Streamed content is taking on traditional media (think network and cable TV) with great success because they give viewers more power of choice. On Netflix, for example, people pick what they want to watch. No schedules, commercials, or waiting until the weekend for premiers. They can start and stop whenever they want and pick up where they left off any time.
Live-streamed media on platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live also benefit from this shift in content delivery choice. Most live streams are one-person operations and offer a more casual approach to broadcasting. These streamers use consumer-grade equipment and either free or paid streaming software.
Common livestream programs, such as Streamlabs OBS, do the job because they’re straightforward. Out of the box, they’ll get a simple stream going within minutes. But if you’re part of a larger production team with a more advanced workflow, you need something with more punch.
In this list, we’ve put together our recommendations for the best live stream studio software for professionals. Let’s begin, shall we?
Best Live Stream Studio Software for Professionals
Operating System: Windows, macOS
Price: from $75/month
Image credit: Livestream Studio
Livestream Studio launched in 2007. Back then, it went by “Mogulus”. It was rebranded to “Livestream” the following year. Then in 2017, Vimeo acquired Livestream. Now on its sixth version, Livestream Studio is one of the most sought-after professional streaming software today.
Vimeo Livestream Studio is an all-in-one live production control program. Apart from the usual graphical overlays, this hefty app allows audience voice and text chat and live polls. It also connects with local and external data sources. These include social networks, Microsoft Office, and Google Spreadsheets.
With this production software, you can stream up to 4k on platforms that support the resolution. You can crop and split one camera feed into multiple inputs, and switch among them in real time. It also uses hardware acceleration. So, you can pass encoding tasks onto your dedicated graphics card, giving your CPU some breathing room.
Livestream Studio helps you give videos a uniform look through its built-in color correction feature. Tweak the color settings and apply the changes to all your feeds for consistency. It also comes pre-installed with a digital audio mixer.
The program is heavy on remote functionalities. Through the Remote Guest feature, guests join your stream through Google Chrome. They don’t have to have third-party apps like Skype or Zoom installed. All they need is a webcam and a microphone. Through the browser interface, guests can interact with other participants by voice and text chat. Other features available to stream guests include screen sharing.
Just like with Remote Guest, you can also delegate tasks to off-site team members through Chrome via “WebControl”. This gives team members access to graphics and stream management functionalities. They can even perform their duties on Android devices.
Livestream doesn’t exempt remote hardware management. From the studio, you can control PTZ-enabled cameras. Your video capture device must support VIZCA or NDI PTZ protocols, though.
All these high-tech features may seem overwhelming to first-time users. That’s why Livestream Studio has a simple mode, which eases newbies into the program.
So far, Vimeo’s Livestream Studio has three subscription tiers: Premium, Enterprise, and OTT (over-the-top). OTT is the system of technologies that make streaming to devices like smart TVs, mobile apps, and gaming consoles possible. This means that, with Livestream Studio, your organization can broadcast content the same way Hulu or Disney+ does.
Notable Livestream Studio users include the Daytime Emmys, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. Oh, and Livestream also had a hand in streaming Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Talk about high profile.
Operating System: Windows, macOS
Price: $599 (Studio); $799 (Pro)
Image credit: Telestream
Telestream offers a lot of digital media processing products, one of which is Wirecast. This live stream studio software is constantly on our radar because it gives streams TV-level quality while staying user-friendly.
Just like Livestream Studio, Wirecast has a pre-broadcast preview display. You get two displays: preview and live. You can revise layouts and overlays mid-stream, and viewers won’t see the changes until you apply them.
Scenes are laid out in filmstrip format instead of a list of text. Each scene and layer are represented by thumbnails, which reflect the applied edits accurately. As far as source monitoring goes, Wirecast’s multi-viewer feature makes it easier for you. Multi-viewer puts as many as 17 video source feeds on a grid.
Wirecast’s built-in graphics inventory includes animated lower-thirds, title cards, and transitions. Supplement your broadcast with the service’s extensive library of stock media. You get access to more than 500,000 unique images, video clips, music, and more. And they’re all royalty-free, so there’s no worrying about getting copyright-claimed.
The software also has an on-board conferencing client called Wirecast Rendezvous. The Pro package allows up to seven remote guests. You invite them to join through a link and they jump right in via browser on desktop or even on mobile.
Lead generation and engagement tools include a QR code generator, social media integration, and live polls. If you’re producing sports events, the replay, clock, and scoreboard features will keep viewers updated on the action. You can also create playlists of pre-recorded videos for B-rolls or highlights.
