15 Best Live Streaming Platforms and Apps in 2021

March 12, 2021

Looking for the best live video streaming platform to reach and engage with your audience? 

I’ve curated a list of 15 worth considering. You’ll learn what makes them unique, the features they offer, and how they support the monetization of your live videos. 

The Top 15 Live Streaming Platforms in 2021

  1. YouTube live
  2. Facebook Live
  3. Instagram Live
  4. LinkedIn Live
  5. Twitter Live
  6. TikTok Live
  7. Snapchat Live
  8. Twitch
  9. Facebook Gaming
  10. YouTube Gaming
  11. NulledMedia
  12. Wowza
  13. Brightcove
  14. DaCast
  15. Vimeo Live

But first, let’s define what a live streaming platform is:

What is a Live Streaming Platform?

A live streaming platform is a video hosting platform that enables users to upload and broadcast video in real-time. 

Live streaming platforms are a critical component that all live video publishers must have access to when streaming content over the internet. They act as the connector between video creators and audiences. 

Creators use them to broadcast live videos to the masses and audiences rely on them to access live streams.

Here’s a look at each live streaming platform. 

1. YouTube Live

live streaming platform youtube live

YouTube is home to 2 billion monthly users from across the globe. As much as 89% of its users are from outside of the US. While 37% of millennials binge-watch the platform daily, research also shows that 51% of boomers also watch YouTube

This makes it a boon for video content creators. There are channels on almost any subject you can imagine and people following them. 

Reasons to consider using YouTube Live as your live streaming platform:

  • Global reach provides you with every opportunity to build a large community
  • Monetization is possible 
  • Access to powerful analytics on your channel’s performance will help you elevate your video and brand
  • YouTube’s mobile app offers users content access on the go, helping you reach your audience wherever they are

YouTube Live Platform Features

While the most powerful features have been covered above, there are others that you don’t want to miss out on. 

For example, YouTube Live comes with a highlights feature. It gives creators the chance to create an edited version of their live stream while it’s running, something that can attract more viewers looking for something to watch.

YouTube Live also offers a chat tool that powers audience engagement that can be moderated. 

Lastly, Premiers (only available on Desktop) allows you to showcase videos people view together for the first time, helping creators generate more interest and excitement around new content. 

YouTube Live Monetization Features 

Monetizing videos is a major drawcard for YouTubers. Live video can be monetized in five ways:

YouTube Live Pricing 

YouTube doesn’t charge a fee to use their live streaming feature, however, when monetizing live videos you will be subject to its revenue share policy.

2. Facebook Live

live streaming platform facebook live

Facebook Live was launched in 2016. Since then, it’s grown into an unstoppable platform with 28% of people viewing a Facebook live stream each month. 

Facebook has a global base of over 2.7 billion monthly active users and age groups range from 13 to 65+ with Millenials forming the largest group.

Reasons to use Facebook Live as their live streaming platform:

  • Access to the largest social network in the world means greater reach for creators
  • Video creators can broadcast live from desktop and mobile devices directly to their platform pages
  • Can monetize live video
  • Live video analytics offer keen insights on audience engagement

Facebook Live Features

Facebook Live comes with a collection of helpful features. Each is geared towards creating exciting experiences for its users. 

You can schedule a live stream using Live Producer. This allows creators to promote a future event a week in advance. You’re also able to interact with users via live chat (with comment moderation), and use native trimming features to edit previously live videos.

Facebook Live Monetization Features 

Facebook offers In-Stream Ads that must be active to monetize live videos. You must meet its eligibility requirements before you can create and monetize live streams. All revenue generated from live video ads is subject to Facebook’s revenue-sharing policy. 

Non-profits can use the donate feature if they qualify for the service.

Facebook Live Pricing 

Facebook Live is free to use. You will need to be an account holder to access the platform and broadcast live.

3. Instagram Live

live streaming platform instagram live

Instagram is more than just your favorite photo app. It captures 13% of all live stream viewers on social media today. This makes it a powerful video platform for creators and brands that want to grow.

