If you want to start live streaming, YouTube is one of the best places to get started. You already know how it works and your target viewers most likely do too. You can start simply by streaming from YouTube itself; it’s very intuitive.

But when your channel is growing and you want more features, there are plenty of third-party software that can help you. In this guide, we’ll show you the various streaming software options you have. By the end of the article, you’ll be able to narrow down your options in your search for the best encoder for YouTube.

Why You May Need a Streaming Software for YouTube

YouTube Live is easy. Just click your mouse or tap your screen and you’re live. For complete beginners, that’s great. But eventually, you’ll start needing extra features. The solution is to use an encoder.

You can use various third-party live stream software for YouTube for that. These allow you to do advanced tasks that the native YouTube Live app can’t do. For example, you can share your screen, broadcast your gameplay, or manage multiple microphones and cameras. They also make it easy to use external video and audio hardware. But the two most important uses include encoding and mixing/production.


Many cameras record videos in formats that aren’t compatible or optimized for being streamed over the Internet. The streaming software’s job is to convert your video so that it is suitable for that. It can also transcode or create replicas of your video in different qualities and sizes, so you can share it on different platforms and devices simultaneously.

Mixing and production

The second function of streaming software is live video mixing and editing. It lets you select and display multiple sources during your live.

These encoders let you do many tasks as fast as possible while you’re live, which is vital to your broadcast’s success. You can liken it to the tools large TV networks use when editing live shows on the fly.

You can use your streaming software to:

  • Switch between multiple cameras
  • Stream between different sources
  • Add titles and overlay graphics on top of the video
  • Insert a pre-recorded video during a live broadcast
  • Add green screen effects on your live feed

You can still go live even without an encoder but at a limited capacity. For example, you’ll only be able to use a single camera without cuts, images, overlays, titles, and other finishes, making your video look bare-bones and amateurish. Fortunately, there are many free live streaming software for YouTube you can use.

Top YouTube Streaming Software: Find the Best One for You

There are so many options available that it can be overwhelming to choose one. We’ve listed only the best of the best streaming software and why we think they will work for you.

Here’s our top three most recommended YouTube broadcast software.

1. OBS Studio

OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) Studio is an open-source screen recording and video/audio streaming software available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It’s at the top of our list of live streaming app for YouTube because it has advanced features for FREE. It’s also available on different streaming platforms.

We also like that it lets you use multiple sources at the same time. For example, you can talk on a webcam and record your game screen simultaneously. You can also switch between scenes, such as when you need to switch to a static image in case of a technical error.

Beginners and even professionals benefit greatly from using OBS. But since it’s open-source, dedicated support is non-existent. There’s a huge community of OBS users you can turn to for help, but you’ll still have to figure out the solution to a problem by yourself.

2. Streamlabs OBS

Streamlabs OBS offers everything OBS does and more. It’s also more user-friendly than OBS, so it’s better for beginners.

SLOBS has a wide range of features. It has custom notifications, overlays, and a real-time troubleshooter. It also has a huge collection of free themes and built-in YouTube chat for engaging your viewers.

If you subscribe to Prime, you get monetization tools that let you earn money from your streams, such as the tip page. You also get access to all Streamlabs apps, including apps that help you find sponsors and interact with your audience in different ways.

We like SLOBS because it’s powerful enough to give you professional-looking videos but still easy to use. The only thing we didn’t like is it tends to eat up resources, which can cause performance problems from time to time.

3. Wirecast

Wirecast comes in two versions: Studio and Pro. Wirecast Studio costs $599 while Wirecast Pro is $799. For the additional charge, you get extra features and Wirecast premium support.

Check out this comparison chart to see the difference between the two. You also can try it out for free to see if it’s worth shelling out some money for.

Wirecast has a user-friendly interface. Its built-in presets make it easy for you to start your live stream. Some of the things we like about it include:

  • Hundreds of built-in titles and graphics
  • Record and stream at the same time
  • Restream and live captions, making your videos accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Capture different IP sources (NDI, web capture, and desktop)
  • Go live on multiple streaming platforms at the same time.

Wirecast is a bit on the pricey side. But if you have the budget, we highly recommend it. It’s a live streaming powerhouse that makes it easier for you to succeed on YouTube.


When choosing live streaming software, consider your needs, budget, and technical know-how. If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend OBS or SLOBS because they have all the advanced features you need. Plus, it’s free. Once you’ve become familiar with live streaming and have the budget for it, you can upgrade to pro software, such as Wirecast, to make your videos look more professional.