Live streaming has a common misconception out there that it’s “just for gamers” or “no one wants to see me live”. But perhaps you might want to think again. How many of the social media apps that you’re using right now have a live stream button on them?
Almost all of them, right?
It could also be a new way of doing business as well, something that could potentially bring in a lot of revenue for your company.
It’s not something to brush off lightly now that video streaming is starting to take off. So here are 7 of the best streaming software that you can download and use today.
Some of the streaming platforms in this list are paid for by any professionals out there, but most of them have free access to get started.
Ready? Let’s fly.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links that may provide a small commission to me at no cost to you (it will buy me a cup of coffee though 😉). However, these are the best tools to help you with live streaming. You can read more about my affiliate disclosure in my affiliate policy.
What is the Best Streaming Software?
Below are my top picks for the best streaming software. You can use these on most streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, and more!
The Best Streaming Software Overall.
OneStream lets you either pre-record or stream to your audience in real time. You can then multicast it to over 40+ social media channels.
It is extremely easy to use and completely cloud-based, meaning you can access it anytime you have an internet connection with no software to download. To use it:
- You simply choose the file you want from your computer or cloud drive;
- Schedule the day and time you wish for it to stream automatically;
- Select your streaming destination.
Everything will be handled automatically for you, from the transcoding to the processing, to the live itself.
With their new real-time streaming, you can even connect other streaming tools and then choose multiple platforms to multi-stream to at the same time.
- The ability to multicast to 40+ streaming networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, Periscope, etc
- You can prerecord your videos and schedule them to your destination up to 60 days in advance
- Configure and stream your own custom RTMP streaming using Server URL and Stream Key
- No software to download
- Manage team members together and live stream more efficiently
OneStream provides 4 plans to choose from. You can pay monthly or yearly and save 20% when you pay for the yearly option.
|Free||Basic||Standard (Best Value)||Professional|
|Unlimited Live Streaming||Unlimited Live Streaming||Unlimited Live Streaming||Unlimited Live Streaming|
|No Multicasting||Multicasting (Pre-recorded only)||Multicasting (Pre-recorded & Real-time)||Multicasting (Pre-recorded & Real-time)|
|5 min max / recorded stream||15 min max / recorded stream||1 hr max / recorded stream||8 hrs max / recorded stream|
|1 Social account||3 Social accounts||25 Social accounts||50 Social accounts|
|5 GB max file size||5 GB max file size||Unlimited file size||Unlimited file size|
Best suited for those live streamers that like to really engage with their viewers with recorded 180º and 360º videos. While it’s designed to market to businesses that use live streaming, the best thing is anyone can use it.
The Best Free Streaming Software.
StreamYard is a very simple and easy-to-use streaming platform. It is like a no-frills service in that there are no plugins, no software to download, and works straight from your browser.
You are also able to stream to multiple social media platforms simultaneously. This is great as it means you no longer need multiple devices to broadcast to!
- Perfect for live interviews. Have up to 10 people in the stream
- Works with Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Periscope, and Twitch
- Custom RTMP outputs
- The ability to show viewer comments on the screen
- Add a call to action during the live stream with a single click
Like the software itself, the StreamYard pricing plan is also very simple. There are 3 plans to choose from, and if you choose a paid plan, you could save $60 if you pay yearly on the basic plan or $120 a year for the professional.
|StreamYard branding on screen||No StreamYard branding on screen||No StreamYard branding on screen|
|6 on screen participants||10 on screen participants||10 on screen participants|
|20 hrs / month Streaming limit||Unlimited Streaming||Full HD (1080p)|
|Screen sharing||4 hrs Recording / stream||8 hrs Recording / stream|
|Customize colors||3 Multistream destinations||8 Multistream destinations|
Best suited for the entry live streamer. The free plan is definitely enough if you wanted to get your feet wet. It may not be as powerful or as high quality compared to the other software in this list, but it is definitely the quickest and easiest streaming service to get started with.
The Best Professional Live Streaming Software.
If you’re serious about live streaming, then Wirecast (built by the company Telestream) is for you. The features alone make it the ultimate streaming platform in the industry.
I’m talking about TV-quality video streaming because of the audio and visuals, it is just that good!
Now, if you’re thinking that this must be hard to set up, I’ve got good news for you. All you have to do is plug in your camera and microphones, bring in your videos and graphics, and Wirecast will take care of the rest.
No matter where your audience is globally.
So it doesn’t matter if your live stream is of worship services, graduations/award ceremonies, live sports (with instant replay), TV/radio/news broadcasts, or simply using it for digital marketing, Wirecast has you covered.
