Best Streaming Software of 2021

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It’s time to invest in the best streaming software.

For the last few years, the market for live streaming has been growing at an incredible rate. By 2028, the space will be worth around $223.98 billion.

Every day, more digital consumers trade television and radio for streaming experiences to catch up on the events and news they care about. Perhaps more so since the pandemic, we’ve grown dependent on streaming as a source of information and entertainment.

If you want to take advantage of this growing landscape, you need a great idea, a compelling personality, and plenty of time. Most importantly, you need the best streaming software.

You can’t just switch on your gaming console or laptop and start streaming. Software to access platforms like Twitch isn’t pre-built into your computer. You need the right tools to get you started.

Fortunately, we’re here to share our top live streaming software for your needs.

Let’s jump straight in.

What Are the Best Streaming Platforms for 2021?

1. OneStream

Best streaming software overall

OneStream

The ultimate solution for live streaming, OneStream has everything a content creator might need. This easy-to-use software allows users to record and stream videos at the touch of a button. You can also easily distribute your streams to over 40 social media platforms.

Multi-cast your video to various social networks at once (in real-time), and schedule pre-recorded videos to appear on social media up to 60 days in advance. You can embed live streams into your website, add captions and subtitles for clarity, and even experiment with cloud storage integrations for things like Dropbox and Google Drive.

Features range from playlist streaming to custom RTMP streaming, and even a host of different upload options, with no software installations required. You can also set up live chat for interacting with your viewers.

  • Pros
  • Excellent live chat and team management engagement
  • No software installations required, and a range of upload options
  • Captions and subtitles for playlist clarity
  • Custom RTMP and embed options
  • Integrations with over 40 social media channels
  • Cons
  • Can take some getting used to for beginners
  • Can get expensive depending on how much you stream

Pricing

There’s a free version of OneStream for 5-minute streams to a single social account. Maximum file size is 5GB. Basic packages for up to 15 minutes of multi-cast streaming start at $10 per month. Unlimited streaming and one-hour recorded streams start at $39 on the Standard package. The Professional package for $89 per month gives you up to 8 hours of recording streams.

2. Wirecast

Best streaming software for professionals

wirecast homepage

Created by Telestream, Wirecast is a sensational streaming service designed to create experiences that feel the same as watching professional TV. You can tap into an ultra-flexible and intuitive user-interface to create the entertainment feed that suits you. Getting started is simple too, with plug-and-play functionality, and no complex encoding.

Wirecast comes with a variety of features to enhance the quality of your stream, including a production kit so you can adapt the look and sound of your content. Although this product is a little more expensive than most, it covers all kinds of streaming events, to any geography.

Features like ISO recording mean all your video inputs remain archived for later use. You get a multi-viewer environment where you can check each stream, and there’s a stock media library with access to videos, backgrounds, and music.

  • Pros
  • Excellent multi-channel audio management and encoding
  • Dozens of free content resources to enhance your video
  • QR Codes, playlists, chrome key, and more
  • Easily record videos in your choice of file format
  • Cons
  • Too expensive for many beginners
  • Requires high RAM space and Intel processors

Pricing

There are two versions of Wirecast available. Wirecast Studio costs $599 for enhanced streaming and live production. Wirecast Pro is $799 for advanced live production and streaming. You only pay this price once, rather than monthly (on a subscription).

3. uScreen

Best streaming software for monetization

UScreen homepage

An all-in-one platform for live streaming software and video monetization, UScreen provides creators with a valuable environment to build their brand and create a constant income. Uscreen ensures you can share your content online without having to host it yourself. You get to control how you distribute and monetize your content, however.

A major benefit of UScreen is how much insight it offers creators into their audience. Behind-the-scenes analytics and reports ensure you can get a better view of what your customers like and dislike about your business. The UScreen streaming solution is also very popular for people who want built-in marketing and promotional tools.

Solutions like live chat built into your streaming service ensure that you can strengthen your relationships with views. There’s a range of seamless integrations available with payment gateways. You can also access various ready-made templates, so it’s easier to get started straight away.

  • Pros
  • Excellent community building and engagement features
  • Easy access to a range of monetization options, including subscriptions
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use environment
  • Good analytics and customer insights
  • Cons
  • Some limitations in customization
  • Basic plan only has a handful of themes

Pricing

There’s a free trial to get you started, then subscriptions begin at around $49 per month, plus $0.50 per subscriber, per month. You can increase your functionality by accessing live streaming, chat, and countdowns on your service for a cost of $399 per month, with that extra subscriber fee included too. Enterprise options are available via quote.

4. XSplit Broadcaster

Best streaming software for console gameplay

XSplit Broadcaster

A live streaming application perfect for capturing live streaming gameplay, recordings, and more, XSplit broadcaster ensures you can start sharing your gaming skills with the world in seconds. Unlike some live streaming software, XSplit also features a range of valuable ways to build a relationship with your watchers through live chat, recent event alerts, and stat monitoring.

