The 6 Best Live Streaming Software Solutions for 2023

Video has emerged as the leading engagement channel, and the evolution of live streaming software has made it easier than ever for businesses to produce real-time content. Before the last decade, the only things you could watch live were the news and sporting events. Now, you can live stream everything from a Rocket League match to your Sunday morning sermon.

Live streaming software solutions have been on the rise, competing to meet consumer demand. Even social media networks jumped in on the action to empower users to live stream straight from their platforms. While the rapid growth in live broadcasting software has led to industry breakthroughs, it's also made it harder than ever for businesses to find the right solution.

We're here to help you break through the noise and avoid paralysis by analysis. Below, we break down the 6 best live streaming software solutions on the market in 2023 and explore each's advantages and disadvantages. Before we get into the solution details, let's get on the same page about what live streaming software is and why you need it.

Why Your Business Needs to Invest in Live Video Streaming

Video killed the radio star, and live streaming looks likely to be video's heir to the content throne. While there will always be a need for video on demand content, live streaming satisfies an in-the-moment itch that consumers have to scratch.

Modern-day consumers don't want to watch Taylor Swift's concert a week later—they want to watch it live with everyone else. And sports fans that don't get to watch their team live desperately avoid screens and social media feeds until they can hide and watch in complete scoreline naïveté.

Here are a few reasons your business needs to invest in live video streaming in 2023:

What Is a Live Streaming Software Solution?

Live streaming software works with your hardware to transmit video content in real-time to your viewers. This technology encodes and transcodes the video content into a variety of formats to ensure top-notch performance across geographic locations, bandwidth limitations, devices, browsers, and applications.

You also use live streaming software to piece together video and audio from multiple sources. For example, you might need to mix different camera shots while combining various audio sources. With the right live streaming software solution, you can do this in real-time rather than editing it together in the studio later. 

Live broadcasting software use content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute your live stream to different locations without sacrificing performance. Multi-CDN approaches let you broadcast reliably to an international audience without your remote guests experiencing service disruptions, lag, or quality issues. 

Benefits of Live Broadcasting Software

Live broadcasting software comes loaded with all the features and integrations you need to create high-quality real-time content. Here's how the best solutions can help your business:

  • Improved Performance: Transcode your video content for optimal performance, regardless of your consumer's location, device, or bandwidth.

  • Rapid Conversion: Quickly repurpose live video recordings into video on demand.

  • Latency Control: Lower your latency for more real-time engagement (great for live chats and interaction) or increase it to reduce playback buffering.

  • APIs and SDKs: Integrate your video content into a website, iOS application, Android application, smart TV, or OTT app.

  • Monetization Options: Choose how you want to make money from your content, whether that's through AVOD, SVOD, TVOD, or a unique combination.

  • Live Stream Controls: Empower your users to jump in live, start from the beginning, rewind, or pause the stream.

  • Data Rights Management (DRM): Protect your content from prohibited consumption and distribution with DRM technology and best practices.

  • Support: Get professional technical support when you need help building your live streaming solutions.

Who Needs Live Streaming Software?

Anyone that wants to launch professional-quality live streams should invest in live streaming software, whether that’s for recurring events or 24/7 live broadcasts. Here are a few industries that would benefit from it the most:

  • Gamers

  • Sports

  • Education

  • Publishers

  • Film and TV

  • Fitness

  • Faith

The 6 Best Live Streaming Software Solutions for 2023

There's no one-size-fits-all live streaming software solution. Each has its own pros and cons that make it the better choice depending on your business, audience, and live streaming needs. Below, we'll explore the best options on the market and what makes them stand out.

1. JW Player

JW Player's complete video platform provides live streaming solutions as part of its comprehensive offerings. Admins can go live from anywhere in less than 30 seconds and repurpose the replays in under a minute. You have complete control of the video player setting, latency options, and monetization methods. Stream your videos to a web player, mobile app, OTT app, and social media platforms. Broadcasters can even use the platform to host 24/7 live channels. 

Pros:

  • 12-hour event streams and 24/7 live channels

  • Convert live streams instantly into on-demand video content

  • Integrate live streams into practically any app or digital location

  • Monetize your content with AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD

Cons:

  • The backend requires a bit of a learning curve

  • No podcasting solutions

2. OBS Studio

OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) Studio is a free-to-use open-source live streaming platform. It's not the most feature-rich streaming software, but it makes up for what it lacks with ease of use and the lowest price point. Users can broadcast using OBS Studio with support for multi-camera and audio sources, chroma-key (green screens), webcams, and capture cards.

Pros:

  • Free

  • Easy to use

  • Open-source community of plugins and support

Cons:

  • Users on TrustRadius complained about the limited interface customization

  • Some users on TrustRadius complained about a buggy backend and occasional software crashes

3. Wirecast

Wirecast enables businesses to live stream to mobile devices, websites, and OTT apps. You can add an unlimited number of video sources and audio inputs, allowing you to capture every angle at a sporting event or concert. It also features robust live video editing tools to quickly make changes on the fly and produce high-quality broadcasts. Wirecast also provides ISO recording and switchers to create the right experience in the moment and after the live stream. It's simple to feature a replay or add a scoreboard and clock to your stream, improving the experience for your live viewers.

