Live streaming is a great way to reach new audiences for your content, and it’s only becoming more popular. In fact, some projections estimate a 21.3% growth rate for this industry between 2022 and 2030, which could bring the global video streaming market size to a staggering $330.51 billion! Knowing this, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to start their own streaming channels.
If you want to broadcast live shows, host virtual events, or engage with your audience in a new way, you will need to find a suitable video streaming service. The problem is that a lot of the solutions out there are expensive and difficult to use.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free options available, too. In this article, we will show you how to find the best free live streaming platforms in 2023 and explain why they can be a good option for sharing your content.
What Makes a Good Live Streaming Platform?
Live streaming is a great way to share your videos with a broader audience, not to mention a powerful tool for engaging with your followers in real-time. This is why, when you’re looking for the best live streaming platform, a vital component should be the people you are aiming to reach with your content.
This is especially important when it comes to free live streaming software. Many of these solutions are built upon social media platforms and designed to reach a wider audience while promoting greater engagement. However, there is a tradeoff: Many of these streaming platforms have very limited built-in functionality that would let you customize your content. This means that, in trying to save money on video streaming, you might end up having less control over exactly what you broadcast and how.
So, it’s worth keeping these limitations in mind. Having said that, let’s now take a look at some of the most important things that you should consider when looking for a free live streaming platform.
- Reach and audience: You want to ensure that the platform you choose will help you reach your target audience, bring new people to your channel, and engage with all your followers more easily.
- User-friendliness: Your chosen platform should also be easy to set up and use and have a low barrier to entry. You don’t want to have to spend valuable time learning a complex tool when you could be focusing on creating better content for your stream!
- Customization and control: You want to ensure that you have as much control as possible over the quality and content of your videos and podcasts. This includes not just the branding of your stream but also what you can and cannot say during it, what music you play, and more.
- Monetization: Lastly, streaming can be a great way to bring in extra revenue – but only if the platform you choose supports content monetization. So, it’s essential to choose one that offers a monetization model that suits your needs and business plans.
The Best Free Live Streaming Platforms in 2023
We have gone through some of the downsides of using free streaming platforms and covered the most important considerations for picking the best one for your videos. With these criteria in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the best free live streaming platforms in 2023 in a little more detail.
YouTube is undoubtedly one of the most popular platforms for sharing on-demand video content. So much so, that it’s remained a prime choice for both live and pre-recorded video hosting since its Live feed was launched in 2011.
Boasting an audience of over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, YouTube is undoubtedly a great platform to find a massive audience for your streamed content. Here are some of the features that make it stand out:
- Incredibly easy to use: If you want to stream using YouTube Live, you can actually go live in seconds using either your browser or the mobile app. You should note, though, that your YouTube channel will need to have at least 1,000 subscribers if you want to stream from your phone.
- Built-in options for monetization: This platform offers various monetization options, including a tiered subscription model and ad-based revenue. YouTube also has an exclusive ‘Super Chat’ and ‘Super Likes’ system that allows viewers to pay to have their comments and likes highlighted in your stream’s chat.
- More ways to reach your audience: Unlike many social media streaming platforms, YouTube videos show up in search engine results. This makes them much more discoverable by viewers, especially when they are using YouTube’s parent company, Google, to do their searches.
- Share high-quality content: YouTube also supports 4k resolution, something other social media platforms do not offer. This means you can be sure your stream viewers have access to high-quality video content. YouTube also supports RTMP connections, which means you can connect the platform to professional (and free) streaming tools like OBS Studio and Streamlabs.
The biggest downside of YouTube is the lack of control you have over your stream content. All the videos that you share must adhere to YouTube’s strict content guidelines, and any infringements (including things like playing popular music) could lead to your content being taken down or demonetized without warning. On top of this, if you want to monetize your live video through YouTube, you will need to meet their eligibility criteria (currently having at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 valid public watch hours for your content in the last 12 months).
If there is a social media platform that can compete with YouTube, it has to be Facebook. Facebook has, in fact, over 2.9 billion monthly active users. The live-streaming component, Facebook Live, was added in 2016 and has since become a popular option.
