Blog

Best 8 Streaming Software For Online Video Creators

Content

Best 8 Streaming Software For Online Video Creators

Live Streaming is a fast-growing medium for creators. The ability to live broadcast content directly to your audience is unbeatable and helps you build a strong community feeling with your viewers. That said, live streaming isn’t always the most straightforward process. An essential part of streaming any type of content is your streaming software, but how do you know which one is right for you? 

In this guide, we take you through 8 of the best live streaming software available for different use cases so that you can make an informed decision before you get started.

TL;DR

  • Streaming software converts video or audio input into a digital format for live streaming. 
  • When choosing a streaming software, make sure to think about budget, number of inputs, the ability to include remote guests, and to locally record your stream (amongst other things)
  • You’ll need a camera, mic, streaming software and platform, and good lighting to get started with live streaming. 
  • Some of the best streaming software available are Riverside.fm, OBS Studio, and X-Split Broadcaster

What is streaming software?

Also known as ‘encoding software,’ streaming software is key to streaming high-quality video or audio over the internet to major live streaming platforms, social media platforms, and other applications. 

What does streaming software do?

Streaming software is called a ‘software encoding program’ that converts video or audio input into a digital format that can be played across various devices and platforms. 

In addition, most live streaming software allows you to maximize audio and video quality, switch between multiple audio/video inputs, live mix during your broadcast, and customize your stream for a personal touch. 

You’ll also see references to hardware encoders that carry the same function, but we don’t look at them in this article. 

What is a live streaming platform? 

A live streaming platform is the final destination for the content converted by your streaming software. Live streaming platforms are essentially video hosting platform that allows you to broadcast your content. Some platforms let you stream across different channels simultaneously to maximize your reach and exposure. 

Popular examples include Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Live, and LinkedIn. 

What is the best stream software?

Understandably, all creators looking to tap into the world of live streaming will want to use the best software available. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Depending on your specific budgetary, functionality, and content creation needs, your criteria for streaming software will be different. 

Factors to consider when choosing the best streaming software

Before selecting a streaming software, here are a few of the factors that you should take into account: 

Budget and available pricing plans 

Before you can consider additional functionality, you need to have a good idea of how much (if anything) you can pay for your streaming software. Although the free plan might be plenty, often, if you opt for a premium plan, you’ll gain access to exclusive features and extended functionality. 

Multiple Inputs 

The flexibility and freedom to include more than one video source are critical for live video streaming. For example, if you’re a gamer, you may want both your screen and yourself to be visible. Your software encoder should enable you to seamlessly switch between your video inputs during your broadcast. 

Live Mixing Abilities 

If you want the creative freedom to include other media (audio or visual) in your stream, take a look at what kind of live mixing is possible with the streaming software you have in mind. In addition, if your live stream is branded, keep an eye out for software that provides for customization with logos, transitions, and more. 

Local Recording of Your Stream 

You may think live streaming is all about the live element. However, the ability to locally record your broadcast in full HD means you can reuse your content and allow your viewers to replay the stream!

Ability to Include Guests  

Depending on the type of content you’re live streaming, you may want the ability to include remote guests in your live stream.

Supported Platforms 

Although most streaming software will support and be compatible with the major streaming platforms, it is good practice to verify this. You should also look for streaming software that allows you to broadcast to several platforms at once (i.e., a multistreaming platform). This is essential for maximizing your reach and streaming your content to a diverse audience. 

Supported Operating Systems

You’ll need to check that your ideal streaming software is compatible with your computer’s operating system. 

What Equipment Do I Need to Live Stream?

Although every streamers’ setup looks a little different, here are the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need to start live streaming: 

Video Camera or Webcam 

If you’re just starting, chances are your computer’s built-in webcam will do the trick. However, if you’re a stickler for quality, you can invest in an external camera or webcam. Whatever you choose, ensure your camera has an HDMI port to ensure it’s compatible with your capture card (more on this later). 

The options available to you will come down to your budget, but you’ll be able to find something to suit your needs. 

Microphone

A good-quality microphone is an absolute must for live streaming. Although you can usually get away with mediocre video quality, you should not compromise on your audio - this is what maintains audience engagement. Luckily, there is a wide variety of mics available for every budget. Why not find the best microphone for your setup using our guide? 

Capture Card 

If you’re new to live streaming, you may not be aware that you’ll need a capture card. This device transfers your video from your camera to your live streaming setup and is necessary if you’re using a software encoder (which, we presume you are).

