Since its inception, the internet has totally changed the way we communicate. One of the areas that the internet has revolutionized the most is video. Video was something complicated. Produced, distributed and broadcasted by experts and only seen in television sets or movie theaters.  Today video over the internet otherwise called video streaming is everywhere. It is an intrinsic part of our lives. We stream in our pc’s. We stream in our smartphones, we stream in out tablets. Not only we watch streams but with a click of a button we can also produce and distribute streams anytime and anywhere.  Having been involved in streaming media for many years I get asked a lot is about the using live vs On demand streaming. There is no one answer. As I always explain, depends on what needs to be accomplished.

As a business, there are many options at your disposal involving video that can help you reach your goals. In most cases, the path you take will often boil down to preference and what makes the most sense for your brand, whether that means you stream live video or provide on-demand videos that can be viewed whenever.

Both models provide some compelling benefits, and at times they even overlap, giving you the best of both worlds. But each of these approaches have drawbacks as well, and pose a different set of challenges. In the epic battle between live streaming and on-demand video, your business or organization needs to know the basics of each, and what each approach can offer. Get ready for Live v On-Demand: Dawn of Decision Making.

Live Video Streaming.

Live video streaming is essentially like television broadcasting, but over the Internet. Content that you produce is delivered in real-time to anyone who’s watching on an Internet-connected device.

Pros of Live Streaming.

Compared to TV, live streaming has some big advantages:

  • Affordable– basic live streaming can be done for free, and even higher-quality broadcasts suitable for most organizations can be set up for a few hundred or thousand dollars.
  • Accessible – anyone connected to the Internet can access your stream, which means it’s a way to communicate with a widely scattered audience, without the hassle of local broadcasts and competition to find a slot on crowded airwaves.
  • Configurable– live video streaming gives you a great many options compared to TV. For example, you can restrict content to certain IP addresses, so that only people in designated countries can access content. Or, you can put your content behind a paywall so that viewers have to pay-per-view or purchase a subscription. You can even embed your live streaming video on your website or social media pages to leverage your existing community.
  • Enjoyable – live streaming gets people excited because it seems more authentic. Studies have shown that, when compared to on-demand video, live streaming produces more audience engagement and is more likely to lead to desirable outcomes.
  • Intimate – streaming content live lends it a more honest feeling. There’s no chance of using special effects or editing footage too much, so viewers feel more immersed in the content, especially since live streaming can be used to give unprecedented access, such as behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

Interactive– live streams can be integrated with live chat, commenting, and polling features to make for a more engaging experience.

Cons of Live Streaming.

One of the major downsides to live streaming is that it can be more technically demanding. You will still need all the basic filming equipment, some additional gear (namely a hardware or software encoder), and a fast Internet connection.

Since content is being produced live, there is no latitude for mistakes; anything that goes wrong is going straight to your audience. That means you’ll have to be more careful to get everything right the first time around.

The Basics: Video On-Demand.

Video on-demand is simply video that’s available via the Internet to be watched at the viewer’s discretion. Think of Netflix or YouTube: these are video on-demand platforms which you can access whenever you feel the need to watch something.

Pros of Video On-Demand.

  • Convenient– you can tune in and watch your choice of programming at any time. There’s no waiting time, and your content will be easily archived for future viewing.
  • Time-Delayed– video on-demand involves producing content, editing it, and then uploading it for later viewing. This can be a major advantage over live streaming since it gives you time to create better productions, hold multiple shoots, find the best camera angles, and invest in effects and graphics.
  • Simplicity– compared to live streaming, all you need to record content for video on-demand is a camera. That makes it more suitable for very low budgets, locations where Internet access is a practical impossibility, and situations where larger equipment isn’t feasible to carry around or stage on-site.
  • High-Quality– video quality is usually better when it comes to on-demand since upload speeds are no longer an issue. Instead, the viewer’s Internet download speed is the only constraint on file sizes, making HD and even 4K video more feasible.

Cons of Video On-Demand.

The major downside of video on-demand compared to live streaming is that it doesn’t generate the same buzz. People simply aren’t as likely to get excited about a video they can watch at any time compared to a one-time live streaming event.

In today’s social media driven world, this can reduce the amount of social sharing that happens around your event, and can promote obscurity rather than driving attendance and sales, which is not an ideal way to market content.

Use Cases.

Live video is best for large, exciting, one-time events like sports competitions, plays, music festivals, and conferences. It leverages people’s excitement and creates an incentive to attend virtually, even if you can’t be there in person.

On-demand video, by contrast, is best for content that isn’t time sensitive and doesn’t have a compelling reason to be broadcast live. Training/Education, classes, and long multi-session events are best suited for on-demand so that they can be watched at the viewer’s leisure.

The Strengths of Both.

However, these approaches are strongest when combined. For example, you may want to live stream the keynote components of an extended, multi-day conference to generate excitement and share the timeliest information without the difficulty of live streaming a dozen sessions at the same time.

On the flip side, live streamed video can also be captured and used for later on-demand viewing. You might decide against this approach in order to increase attendance in-person and via live stream, but similarly, you may decide that open and ongoing access is more important than anything else. Once you figure out which model (or combination of models) makes most sense for your organization, you’ll be amazed by how effective video can truly be.