The largest demographic group is men aged 18 to 24, and 75% of all users are within the same age range.

Statistically, that’s not all that Instagram has going on. According to the platform, 90% of all accounts follow a business account–proof that brands can dominate on this social network.

Reasons to use Instagram Live as a live streaming platform:

  • Access a large global user base
  • More people use the app than desktop site giving creators access to viewers on the go
  • Can monetize live video

Instagram Live Features

Instagram Live is a mobile device feature. With it, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a camera and share your message with the world. This includes inviting friends to join a live stream and controlling who can message you when live. 

Instagram offers a live stream chat moderation feature. It’s activated in the Comments Controls section of the app and will hide offensive comments. If you’d like, you can opt for manual control, but this may prove challenging while broadcasting live.

Instagram Live Monetization Features 

Instagram Live videos can be monetized using In-Stream Ads.  Ad revenue is subject to its partner monetization policy

The platform has been hard at work to make donating to live content creators possible. Through the purchase of badges from $0.99 to $4.99, viewers can support their favorite Instagrammer and be recognized in real-time.

Instagram Live Pricing 

Instagram Live is freely available to all users.

4. LinkedIn Live

Most would argue that LinkedIn was late to the live streaming party. But that hasn’t led to any shortage in live stream success for the professional networking platform. In February of 2020, the number of live streams grew by 158%

Being home to a global network of professionals, LinkedIn’s demographics range from 15 year-olds to 56+ year-olds, with the 25-to-34-year age group forming the largest advertising cohort.

Reasons to use LinkedIn Live as a live streaming platform:

  • LinkedIn Live videos get 7x more reactions and 24x more comments
  • You’re broadcasting to an audience of professionals who are hungry to learn
  • LinkedIn users have 2x more buying power than the average internet user
  • Access to analytics to improve audience engagement

LinkedIn Live Features

In addition to analytics for live streams, LinkedIn Live offers chat. Chat moderation tools allow you to block, report, or delete comments or viewers.

LinkedIn Live Monetization Features 

LinkedIn Live doesn’t currently offer monetization features.

LinkedIn Live Pricing 

This live streaming service is free to use but must be applied for before access is granted.

5. Periscope / Twitter Live

live streaming platform twitter live periscope

Twitter isn’t one of the largest social platforms on our list, but it comes with over 187 million monetizable daily active users. It’s also the choice of 13% of people who turn to a social media platform to broadcast a live stream, and that’s a big deal. 

According to advertising audience data, men between 25-34 years old are the largest age group, followed by women between the ages of 18-24 years old who account for 12%.

If you’re on the fence about using Twitter Live, try to look past its status as a microblogging platform. By integrating Periscope, Twitter’s entry into live video streaming makes its 187 million-strong audience is a goldmine for savvy broadcasters.

Reasons to use Twitter Live as their live streaming platform:

  • Access to a large daily active monetizable audience
  • Twitter’s invested in live and on-demand video partnerships– proof that it is leaning into live-streaming in a big way
  • Get live video analytics to improve your content
  • Can monetize live video

Periscope / Twitter Live Features

Twitter Live is Periscope’s Live broadcast platform. This means you get the same features afforded to Persocope users with a Twitter skin. 

You can broadcast from anywhere and on mobile or desktop (using encoders), and also share a link to your live stream to spread the word and grow your audience fast.

Live chat moderation is available and video creators can assign the responsibility to viewers. When an offensive comment is flagged, assigned moderators will be asked to class it as Abuse, Spam, Looks OK, or Not Sure. 

Periscope / Twitter Live Monetization Features 

Twitter offers users the opportunity to monetize live videos. To get started, you must meet Twitter’s eligibility requirements and all payments are subject to Twitter’s advertising policy.

Periscope / Twitter Live Pricing 

Twitter Live is free to access for users. 