Good Lighting 

Although it can be easy to overlook lighting, it pays to know its value. Good lighting is key to a professional-grade live stream. It instantly maximizes your stream’s production quality and helps keep your viewers engaged. 

Streaming Software / Software Encoder

As we’ve seen, the software encoder is the software that converts your content for it to be streamed. As we’ll see below, several options are available that cater to different budgets and needs. 

Stable Internet Connection 

As far as possible, try and ensure that you’ve got a robust, stable, and reliable internet connection. This will ensure your stream is consistent and as high quality as possible.

Streaming platform 

Once you’ve got everything in place, you’ll need to identify the final destination for your stream. This choice will depend on your target audience, content genre, and ultimate aims for your stream. 

8 of the Best Streaming Software Options

Here we've gathered the best live streaming software available for a variety of use cases:

Best for streaming and recording 

Riverside.fm 

Riverside.fm gives you the best of both worlds. Easily livestream on Riverside or to other major streaming platforms and get an HD local recording of your broadcast. Simply sit down to record and start livestreaming without the need for an encoder. 

Price: Free plan, Paid plans start from $15/month. 

Supported Operating Systems: N/A, Riverside.fm is web browser-based.

Multiple inputs: Yes, share your screen and your camera simultaneously. 

Local recording: Yes, and if you include guests, their video and audio will be locally recorded on a separate track.

Guests: Yes, have up to 7 remote guests. 

Supported live stream platforms:  LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch via direct integration; any other platform via custom RTMP.

Other features: 

  • Audience live call-in and live chat 
  • Live mixing with Riverside’s Media Board 
  • Easily edit your recording with the Magic Editor 

Best for Livestreamers on a Budget & Beginners 

OBS studio - ‘Open Broadcaster Software’ 

Price: Free & open-source software.  

Supported Operating Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux. 

Multiple inputs: Yes. 

Local recording: Yes.

Guests: Yes, but you have to use a call software like Zoom or Skype.

Supported live stream platforms:  All major platforms (with multistreaming). 

Other features: 

  • Real-time video/audio mixing. Include images, text, capture cards, and more. 
  • Unlimited number of scenes and custom transitions
  • Intuitive audio mixer with in-built noise suppression and gain. 
  • Huge ability to customize OBS 
  • Modular ‘Dock’ UI means that you can rearrange your setup to your liking. 
  • Chroma key compatible 

Streamlabs OBS/Desktop 

Streamlabs OBS is a cloud-based streaming software that takes inspiration from OBS and was created as a more user-friendly version. 

Price: Free & Open source, Prime Membership - $19/month. 

Supported Operating Systems: Mac OS. 

Multiple inputs: Yes.

Local recording: Yes. 

Guests: Only if using a video or voice call software such as Skype or Discord. 

Supported live stream platforms: Twitch, Youtube, and Facebook, multistream is available with Prime membership. 

Other features: 

  • Personalize your UI by customizing your layout 
  • Selective recording. Choose which sources appear in your live stream or recorded video. 
  • Replay buffer
  • Game overlay for single monitors 
  • Bespoke app store for additional tools and plugins 
  • Aggregated chat (when multistreaming) 
  • Monetization options 
  • Backed up to the cloud 
  • Overlays and custom templates 

Twitch Studio 

Designed specifically for Twitch users and still in the Beta phase. 

Price: Free for Twitch users. 

Supported Operating Systems: Windows and Mac. 

Multiple inputs: Multiple audio sources. 

Recording: Yes, local recording.  

Guests: Twitch’s Squad Stream allows up to 4 creators to go live and stream together.

Supported live stream platforms: Twitch 

 Other features: 

  • Personalize your stream with layouts and overlays
  • Scene transitions & green screen 
  • Connect your iPhone or iPad to share the screen 
  • Easy to use & setup for beginners with guided onboarding 
  • Built-in alerts, activity feed, and Twitch chat 

Best for Professional Events

Wirecast 

Price: $599 for Wirecast Studio Plan, $799 for Wirecast Pro Plan. 

Supported Operating Systems: Windows and Mac. 

Multiple inputs: Unlimited Inputs. 

Recording: Yes, stream and record. ISO recording means you can record each input into an individual recording.

Guests: Yes with Wirecast Rendevous Conferencing, 2 with Studio Plan, 7 with Pro Plan. 

