How Live Streaming & Webcasting Works

Are you curious to learn what is involved in putting together a livestream or webcast for a live event or studio broadcast?

The process of how to stream video online is quite simple. It can be done with consumer level equipment (phone, camcorder, laptop) and it can scale up to professional and broadcast level equipment.

We’ve done our best to break down the required equipment below. For each category there are various levels of quality, but the steps are all the same.

  1. Content – Video Camera, Slide Presentations, Audio, etc.)
  2. Mixing – Switching between content
  3. Encoding – Converting the mixed content into an online viewable format with a reduced file size.
  4. Uploading – Getting the content online
  5. Distribution – Sharing on your website, Youtube, Facebook, etc.

Capturing Your Video Content

Before you worry about setting up your live stream, it’s important to consider what you want your audience to see. Do you want them to see the presenter, the slides (Powerpoint, Keynote, etc.), or do you want them to see a mix of both?

If you want your guests to see the person who is presenting the content you can use some of the following options:

If you want your online audience to see the slides or video from your presentation, you will need one of the following options:

Mixing Your Webstream Content

You will need a mixer if you plan on switching between various sources for your webcast. A source can be any of the following:

For most livestreams you will need to have two types of mixers:

  • Audio Mixer (for switching between different microphones)
  • Video Switcher (for switching between video sources)

For audio mixers, it really depends on how many inputs (microphones) you require, but you may need:

For video switchers and video switching you can use one of the following:

  • Capture Card & Software (Blackmagic, etc.) ($500-2000)
  • Hardware video switcher ($1,000-10,000)

Video Livestream Encoding

Encoding is the process of converting your video/audio from the mixer into a format that is viewable online. There are two main ways to do this:

  • Laptop ($500-5000)
  • Dedicated Hardware Encoder ($1,000-10,000)

With either solution you will connect your video mixer (sometimes software on the same laptop) to your encoder (laptop / hardware). The encoder will capture the video and convert it to be online friendly.


Once your video content is “online friendly”, then you’re ready to send it online. For this, there are four common methods:

  • Wired Internet Connection (20 – 300MB/s Upload Speed)
  • Wifi Internet Connection (5 – 300 MB/s Upload Speed)
  • Cellular Bonding (2 – 100 MB/s Upload Speed)
  • Cellphone or Mobile Hotspot 1-10 MB/s Upload Speed

Wired internet is obviously the best, fastest, and most reliable internet connection. That being said, depending on the venue, the wired internet can often be speed restricted or block various websites that host video content (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and may require advanced configuration to allow your encoder to upload your video stream.

Wifi is generally pretty fast and easy to connect to. The main concern with Wifi is that it will work fine during your test, but maybe it will be less reliable once more devices connect during your event. It can be wildly unpredictable.

Cellular Bonding uses dedicated hardware that allows you to connect multiple SIM cards to multiple phone networks and (sometimes) also connect to WIFI or wired internet. It combines multiple sources to provide one (mostly) guaranteed connection. The downside with this method is the associated cost of setting up multiple cell phone accounts and wired internet.

Mobile Hotspot is the simplest way to connect your encoder to your phone’s internet connection. That being said, connection speeds can be extremely unpredictable and should not be used unless it’s your last available option.

Online Video Distribution

Once your have your content mixed and encoded with a reliable internet connection it’s time to consider where you want your viewers to see your video stream. Popular services include:

  • IBM Cloud Streaming
  • Vimeo Live Stream
  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • Periscope
  • etc.

The main consideration for your distribution is where you want your audience to see your web stream. If you want your live stream to be private you may want one of the companies that can provide password authentication. If you want to publicly stream to various sources at the same time, you can do that as well.

We hope this article is helpful. If you’re looking to have a company manage your live stream, webcast, or video conference for you – Please contact us – we would love to help!

Corporate Event Livestream