A projector mode means you can display multiple screens to devices that you connect to your PC’s graphics unit. XSplit simplifies the art of streaming by handling encoding requirements on your behalf and ensuring you have full control over your quality options.

NVIDIA NVENC options are available to customize your settings for the best performance and quality. There’s also an intuitive editing environment where you can easily add donation trains, follower alerts, tips spaces, and more.

  • Pros
  • Stream and record in 4K with no lag
  • Excellent connections to Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube chat
  • Custom transitions and branded stream components
  • Live illustrations and annotations
  • Cons
  • Runs only on Windows
  • May require additional plugins for full functionality

Pricing

There’s a free plan for beginners to test the software, but this is very limited. You will need to upgrade to the premium version starting at $2.50 per month for most functionality. Additional capabilities are available to access for an extra cost.

5. Streamlabs

Streamlabs

Best streaming software for live streamers

If you’re keen to get started with a free streaming software, Streamlabs OBS could be perfect for you. Based in the cloud, this service supports Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube, with hundreds of stream templates, overlays, and customizations, so you can bring your brand personality into an event. There are even custom “pause” screens.

One compelling feature of Streamlabs OBS is its own app store, where you can access a range of extra tools for things like multiple platform streaming, in-depth analytics, and streaming automation. You can also embed things like alert boxes, goals, and notifications within the Streamlabs website.

A comprehensive back-end environment gives users more control over the customizations they share on their website. Widget themes are available for different broadcasts, and there are themed visual layouts depending on the kind of content you want to produce.

  • Pros
  • Available as a free streaming software
  • Easy customization options with merge, split, and multi-screen
  • Monetization options for passive income creation
  • Video stabilization and editing features
  • Cons
  • Can be quite basic without the premium toolkit
  • Requires the use of various addons

Pricing

There’s a free version of StreamLabs available for those with limited budget. The open-source streaming solution does have available add-ons and extras you can access for a premium of $12 per month. This premium package comes with apps, themes, widgets, mobile streaming options, and more customization features.

6. OBS Studio

Best open-source streaming software

OBS Studio

Otherwise known as the Open Broadcaster Software, OBS is a compelling open-source recording and cross-platform streaming platform. If you’re looking to produce high-quality videos for an engaged audience, OBS Studio has a ton of value to offer in terms of audio editing, mixing, and capturing content in real-time.

Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, all you need to do is download the software, and you can begin setting up your streams in no time. There’s the option to switch between screens during a broadcast, access features like noise gate and noise suppression, and more.

The user interface might seem a little tougher for beginners without a lot of open platform experience, but the modular environment means you can rearrange functions to suit you. There’s also a studio mode for adjusting your scenes, and a hot-keys section for setting up easy access to features.

  • Pros
  • Studio mode and multi-view features for checking and tracking content
  • Powerful API integration with various plugins
  • High level of customization with modular UI
  • Compatible with all operating systems
  • Cons
  • Tricky if you haven’t used open-source before
  • Clunky environment in places

Pricing

As an open-source platform, OBS Studio is free to use.

7. Twitch Studio

Best video streaming software for Twitch

Twitch Studio

Another free streaming software solution, Twitch Studio is an app specifically designed for Twitch users. Though relatively simplistic compared to some alternatives, Twitch is perfect for those who already love the idea of showcasing their content on Twitch.

There’s a streamlined setup experience, so you can start streaming your content quickly, and there’s support for beginners in the form of things like step-by-step onboarding, hardware detection, and recommended settings for viewer friendliness. Starter layouts are available to help you jump in, and there’s support for various audio sources too.

Twitch Studio users can customize their streams however they choose, connect mixing content from iPhone and iPad devices, and integrate with activity feeds, live chat and more. There’s also a handy desktop audio capture function too.

  • Pros
  • Convenient starting experience for beginners
  • Activity feeds and chat content to manage engagement
  • Lots of guidance for beginners, including FAQs and onboarding
  • Adjust the sound of your audio however you choose
  • Cons
  • Exclusively for Twitch streaming
  • Can be simplistic for some professionals

Pricing

All you need is a streaming account with Twitch to use Twitch streaming; there’s no monthly or one-off payment outside of this to worry about. You might need to pay extra if you want to use any specialist plugins, however.

8. Nvidia ShadowPlay

Best streaming software for Nvidia computers

Nvidia Shadowplay

Designed by one of the best-known graphics card producers in the world, Nvidia ShadowPlay is a powerful streaming service which allows users to record and display all kinds of videos, screenshots, and gameplay. As long as you have a Nvidia card in your computer, it’s easy to start accessing the ShadowPlay functionality. You simply download the software, and use the functionality to instantly replace, record, and interact with your content in seconds.

Nvidia can either save your content to your hard drive or send it straight to streaming platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Although it’s a little confusing to get used to this technology at first, once you get the hang of it, it’s as simple as using the “share button” to access the UI whenever you want to start streaming. There are also hotkeys to help save you time during streams.