Pros:

  • Robust live video editing tools

  • Instant replay

  • Integrates with Facebook and Twitter on-screen comments

Cons:

  • Users on G2 complain that the software is "glitchy" and "buggy"

  • Some users on G2 found Wirecast to have an overwhelming interface that's difficult to learn

  • A few users on G2 complained about the high pricing

4. Lightstream

Lightstream is an easy-to-use browser-based live streaming studio that empowers small businesses and streamers to create live productions with minimal experience and resources. You don't need a strong computer to run Lightstream, and all the encoding happens over Lighstream's cloud servers—meaning less demand on your devices. You can create unlimited projects and distribute your live stream to major platforms and custom Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) destinations.

Pros:

  • Demands less CPU power

  • Web browser streaming (no download required)

  • Smart, automatic encoding settings

Cons:

  • Some users on G2 complained about the limited features

  • A few users on G2 complained about sound buffering issues

5. XSplit Broadcaster

XSplit Broadcaster is on the high end of professional live streaming, offering advanced features, professional layouts, transitions, and granular control. Users will find plenty of add-ons and third-party plugins to customize video production to their liking, and XSplit has a reputation for providing top-notch technical support. However, beginners can get lost in the navigation and workflows, and the features might be overkill for some users.

Pros:

  • Robust add-ons and third-party plugins

  • Free version with limited features

  • Great technical support team

Cons:

  • A few users on Capterra complained about the limited customization options

  • Some users on Capterra found XSplit Broadcaster to be too demanding on their devices, causing them to slow down or crash

6. Streamlabs

Streamlabs is a free, open-source live streaming solution. It's more user-friendly than OBS and features a more modern user interface, but it doesn't have the same robust community of contributors that OBS Studio boasts (though that has a lot to do with Streamlabs' relatively young age). Streamlabs provides social widgets, video editing tools, audio filters, multi-video inputs, and more, but users will have to upgrade to a premium account to unlock everything that the software has to offer.

Pros:

  • Free, open-source software

  • Pre-built overlays, tools, and features

  • Clean, easy-to-learn user interface

Cons:

  • Some users on G2 said Streamlabs puts heavy demands on their CPUs

  • Users on G2 complained that some features are locked behind premium subscriptions

How to Choose the Best Streaming Software

While we've narrowed your list down to 6, you may still be struggling to choose the right live streaming software for your business. Rather than comparing stars on review sites or creating a head-to-head features list, use the following criteria to make your decision:

Quality

Video content needs to be first-class, and that includes live streams. Users won't stick around if they experience buffering or audio issues, which means you need to ensure your broadcast goes smoothly from start to finish.

Find a live streaming software that has a reputation for reliable, high-quality streaming. Ideally, it should be able to transcode to a variety of formats, but choose one that'll enable 4K live streaming. Once your live stream is over, your software should make it easy to quickly convert into on demand video files and organize in playlists.

Distribution

Decide where you'll want your live streams to live. Do you plan on hosting them on your website or an OTT app? Do you want to also do multi-streaming to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and other social networks? Some platforms are more limited in their capabilities, so find a software solution that'll meet your demands. 

Take a forward-thinking approach when you consider distribution—while you might not have your own mobile application now, is that something you want to build out in the next 3 to 5 years?

Monetization

Not every platform will give you the options you want to monetize your content. Some have monetization functionality built-in, while others will require third-party plugins and likely developer resources and know-how. Depending on your situation and technical expertise, you'll want to find the platform that allows you to monetize content on your own terms—whether that's AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD.

Pricing

Pricing is going to be one of your biggest concerns when it comes to choosing the right live streaming software solution. You'll find a handful of free, open-source platforms on the market, but these often don't provide the support or features you need for more high-end, professional live streams. 

However, they can sometimes be a good entry-level gateway to experiment with live streaming before you go all in on a more robust purpose-built product.

Live Stream at Scale With JW Player

Looking to take your live streaming content to the big stage? Trust JW Player to deliver at scale. We've built our all-in-one live streaming software solution to handle everything from local live events to gaming to 24/7 live broadcasting channels.

Here are a few of the standout features that make JW Player the most versatile, industry-leading choice:

  • Full Event DVR: Pause, rewind, rewatch, and repurpose content with ease.

  • Streaming Distribution: Stream live events to your mobile apps, OTT apps, social media platforms, and web players.

  • Ad Support: Monetize your live streams with built-in ad support and broadcast monetization options.

  • 24/7 Broadcasts: Deliver high-quality video experiences every second of every day to global audiences at scale.

  • DRM: Protect your content from theft and illegal distribution.

Ready to see our live streaming software in action? Start your free 30-day trial, or contact our team for a demo.