6. TikTok Live

live streaming platform tiktok live

TikTok’s enjoyed meteoric growth. It is present in 154 countries and pulls an audience filled with younger viewers. For example, 46% of TikTok Live users are aged between 16 and 24, while 20% of TikTok Live users are students. 

Reasons to use TikTok Live as a live streaming platform:

  • Large global audience of 500 million users
  • Audience loves live video and is highly engaging
  • Access to live streaming analytics

TikTok Live Features

Impressive stats aside, TikTok also comes with features that make it attractive to its users. These include the ability to add filters, use a beautify feature, and accept gifts.

TikTok Live Monetization Features 

Monetization is available using donations or gifts subject, both of which are subject to TikTok’s virtual items policy

TikTok Live Pricing 

Freely accessible to registered users.

7. Snapchat Live

live streaming platform snapchat live

Snapchat isn’t often the first live streaming app people think of when it comes to social media, but it still holds its own. 

The platform draws 15% of social live viewers and has 249 million daily active users. And its user base is slightly different to similar mobile-first live-streaming platforms (think TikTok and Instagram). 30% of internet users aged 26–35 use Snapchat, followed by 18% aged between 36-45, and roughly 61% of Snapchat users are female and 38% are male.

Here are a few reasons to consider Snapchat Live as a live-streaming platform:

  • Large captive audience
  • Users are on mobile and watch content on the go

Snapchat Live Features

Snapchat’s iOS and Android apps give users filters to create more immersive experiences and also offer chat with moderation.

Snapchat Live Pricing 

Live streaming on Snapchat is free to all account holders.

8. Twitch

live streaming platform twitch

Twitch is undeniably one of the fastest-growing platforms to make our list. Twitch saw 175% growth in Q2 of 2020 compared to Q1 of 2019, and Just Chatting viewership continues to rise with more than 166 million hours watched in August 2020.

While Twitch’s demographics skew at 65% male to 35% female, there’s more to the numbers that make it a smart place to set up shop.  

Of the 65%/35% split, 73% of Twitch viewers fall into the under 35 age group. 41% are 16-24-year-olds, with around a third aged 25-34.

Reasons to use Twitch Live as a live video game streaming platform:

  • Global audience
  • More than gaming- shift to Just Chatting shows interest in other niches
  • Live stream analytics
  • Monetization 

Twitch Features

While chat with moderation is common, Twitch’s chat is likely the most popular given the use of famous emotes. Twitch streamers can also receive subs and gifts when live, and you can automate offers to your audience using bots.

Twitch Monetization Features 

Unlike most other platforms on our list, Twitch offers the most monetization options. These include:

  • Subscriptions (aka Subs) and badges
  • Gifted Subs
  • Emotes
  • Donations
  • Ads

While the idea of multiple monetization options may be enticing, you’ll need to become a partner to qualify.

Twitch Pricing 

Free to stream live for all account holders.

9. Facebook Gaming

live streaming platform facebook gaming

Facebook Gaming launched in June 2018 and has amassed 800 million users in under 2 years. Facebook Gaming’s explosive growth is a factor of large audiences and incredible streaming hour stats. 

For example, the platform saw a 210% increase in streaming hours between 2018 and 2019. 

And by December 2019, Facebook Gaming accounted for 8.5% of the online gaming market. 

While these are all impressive feats, Facebook Gaming didn’t stop. In April 2020, it launched a Facebook Gaming app to watch gamers stream live. 10 million+ downloads later on the Google Play store, and it’s clear that this is a platform worth paying attention to.

Reasons to use Facebook Live as your live streaming platform:

  • Large captive audience and growing fast
  • A dedicated mobile live streaming application for watching live streams means the audience can tune in on the go
  • Monetizable

Facebook Gaming Features

Facebook Gaming includes chat with moderation settings. It’s also a growth-focused platform, allowing you to promote your channel using paid ads and target people who don’t already like your page.

Facebook Gaming Monetization Features 

Qualified streamers can unlock “Stars” which can be exchanged for real money. The current exchange rate is one cent. Additionally, you can charge subscribers (or followers) at the rate of $4.99 a month.

