A common question that I get asked by people that are just dipping their toes into live streaming is “Shouldn’t I just use YouTube or Facebook for free?”
I’ll attempt to put my bias aside here and say that the answer is: It depends, but in many cases, no. The money you save might not be worth it.
I’m not here to tell you that there’s no merit in these platforms at all. There’s alot to like about these options. Free unlimited high-definition live streaming for the masses is nothing to snicker at. And everyone’s opinions on this topic will vary of-course, but I personally maintain that the best way to utilize social-streaming is as an auxiliary outlet. That is: send your stream to a dedicated service, and then simulcast to places like YouTube and Facebook for extra exposure.
For reasons which I’ll go into partially below, platforms like these do have their own sets of hazards associated with relying on them exclusively – especially for small or medium-sized streamers.
There’s really two scenarios in which I’d say it’s advisable to rely on social-platforms exclusively for your stream:
A. It’s a smaller personal / hobby / non-profit type stream that couldn’t be sustained on a paid platform, or isn’t 100% mission-critical.
B. You’re an enterprise customer and are guaranteed special treatment from these platforms
If you don’t fall into one of these two categories, it’s a gamble.
(and, the point of this article)
A few days ago I was spending some times in one of the broadcast-groups I tend to frequent on Facebook. I noticed a gentleman in quite a bind because YouTube suspended his account. He had no clue what the purpose for the suspension was, and YouTube wouldn’t tell him. He had a live show for a client the next day.
I can’t recall how it turned out, I’m hopeful that he was able to setup another stream and get things moved over in time to salvage the gig. Either way, one thing was clear here: YouTube held all the cards. They allegedly wouldn’t even tell him why his account was suspended, and none of his support requests were answered.
Now, YouTube is perfectly within their rights here, and I’m not here to demonize them, or anyone else. But this whole situation really did, for me, highlight a profound difference between these “social-streaming” platforms, and traditional paid platforms.
Can you imagine a scenario like this playing out with Vimeo or DaCast or AWS? I personally, cannot. It does seem common-sense that, barring some extreme circumstances, a customer would receive proper communication about the status of their account from a company from which they’d done business with.
But, to come full-circle from that edgy title: with some companies you’re a customer, and with some you’re just another user.
Which are you, and which will you be treated like when you need help?
CTO and Co-Founder, Mid-South Broadcasting