback into your Facebook page or wall, which is great if you’re trying to draw viewers to your Facebook pages. Many others simply let you post links to the video in Facebook, which viewers click to view the video on your channel page.

PLATFORMS

The final playback-related consideration involves which platforms the videos play on and at what cost. Of course, all LSSPs offer Flash-based playback on desktop computers for both the channel page and embedded players. Once you consider devices, however, compatibility is all over the map, and may be different for the channel pages and embedded pages.

For example, one of Bambuser’s major value propositions is extensive mobile support for both playback and broadcasting. However, while its channel page played fine on my iPad, the standard embedded player didn’t even appear on my iPad; the company is working on an HTML5 player that will display on any HTML5-compatible devices including iDevices. Another example is Justin.tv, which charges $4.99 for its iPhone player and $9.99 for its iPad player, without which their videos won’t play on these devices.

The permutations are too complex and fluid to present in a features table. When choosing a provider, you need to decide whether the channel page or embedded pages take precedence, if either does, and identify the target platforms that you care most about. Then, you should sign up for free accounts at the LSSPs that you’re considering and test the playback compatibility across the relevant matrix of player and platform.



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