Facebook Gaming Pricing 

Free to sign-up and start streaming for all account holders. 

10. YouTube Gaming

live streaming platform youtube gaming

YouTube Gaming went live in 2015. Since then, the platform has blossomed. Its growth includes amazing figures like an increase of 156M hours watched from Q2 to Q3 and 758 thousand concurrent viewers in Q3 2020

To date, YouTube Gaming owns 5.5% of the online gaming market landscape.

Reasons to use YouTube Gaming as a live streaming platform:

  • Large captive audience and growing fast
  • Leverage YouTube platform that people love
  • Access to insightful analytics

YouTube Gaming Features

YouTube Gaming offers all the same features you receive as a YouTuber. These include chat with moderation and access to Creator Studio where you’ll find analytics on all live videos. 

YouTube Gaming Monetization Features 

YouTube Gaming Live, like YouTube Live, offers the option to monetize content using ads. 

These include: 

  • Pre-roll ads that run before the live stream and can be seen on mobile and a computer.
  • Mid-roll ads show during the live stream and can be added manually during computer streams.
  • Display and overlay ads appear beside or over content and are only viewable on a computer. 

Streamers can also receive donations through superchat subject to eligibility and monetize recorded videos according to YouTube Gaming policy. They can also share exclusive live streams with their YouTube channel members (in beta).

YouTube Gaming Pricing 

Anyone with a YouTube account can stream for free. Income earned from advertisements is subject to YouTube’s revenue-sharing policy.

11. NulledMedia

All-in-one video monetization platform.  NulledMedia offers video-on-demand and live streaming functionality with powerful monetization features. 

A key differentiator is that NulledMedia empowers entrepreneurs by giving them more control. You control your content, the way you monetize it, and have access to customer information for smarter marketing. 

This all makes it easier to build a solid brand with unlimited earning potential for an affordable monthly fee.

And NulledMedia has seen some impressive results. Between January and August 2020, the platform saw the number of live stream events increase by 1468%.

NulledMedia is used by entrepreneurs in various industries. Take Signature TV. It’s an online makeup education site where makeup artists from across the globe share their unique styles to help you find yours. 

live streaming platform uscreen

SoulCycle offers online spinning classes to people across the globe. Their unique “cardio parties” help people develop more confidence through a deeper connection with their bodies, minds, and souls.

live streaming soul cycle

Here are just some reasons to use NulledMedia as your live streaming platform:

  • Monetization through subscriptions, rentals, and one-off video purchases
  • Website customization and landing page builder
  • OTT apps to share your content with users on devices they love
  • Community building and engagement tools including live chat
  • Strong built-in marketing and analytics features 
  • Go live with any RTMP-enabled live streaming software

NulledMedia Platform Features

Beyond the above, Usceen is built as a complete solution for entrepreneurs wanting to leverage video. Monetization options make it possible to offer audiences alternate ways to enjoy the content. The platform’s superior encoding provides lightning-fast video. Your live stream video is recorded automatically so you can later offer it on-demand to your viewers as a product.

NulledMedia also focuses on bridging the gap between non-tech-savvy and the need to get online fast. Using the website builder, you have access to a collection of ready-to-use website templates that don’t require coding knowledge to work with. 

Payment gateways also integrate seamlessly so you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get paid.

NulledMedia Monetization Features 

Subscription, rental and pay-per-view, bundles, and lifetime access. You can also offer free trials as part of an upsell sales strategy.

NulledMedia Pricing 

Pricing starts at $99/mo or $49/mo (paid annually). 

12. Wowza

live streaming platform wowza

Wowza offers a collection of live streaming services, including a streaming engine, live encoding solution and cloud streaming services. These solutions are designed for small businesses to large enterprises. Live videos can be embedded into applications and websites, allowing brands to configure the streaming experience and to interact with viewers in real-time.