Let’s take a look at some of the features of Facebook Live that make it a great free live streaming platform:
- No barrier to entry: Regardless of whether you stream from your laptop webcam or your mobile device, Facebook Live has no additional requirements you will need to fulfill in order to start streaming. This means you can go live in a matter of seconds!
- Built-in social network: As the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook comes with a colossal built-in network of users that can help your content’s popularity spread exponentially. Facebook also includes a multitude of options for sharing content and interacting with your audience, making it an excellent choice for both creators with an existing following and those just getting started.
- Multiple monetization strategies: Facebook Live users can monetize their streamed content through adverts – provided they meet the platform’s eligibility criteria. Other monetization options, such as subscriptions and Facebook’s ‘Stars’ system, are restricted to streamers with 10,000 or more followers.
Similar to YouTube, Facebook Live content must adhere to Facebook’s community standards guidelines and live content policies. However, there’s one big downside to choosing Facebook over YouTube: Unlike YouTube, content streamed on Facebook Live cannot be indexed by search engines, so it will be much harder for new users to find your videos.
Twitch is best known as a live streaming platform for gaming and eSports. However, it has gained a large following for other types of streamed content, such as travel, sports, and ‘just chatting’ channels. There are various reasons behind Twitch’s popularity:
- Support for creators: Twitch has a range of resources to help creators get started and improve their streams. For example, all new users are welcome to check out their useful quick-start guide. The platform also offers helpful tutorials on everything from branding to growing your community.
- Flexible streaming options: Gamers and streamers can share their videos directly from their console or PC or connect to Twitch using hardware or software encoding tools. Twitch even has its own streaming encoder program, Twitch Studio, which is designed to help new creators build and customize their streams.
- Creative monetization: Eligible streamers can monetize their content using Twitch’s affiliate program. This allows them to make money from their videos in various ways, including subscriptions, Bits (similar to Facebook Live’s ‘Stars’ system), and ad revenue.
Whether or not Twitch is a good fit for your stream will depend on the type of content you produce. While the Twitch community enjoys different genres, it remains primarily a platform for gaming streams. Aside from this, the affiliate program creates a barrier to entry for more casual or ad-hoc streamers who want to monetize their content. This is because, in order to qualify, you need to stream for a minimum of 500 minutes over seven unique live broadcasting days each month.
Primarily a platform for sharing short video clips, TikTok also offers some interesting live streaming capabilities. The tool is hugely popular with a younger audience, with the majority of TikTok users being ‘Gen Zers’ (those born between the late ’90s and early 2010s). Some of the benefits of using this platform for your live streams include the following:
- Built for engagement: TikTok is all about chatting and sharing content that is short, engaging, and has the potential to go viral. It thus has various features that can help you achieve this, such as the ability to go live together with other streamers, picture-in-picture support, and many more.
- Innovative monetization: Monetization on TikTok is closely tied to your stream’s popularity, which can be great for content creators with a large following! You can make money by receiving gifts from stream viewers or using TikTok’s Diamonds system, whereby the platform awards streamers tokens that can be exchanged for money based on the popularity of your stream.
TikTok does have some restrictions you should keep in mind if you are considering using the platform for your live video content. Firstly, not everyone can stream on TikTok – you need at least 1,000 followers to go live and 100,000 followers to access monetization options. It is also worth noting that TikTok is more suited for shorter videos, as the platform also imposes strict limits on how long your clips can be. While live content isn’t restricted in the same way, it’s worth being aware that overly long streams might not be as popular or well-suited to the platform.
LinkedIn is best known as a popular platform for growing your professional network. As a result, streams on LinkedIn Live tend to have a more work-oriented focus. However, it can be a great video streaming option if your audience is appropriate. Some of the main features of the platform include:
- Built-in tools for audience engagement: Using LinkedIn Live, you can engage with your audience before, during, and after your stream. And because LinkedIn is primarily a professional social media platform, you can post regularly in the lead-up to your event to help increase interest. All streamed content is also made available in video-on-demand (VOD) format on your personal or event feed after the stream ends.