There are a lot of them! But some of them include the following:
- Automatically detects NDI sources with a built-in web browser
- Stream to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, or any RTMP destination
- A stock media library with over 500,000 unique assets directly inside Wirecast
- Professional audio that supports ASIO, WASAPI, and CoreAudio compatible gear
- P2P conferencing and remote production built-in
- Expanded output options via NDI, or baseband SMI/HDMI
Definitely more on the pricey side, but there’s a 30-day free trial for you to check out all of the advanced features available. Just know that if you do a live stream, there is a little Wirecast watermark on the screen.
The streaming software can be downloaded onto either a Mac or Windows operating system, so it’s a one-time fee.
|Wirecast Studio||Wirecast Pro (Best Value)|
|2 Remote guest conferencing||7 Remote guest conferencing|
|Enhanced Production||Advanced Production|
|1-4 Slot multi-viewer output||1-17 Slot multi-viewer output|
|Social media and Stock media library integration||Sports production (instant replay, scoreboards)|
While it is more expensive than others on this list, the fact is that if you’re a professional and looking to take your live streaming up a notch, you would be getting a mini cinema experience right from your computer.
It definitely is one of the best streaming software on the market.
Best Freemium Live Streaming Service for Broadcasters and Gamers.
There are two versions of XSplit to be aware of – the XSplit Broadcaster and the XSplit Gamecaster. Both versions are essentially the same, with the same interface, and contain all the essentials for live streaming and gaming.
The difference is that the XSplit Gamecaster is just a stripped-down version of the Broadcaster, so we’ll focus on that version.
Unless you’ve got a Windows operating system, then you’ll be unable to use this software. Although, don’t worry they assure me that the streaming software is coming for Mac.
- Live stream and record in 4k60fps and beyond
- Supports popular capture cards and webcams (Logitech, AVerMedia, etc)
- Ability to remove the background with Chroma Key
A Free version is available for download with very limited features.
Premium Features (includes all Apps – Broadcaster and vCam)
|3 Month License||12 Month License||36 Month License||Lifetime License (Most Popular)|
This is a good middle-of-the-range video streaming software that gives you plenty of options in terms of licensing. It will allow you to multi-stream like most others out there, but if you go with the free version, there is a watermark for anything above 720p.
Mac users may feel like they can’t wait for this streaming software to come out and move on to something else in the meantime.
5. Streamlabs OBS.
Best for the Professional Content Creator That Needs EVERYTHING.
Until a couple of years ago, most gamers used Streamlabs with OBS. It only then made sense to combine the two to create Streamlabs OBS (also known as SLOBS).
Because of that, it has a similar OBS feel to the interface, but it has definitely been beefed up.
It contains everything you’ll need for live streaming. From themes to widgets that allow you to interact with your audience to giving your viewers the chance to support you and monetize your live stream, potentially making you millions!
One of the best features is that it has an internal app store with over 40 apps that allow you to personalize and improve the look of your live stream.
If you’re using Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or Mixer, then the app store is available for you. Or if you prefer to do something completely random and draw a beard on one of your NPCs, then the feature annotate and draw lets you do something as simple as that.
The music player app has a real “Spotify” feel to it and gives you a license to access over 100,000 songs.
If you keep forgetting to let your audience know when you’re going live, then the StreamSocial app will tweet your audience automatically when you go live and will then re-tweet once your live finishes.
- Free to download
- A “drag and drop” page layout to create the ultimate UI personalized just for you
- Selective recording with the ability to choose what sources appear in the live stream, such as an alert box, event list, chatbox, etc.
- A game screen overlay that allows you to view recent events and even chat as well, all on one screen.
- Chatbot included
The Streamlabs OBS pricing structure is very straightforward. It offers a free version with plenty of useful features.
However, for just $12/month, you can join their Prime membership. Inside, it includes features such as:
- Overlays and themes
- Multistream to Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook all at once
- Access to the app store
- Customize your tip page, including the domain, design, and more
This is a great option for any streamers looking for the freedom and customization that OBS provides but who want a more user-friendly interface. It seems to be particularly gamer-friendly and fairly easy on the CPU.
Both OBS and Streamlabs OBS both seem to be fighting it out for the number one spot, so I guess it will definitely come down to user preference.
6. Twitch Studio.
Best for the Gamer Who Wants to Live Stream on Twitch for Free
It wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t include the best Twitch streaming software. The idea came about and was designed for new streamers to create content and stream directly on Twitch itself.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re just using your computer’s video and audio inputs or a more complex system, the software features a step-by-step onboarding process that will automatically detect the current hardware and set you up with minimal input.
- Customize your live streams with layouts and overlays to multiple audio sources
- Connect your mobile device and share the screen with your live stream
- Everything is built into the streaming software, no additional plugins are required
- Stream to your channel directly from your phone using the free streaming app available on both iOS and Android
Twitch Studio is completely free and offered by Twitch itself.
If you’re new to video streaming or are simply interested in what streaming platforms can offer, then this is for you.