Supported live stream platforms: Unlimited destinations with multistreaming. 

Other features: 

  • Include pre-recorded content in your live stream or use media from their stock library. 
  • With the Pro Plan: Replay, Scoreboards, and clocks & timers. 
  • Download the free wireless camera app so you can use any iOS device as a video source.
  • Facebook Live and Twitter integration for displaying comments on your live stream and for live polls and viewer counts. 
  • Flexible UI.
  • Chroma Key compatible. 
  • High-quality encoding for maximum quality. 

Best for E-Sports, Gamers & Console Gameplay

Lightstream Studio

Price: 

Gamer (console streams with overlays and alerts) 

$7/month - max 720p, 30FPS resolution, or $14month - max 1080p, 30FPS resolution.

Creator (Advanced Live Video Production) 

$20/month - max 720p, 30FPS resolution, $40/month - max 1080p, 30FPS resolution.

Supported Operating Systems: Web-browser-based. 

Multiple inputs: Unlimited Inputs. 

Recording: Yes, stream and record. ISO recording means you can record each input into an individual recording.

Guests: Up to 7 remote guests with Creator Plan.   

Supported live stream platforms: All major platforms as well as custom RTMP.  

Other features: 

  • Branded overlays. 
  • Flexible UI for improved usability. 
  • Alerts and interactive widgets for optimized audience experience. 

vMix

Price: Lifetime License: BasicHD  - $60, Pro - $1200, Subscription License: $50/month. 

Supported Operating Systems: Windows. 

Multiple inputs: Yes, it supports a variety of inputs, up to 4 inputs with Basic HD and up to 1000 inputs with Pro plan. 

Recording: Yes, but not local. 

Guests: Supported if you purchase Vmix Call.

Supported live stream platforms:  Livestream to up to 3 streaming platforms at once. 

Other features: 

  • Instant replay, slow motion, and scoreboards.
  • Display content from social media.  
  • Chroma key compatible.
  • Up to 4k resolution. 

X-Split Broadcaster 

Price: $60/year. 

Supported Operating Systems: Windows. 

Multiple inputs: Yes, compatible with a variety of sources. 

Recording: Yes, local recording with multitrack audio. 

Guests:  Only if you use a video/audio call software like Discord. 

Supported live stream platforms: Multistream to major platforms simultaneously.

Other features: 

  • Stream and record in 4k with no lag. 
  • Social media chat integration with Facebook, Twitch, and Youtube. 
  • Branded transitions and elements.
  • Live illustrations. 
  • Customizable interface for improved user experience.
  • Scene presets. 
  • Automated noise suppression.  

Streaming software FAQs

Is there better software than OBS?

As we’ve seen, OBS isn’t the only streaming software out there. Many different options may cater better to what you’re looking for. 

What streaming software should I use in 2022?

The answer to this all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a professional and effective solution, why not try Riverside.fm? If you’re on a budget and looking for streaming software that is easy to use, give OBS or Streamlabs OBS a try. 

What's an alternative to OBS?

All of our recommendations above are reliable alternatives to OBS, offering some of the same features and some additional functionality. 

Is it better to stream from twitch or OBS?

OBS is a software encoder, while Twitch is a live streaming platform, so there’s no accurate comparison here. If you stream to Twitch using OBS, then you’ll most probably have an excellent quality live stream. 

What can I use instead of Streamlabs OBS?

Streamlabs OBS is an excellent option for beginners and live streamers new to streaming. Once you’re ready to move on, you could try Riverside.fm or VMix, for example. 

Which is better, OBS or XSplit Broadcaster?

It depends on what you’re looking for. OBS offers a great budget option and might be appealing because it’s open-source and customizable. On the other hand, XSplit offers extensive professional functionality because it’s a premium product. 

Do most streamers use OBS?

OBS is one of the most popular streaming software out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Streamers commonly use all of the software we’ve listed above. 

Should I use OBS to record?

OBS has excellent screen recording capability and will most likely do the trick.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Highly curated content, case studies, Riverside updates, and more.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related articles

12

min read

9 Best Zoom Alternatives for Online Recording 2022 (Free & Paid)

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.

12

min read

How to Make a Successful Podcast: 15 Effective Tips to Try

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.

16

min read

Podomatic Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

Riverside.fm is an audio-video tool that collapses the pod/broadcast studio experience into your browser. The service captures lossless audio and up to 4K video locally, syncs it, and uploads as you go.