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A Guide to Live Streaming

Since the late 90’s, internet streaming has allowed consumers to effortlessly find and watch video content. The concept of “live streaming” though is a fairly new development. The rapid growth of live streaming platforms can be correlated to the proliferation of smartphones and the ability to watch and create videos on the go.

Live streaming platforms are most popular among 16-24 year olds. If targeting this demographic is a top priority for your brand, live streaming could be the key.

With so many emerging live streaming platforms, it’s hard to determine which best suits your brand. Here’s a helpful rundown of a few of the top platforms.


Live video on Tumblr

Parent Company: Yahoo

Launched: June 2016

Demographics: Millennials — Most popular with 18-29 year olds with 66% of users under 35.

Monthly Active Users: 555 Million

How to Stream: Live video on Tumblr allows users to stream video through third-party services and apps such as YouNow, Kanvas, Upclose, and YouTube. The apps publish live streams to Tumblr’s native video player.

Pros: All followers are notified as soon as a Tumblr “Goes Live”. Streams can be reblogged and shared like normal Tumblr posts. Once streaming is complete, the videos are saved for future viewing. Multiple video partners supported (and rumored to expand).

Cons: Cannot go live directly through the application, making it another distribution channel for content rather than the source.

Popular Content: Since the platform is so new, it’s hard to tell what types of content will be the most popular. Judging on current content available, it appears streams of a creative nature such as art and cooking will take center stage.

Live video on Tumblr

Via TechCrunch



Parent Company: Twitter

Launched:  March 2015

Total number of users: 10 million users (310 million Twitter users)

Demographics: Most popular with 16-34 year olds (75%) and 55-64 year olds.

How to Stream: Users can go live directly from the Twitter application but must have the Periscope app downloaded to stream.

Features: Users have an option to Tweet out a link to their live stream and make it available to the public or send an invite to specific users. Viewers can interact with streams via hearts (likes) or messages in a chat room format. Streams can be saved or set to disappear in 24 hours.

Pros: Chat room allows for user feedback during broadcast. The dedicated application allows users to follow and track separate from Twitter. You can create a private stream by inviting specific users.

Cons: Although the chat format allows viewer interaction, it doesn’t have the staying power post-stream like Facebook Live.

Popular Content: Some of the most popular streams are from celebrities and comedians. The recent Democratic House sit-in was broadcast entirely through Periscope after the C-SPAN TV’s were shut off.

Rep. Scott Peters' Periscope during the Democrats House sit-in

Rep. Scott Peters’ Periscope during the Democrats House sit-in



Parent Company: Amazon (purchased in 2014)

Launched: June 2011

Users: 100 million

Demographics: 75% male with 73% being between 18-34 years old.

How to Stream: Users can create streams straight from their desktop as well as integrated applications in gaming consoles (Xbox/Playstation/Smartphone).

Features: Launched mainly as an online video community for gamers, but branched out with a music category in January 2015 and a creative category in October 2015.

Most live streams feature videogame play with a picture-in-picture of a webcam stream. Unlike other streaming channels, where the majority of users stream from mobile, 56% of Twitch users stream via desktop.

Pros: Users are heavily engaged with the site, watching more minutes of video every month than the average YouTube user. The platform was ranked fourth in peak internet traffic in U.S. behind Netflix, Google, and Apple.

Cons: Limited content categories (mostly gaming) resulting in a niche audience.

Popular Content: Gaming and creative

Twitch Gaming


Facebook Live

Parent Company: Facebook

Launched: Spring 2016 to all users

Demographics: Millennials

Users: 1.59 billion

How to Stream: Streaming available directly through the Facebook Application. Desktop streaming available through streaming software.

Pros: Massive audience. Ability to “Go Live” directly from the Facebook application so there is no need to download additional apps. Streamers can see and respond to viewer’s live reactions and comments. Videos along with comments are saved and posted to the page after streaming which extends the life of the content and allows continued fan engagement. Users receive a notification when someone they follow goes live, and similar to Tumblr, videos get posted to the user’s page after broadcasting ends. Live video is prioritized in the news feed making it a top performer for impressions and engagement.

Cons: Pay to play channel with crowded feed that makes it hard to reach targeted users.

Popular Content: While fairly new, popular content includes answering user questions and providing quick tips and tricks to viewers.

Facebook Live

Source: Facebook

YouTube Live

Parent Company: Google

Launched: April 2011 (selectively)

Demographics: 25-34 year olds are the most popular demographic, but all ages visit the video-streaming site.

Users: 1 billion

How to Stream: Have a verified YouTube Channel with live streaming enabled. Download and setup encoder such as AirServer, Wirecast Go, and XSplit Broadcaster. To stream via mobile you must have an Android device and the YouTube Gaming application.

Unique Features: Plan live events, stream events simultaneously. Videos get saved to your profile after streaming

Pros: Larger audience and familiar platform. Monetization options like gaming sponsorships and fan-funding cards available.  

Cons: More steps and downloads required in order to stream. Mobile streaming is only available for Android users who download the YouTube Gaming app.

Popular Content: Events & Concerts

YouTube Live



Parent Company: Snapchat

Launched: September 2011

Demographics:  Millennials

Monthly Active Users: 200 Million

How to Stream: Download Snapchat mobile application

Unique Features: While not technically live streaming, Snapchat allows users to send temporary images and short videos to their friends or “story”. The content is only available for 24 hours and can only be played once (one-time replay option is available for a short time immediately after viewing snap). There are a variety of filters and stickers that can be applied. Geo-targeted filters or geo-filters can also be applied.

Pros: Ability to stream directly from application. Ability to purchase branded filters and become part of users storytelling experience. Large Millennial demographic to target.

Cons: Content disappears after 24 hours so brands need to continuously produce engaging images and videos.

Popular Content: While most use Snapchat to message friends, users also use the platform to keep up with celebrities, entertainment news, and current events.



Ultimately, you should begin your video strategy by determining the goal of your live streaming strategy. Analyze the target audience for that goal and identify the channel that best targets them.