If you’re already conducting live streams, then chances are you are likely to want a more premium offering, in which case I urge you to check out some of the other more premium streaming software above.
Bear in mind that the Mac version is different from the Windows version in that features such as game capture is not possible on Mac.
Best Live Streaming Software for Professional Users.
vMix is a powerful encoder that has a wide range of inputs. You can add multiple cameras, audio, videos, PowerPoint, chroma-key, web streams, and more.
There’s a lot of flexibility that comes with the vMix software.
If you’re using large, multi-scale video productions or just a simple person with a laptop webcam, you are your own producer.
Got a podcast or video stream an interview? Great! Just send your guest a link, and as soon as they click, they are instantly teleported into your stream.
This brings me to the graphics.
It’s clear that vMix has done an excellent job here. Where most other programs fail (for instance, when bringing on a guest and your graphics quality suffers), vMix conquers.
- Combine multiple audio/video playlists and files into a single input
- Simultaneous streaming, recording, and output to Facebook, Twitch, Ustream, and YouTube
- Virtual camera support if streaming out to 3rd party software tools like Zoom, Skype, etc
- Full 3D acceleration gives the most efficient video streaming software on the market
- Full NDI capabilities
As you can see, these are only some of the features listed. But I must make a mention here, if you’re running on a Mac, then this software isn’t available for download. However, a clever workaround is used by installing Windows via Bootcamp.
Very flexible pricing with a one-time fee (no subscriptions!), which includes free software updates for 12 months. Once that time period is up, then you can pay another small fee to keep upgrading the software.
One of the great things about vMix is that you’re able to fully test it out for 60 days with no watermark features anywhere.
|2 NDI Inputs||3 NDI Inputs||1000 NDI Inputs||1000 NDI Inputs||1000 NDI Inputs|
|768 x 576 Max Res||1920 x 1080 Max Res||1920 x 1080 Max Res||4096 x 2160 Max Res||1920 x 1080 Max Res|
|1 Overlay Channel||1 Overlay Channel||4 Overlay Channels||4 Overlay Channels||4 Overlay Channels|
|No Instant Replay||No Instant Replay||No Instant Replay||1 Camera||4 Cameras|
|No Remote Guests||No Remote Guests||1 Remote Guest||4 Remote Guests||8 Remote Guests|
|1 SRT Output||1 SRT Output||1 SRT Output||4 SRT Outputs||4 SRT Outputs|
This is a great high-end streaming software if you’re a professional or you’re after some 4k streaming.
Make sure your computer can take the minimum requirements needed to run the broadcasting software because it is very heavy on your CPU (which you’d expect from such a high-quality live stream anyway).
It offers great support and flexible pricing points that allows you to scale easily as your business grows.
Streaming Software FAQ
What is Live Streaming Software?
It is computer software, either cloud-based or downloaded software, that allows you to make a live broadcast to your audience. You can do this via your preferred streaming platform or multiple platforms simultaneously, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Periscope.
It also allows you to interact with your audience at the same time with chat and reacts.
How to Choose the Best Streaming Software?
Because you can use your live stream for a whole bunch of reasons, such as to stream video games, playlist streaming, and on-demand broadcasts, here are some tips and questions to keep in mind:
• How much do you know about the video streaming industry?
• What is your budget? There is free streaming software available.
• What features are the most important to you? For example, is 4k Ultra HD something you need as a business to showcase a product?
• Why are you using it in the first place? Streaming for gaming? Look at XSplit and Streamlabs OBS.
• Are you completely new to live streaming? Look at Twitch Studio.
• Want a professional live studio mode type of stream? Consider Wirecast and vMix.
• How powerful is your computer hardware? Perhaps you need to look at upgrading before using some CPU-hungry software.
Is There a Better Software Than OBS?
DemoCreator is your best bet for an OBS alternative. Not only does it come with the ability for pre-recorded videos, but also includes editing features that will allow you more creative freedom when making content. You can choose between recording part-of full screen or webcam footage simultaneously too, so there’s something here no matter what type of project idea pops into mind first.
So which is the best live streaming software? The answer is it depends. They all do live streaming, it’s just a matter of picking one that is right for you and has the streaming tools you need.
Most of them have a unique feature or selling point that will entice you into that particular streaming service.
If you’re a professional broadcaster or looking at having a high video-quality live stream, then getting some sort of open-source software is essential.
Something that most live streaming software companies will allow you to take advantage of is some sort of free trial for you to test out and see which one fits your personality and which UI you like the best before making a purchase.
Let me know which streaming software is right for you and why.
It’s time to be the pilot of your life and not the passenger.
Chris Bournelis is a blogger, search engine optimization, and content marketing specialist. He has been working in the online business since 2015. Join him here at ChrisBournelis.com for the best SaaS reviews and tips to get the most out of your online business.