Reasons to use Wowza as a live streaming platform:

  • Robust live streaming solutions including software and cloud-based hardware
  • Analytics
  • Developer tools for API integration
  • Can stream to OTT devices

Wowza Live Platform Features

Wowza helps brands do anything from stream live video for monitoring and surveillance to broadcasting for virtual gambling or streaming Esports. Its strengths lie in the solid infrastructure designed to take the complexities of large-scale live streaming demands and make it easy to meet. 

Wowza also comes with live-to-VOD video and a set of tools to help insert ads, caption, and monetize your videos.

Wowza Live Monetization Features 

Monetization allows for ad insertion and a free trial to paid content access using Wowza partner tools.

Wowza Live Pricing 

Pricing starts at $149 for one month of Wowza’s managed live streaming service.

13. Brightcove

live streaming platform brightcove

Brightcove is an enterprise-level live streaming video solution. They work with global brands like BBC World, Adobe, and even helped the Oscars protect movies for consideration using advanced security technology. 

Brightcove, like Wowza, offers a band of solutions that support live streaming. From cloud-based streaming to the hardware infrastructure that ensures it all comes together.

Reasons to use Brightcove as their live streaming platform:

  • Software and hardware stack to empower live video streaming
  • Monetization
  • Video marketing suite offers analytics,  and push to social
  • API integrations 

Brightcove Platform Features

As an enterprise solution, Brightcove packs more than the features highlighted above. By artfully bundling their video streaming service, brands have the chance to think about video in a more holistic way. 

For example, you don’t just broadcast a feed. You can create complete campaigns and deliver them through various channels, restrict IP addresses, and offer single sign-on.

Brightcove Monetization Features 

Monetization is available through advert insertions into videos.

Brightcove Pricing 

Contact Brightcove for consultation.

14. DaCast

live streaming platform dacast

DaCast provides a solution for all types of businesses

Like NulledMedia, users can stream to their live streaming websites and control the branding and access to their content. It also comes with monetization features.

Reasons to use DaCast as a streaming platform:

  • Embed live video anywhere and broadcast to OTT apps
  • Monetize live streams
  • Real-time analytics

DaCast Platform Features

DaCast’s live streaming features also include streaming video to all social networks and live countdowns. Streaming to all social networks helps brands draw larger audiences, while live countdowns build excitement for future live events. 

DaCast Monetization Features 

Monetization is available through pay-per-view, subscription, rental, or ad-based video. 

DaCast Pricing 

Pricing starts at $39/mo billed annually. Month-to-month fees are available on the Scale plan at $250/mo.

15. Vimeo Live

live streaming platform vimeo live

Vimeo’s been around for a while. They are famous for providing an online video hosting service that makes showcasing video on a site or across the web a breeze. 

Their solution is flexible enough to accommodate small and large businesses. Through a combination of plans, you can gain access to their platform, however, live streaming is only available on top-tier plans.

Reasons to use Vimeo Live as their live streaming platform:

  • Robust infrastructure
  • Can broadcast to social networks
  • Live video analytics 
  • Monetization features

Vimeo Live Features

Vimeo live offers a collection of features you’d expect from a live-streaming platform. These include live chat, the ability to stream to multiple destinations, graphics and polls, and a live Q&A tool. 

And if you’re looking for free video editing software, Vimeo offers Livestream Studio. It’s a downloadable app that enables switching between feeds, creating layered broadcast graphics, add pre-recorded video, and an audio mixer.

Vimeo Live Monetization Options 

Vimeo allows you to monetize videos in three ways. These include subscriptions, rentals, or pay-per-view. 

Vimeo Live Pricing 

Vimeo’s live-streaming solution is only available on the Premium and Enterprise plans. Pricing starts at $75/mo billed annually for Premium plan users and you’ll have to contact Vimeo for their Enterprise plan.

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How to Pick the Right Live Streaming Service in 6 Steps

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Wrapping this up!

And there you have it, folks! The 15 best live streaming platforms and apps out there that you can use to live broadcast to your viewers. Choose the platforms that will work best for you and your audience!

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