Wirecast supports external control peripherals like the Elgato Stream Deck. They have a custom USB control surface by X-keys. You can bind shortcuts, like scene switching, to these controllers for a more efficient workflow.
The service provides e-mail and phone support. It’s also constantly rolling out updates and new plugins.
Operating System: Windows
Price: from $50/month
Image credit: vMix
vMix is a live streaming production software that optimizes encoding processes to such efficient levels that you won’t need a high-end PC setup for broadcast-quality live streams. It’s all thanks to its resource-effective 3D and hardware acceleration features.
The program offers hundreds of overlay and ticker templates. On top of that, there’s an onboard graphics creation tool for your custom visuals. It supports both static and animated graphics. The app accepts imported layers from Photoshop.
Use the high-quality chroma key processor with built-in virtual sets or backgrounds. You can also create your own 3D virtual set in full HD. News presentations will look even better with vMix’s camera position presets and full-motion zoom. You can also crop and pan through your inputs on the fly.
vMix has full NDI (Network Device Interface) capabilities. The feature allows streaming of all broadcast elements across a local area connection. vMix handles up to a thousand inputs through LAN and direct connections. Capture screen feeds from both PC and Mac computers on your local network complete with audio.
The studio addresses unreliable internet concerns through SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) protocols. This enables customized point-to-point connections for a more stable broadcast. Latency and synchronization issues are reduced with this functionality.
Managing the production studio via external interfaces, like Elgato and X-keys, is also possible. If you’re not keen on shelling out for peripherals, vMix allows remote control through mobile devices. The application’s Web Controller turns most touch screen devices into a portable dashboard.
vMix offers both lifetime licenses and a monthly subscription package. The Pro license, the highest tier, will set you back at around $1200. Updates are free for the first 12 months with lifetime purchases. You’ll pay a nominal upgrade fee for newer versions of vMix after that. The $50 monthly subscription has all the features of a Pro license.
Operating System: Windows, macOS
XSplit Broadcaster’s chroma key threshold is sensitive enough even for low-end cameras. Video masking allows the changing of camera shapes beyond the usual square or rectangle. It may seem like a gimmicky flair. But diversifying visuals, including camera shapes, improves a live stream’s perceived value.
Many of Broadcaster’s features focus on audience engagement. Chat plugins support major streaming platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch. Apps for various purposes are also available. You have widgets for presentations, alerts, input visualizers, etc.
Add or remove these extensions as per your broadcasts’ needs. Save profiles for specific streaming builds, and switch among them with ease. If you’re pressed for time, try out their presets for gaming, newscast, and more.
Broadcaster’s customization goes deeper than dragging and dropping overlays and transitions. If you’re the savvy type, you can add custom scripts and Macros. Create your own snippets, and bump up your stream’s interactive mojo.
The projector mode lets you monitor individual scenes through multiple monitors connected to your computer. The benefit of this feature is you see each scene on much larger screens. Running out of video capture devices? Connect: Webcam has you covered. Just download and install it on your mobile device, and it becomes another camera! It’s available for free on both Android and Apple devices. Upgrade to the paid version to remove the watermark.
XSplit Broadcaster was Windows-only but just recently shipped out the macOS version. It’s becoming a favored livestream studio for Mac due to its intuitive interface and varied selection of add-ons.
Out of all the production apps on this list, Broadcaster may be the most “casual”. XSplit also has the lighter VCam, which gears toward more trendy features. Reviewers and most users see Broadcaster as VCam’s gym-going older brother.
But it shouldn’t take away from the fact that Broadcaster is a pro-level streaming software. Its technical capabilities may not be as advanced as with the others here. But it’s hearty enough for broadcasting live events and not just gaming live streams.
Broadcaster’s price points are rather reasonable for what you get. XSplit even bundled Broadcaster, VCam, and the premium version of Connect together in one neat, affordable package.
Free vs Paid
We champion free and wallet-friendly live streaming software. OBS Studio is the reigning monarch among the many broadcast program options available. It has a lot of features and it’s 100% free.
However, there’s a reason why major organizations use the premium products like the ones we recommend here. Consumer-grade software just doesn’t have the in-depth functionalities and support you get from bonafide professional live-stream apps. You get what you pay for. Apart from the software’s features, you get reliability and help from people who know what they’re doing.
Moving up to the pros is not just an investment of money. It also calls for time and effort for learning the ropes of a new program. No one will fault you or your team for being cautious of upgrading. Take your time weighing the pros and cons. And use what you have right now for as long as you need. The decision to make the change often presents itself.