Nvidia’s intelligent functionality automatically captures and highlights key moments during your gameplay just in case you forget to record them. There’s also the option to record videos and screenshots in up to 8k quality. You can make your own GIFs and upload them to Imgur, Facebook, AND Google in the same platform too.

  • Pros
  • Excellent streaming with up to 8k quality
  • GIF, screenshot, and video support for a range of channels
  • Easy one-click functionality for various features
  • Editing options to tweak your recordings
  • Cons
  • Missing some advanced editing features
  • Can be difficult to get used to at first

Pricing

As long as you have a Nvidia graphics card, you can use the Nvidia ShadowPlay software for free. You just download the functionality as part of the Nvidia GeForce Experience software.

9. VMix

Best for video and streaming adjustments

VMix

A well-known name in the video streaming environment, vMix is a leading visual mixing service that supports all kinds of live streaming through video and audio. You can create and share high-quality videos in 4K and record your live streams for later use too. The excellent output means that it’s easy to create professional-looking content quickly.

One of the things that makes vMix particularly impressive is access to a wide range of movie formats, including MOV, and AVI. You can use up to 13 different transition effects for free, and there’s 3D acceleration too. Animated titles, graphics, and sticks further support the personalization options on your stream, and you can add guests if you like too.

vMix is a popular choice for companies and creators in search of live concert event tools and streaming services. There are pre-built templates to get you started, easy social media integrations, live chat, and even slow-motion replays.

  • Pros
  • Wide range of customization and effect options
  • Social and community features including live chat
  • Great for 4K recording output
  • Plenty of file types to choose from
  • Cons
  • Can be quite costly if you want all the premium features
  • Not smartphone compatible

Pricing

There are a variety of packages available from vMix, starting with the “basic” free version, which gives a handful of simple features. The premium packages start at $60 and go all the way to $120 for the Pro solution with access to things like guest accounts and custom playback options. This is a service with a one-off payment structure, so you don’t subscribe to monthly costs.

What is Streaming Software?

Live streaming software is an increasingly popular investment for companies, individuals, and creators who want to share live-style video content with their audience. Not to be confused with a live streaming platform or host, live streaming software is the program you use to collect and store your live content. There’s a little bit of a misnomer here, as you’re not actually sending live content to your audience from your streaming software.

Most live streaming software options will give you the option to edit various parts of your videos before you reach your user. This includes things like encoding your video and audio into a format that’s suitable for streaming and adding various effects. You can mix various camera and audio sources to create a more professional broadcast too.

The best live streaming software will give you full control over the “live” content you share on popular hosting platforms like Twitch and YouTube. You can align views from multiple cameras, tie audio sources together, add graphics on the fly, and even implement things like live-chat functionality. Streaming tools can even deliver your content to multiple platforms at once.

What Makes the Best Streaming Software?

The best streaming software for you will depend on what you want to accomplish with your new tool. There are tons of options out there, many offering unique benefits, like access to a wider range of social media platforms, or support for adjustments and transitions.

The great news for people who feel a little uncertain about their streaming options, is that you can often try multiple free trials with leading tools before you get started. A few factors you might want to look out for include:

Community features

You’ll want to build a connection with your community when live streaming. This means getting involved with the conversation through things like live alerts, and live-chat functionality. Look for tools that also allow you to gauge the sentiment of your viewers as they watch your content.

Editing functionality

The best live streaming tools will allow you to edit components of your stream before they reach your audience. It’s easy to make last-minute edits and create new parts of a clip to help it make more sense for your audience. You might even add things like live captions for clarity.

Theme and template options

Themes and templates make it much easier to start recording and sharing your content, because you don’t have to design an environment from scratch. Most of these solutions will also come with access to various customization features, so you can add your own branding to welcome and “please wait” screens.

API and SDK access

If you’ve got a little bit of developer knowledge, API access will give you more control over your streaming opportunities. Through APIs and SDKs, you can integrate your live stream into various applications and digital media environments easily.

Real-time analytics

The more you can learn about your audience in real-time, the easier it is to adapt the stream to their needs. Look for a service that can track important metrics like new subscribers, number of viewers, engagement, and demographics, so you can better understand your target audience and what they want from you.

Integrations with social media

Extensive integrations with leading social media platforms will ensure you can stream on all the most important channels at once, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch.

FAQ – Streaming Software

Choosing the Best Streaming Software

As streaming grows increasingly popular, the number of amazing streaming options available today is growing. We’ve mentioned just a handful of products here for beginners to consider, ranging from OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS if you’re in need of an open-source software, to more specific solutions, like Wirecast, and Twitch Studio.

For the best free experience, try OBS Studio – it’s quick and easy to download and get started. If you need something more advanced, we would recommend Wirecast for professionals.

Remember, take the time to think about what you really need from a streaming software before you invest. If possible, it’s always worth trying a free version of the service before you spend anything.

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