- Opportunities for lead generation: LinkedIn Live allows you to choose if you want to either maximize reach with an open stream or gate entry behind registration to generate leads. By integrating with Zapier, LinkedIn Live also allows you to automatically sync generated leads with your client relationship manager (CRM), marketing automation platform, or thousands of other business applications.
One important thing to keep in mind is that LinkedIn Live is well-suited to business professionals looking to increase their networks (and less ideal for other forms of streaming). There are also no monetization options available through LinkedIn Live, and streaming through the platform requires a third-party streaming tool with an RTMP connection. This means that the barrier for entry is somewhat higher than when using some of the other streaming solutions mentioned in this list.
Bonus: Restream (Multistreaming)
Suppose you are looking to reach the broadest possible audience with your stream content, or you are unsure which of the above free platforms is the best fit for your stream. In that case, it might be worthwhile to consider multistreaming (streaming to multiple different platforms simultaneously using a dedicated multistreaming tool).
Restream is one such tool that offers a free way to simulcast to multiple different platforms. With built-in connections to 30+ different streaming tools and sites, it is a great way to reach a wider audience with your stream content. Or, if you’re not sure which platform will be best for your content, this an excellent opportunity to test out a variety of different free options and see which audiences engage most with your content. It even comes with additional features such as cross-platform chat and analytics to help you engage better with your audience!
The Best Alternative to a Free Social Media Streaming Platform: WpStream
In this article, we have looked at a few different free streaming platforms and seen what they can and cannot do. Generally speaking, they all offer exciting ways to engage with a broader audience, come with a low barrier to entry and, for the most part, provide a variety of ways for you to make money from your stream content. However, one area where all these platforms fall short is their ability to give you complete control over your stream content.
If you want to truly decide what you want to stream and how, you should consider using a professional streaming plugin instead of a social media platform. One option that makes this really easy is WpStream, a WordPress plugin that helps you stream videos directly to your own website without any need for third-party infrastructure.
With WpStream, you can go live from your computer or mobile device (iOS or Android) in a matter of minutes. Here’s how WpStream offers you total control over your stream content:
- White-label experience: With WpStream, you have complete control over the identity of your stream. You can, for example, customize how your video is displayed, from branding and overlays down to the look and feel of your site.
- No censorship or interruptions: By broadcasting on your own WordPress website, you can have full control over what content you broadcast, too. There’s no risk of your stream being taken down without warning and no intrusive ads interrupting your video.
- Perfect for beginners and professionals alike: WpStream works for all types of streamers. For example, newer streamers can go live using their laptop or mobile device and start sharing their content immediately. On the other hand, more professional streamers can use the platform’s compatibility with some of the most popular streaming software (like OBS, Wirecast, and StreamLabs) and even multistreaming services like Restream to bring their stream to the next level.
- Flexible monetization: With this WordPress streaming plugin, you can monetize your streams with both pay-per-view and subscription-based pricing models through robust integration with WooCommerce. These monetization models offer you more stability than ad-based or reward-based revenue paths – plus, you also get much more control over your pricing!
WpStream offers flexible subscription plans depending on your needs. You can scale up depending on your requirements for concurrent viewer numbers, streaming or recording data, and simultaneous live channels. Pricing for this plugin starts at $19/month, and you can switch your plan or cancel at any time without being tied into a long contract.
Widen Your Audience with the Help of a Live Streaming Platform
Many video creators prefer to live stream using a free platform such as YouTube, Facebook Live, or Tik Tok. These social media tools offer some interesting advantages; for example, they tend to be relatively easy to set up, and they have an existing broad audience you can tap into. They also offer monetization options, although most require you to have a certain number of followers or watched hours.
The problem is that while free streaming platforms are a great place to start, most require you to give up some control over your stream content. You can’t usually choose your own branding and have to follow strict guidelines; otherwise, you risk being demonetized or, in some cases, taken off the platform!
Depending on your requirements, a professional platform like WpStream might be a better option for you. You’ll get more control over your stream content, have access to more flexible monetization options, and be able to create a professional stream with only a small amount of effort and investment.
If you want to have full control over your streamed content, check out WpStream’s pricing calculator to find a plan that works for you.