The world of video is changing. We’re transitioning from an era of static video content to interactive live streaming.
As attention spans get shorter, fans want engaging content with interactive elements.
Streaming software is the solution. These tools help you stream live video, chat with your fans, embed interactive content, collect payments, and more.
But there are a lot of options on the market.
In this ultimate guide, I ranked and reviewed the best streaming software so you don’t have to test them all out yourself. These reviews are based on streaming capabilities, video quality, integrations, video editing capabilities, pricing, support, and more.
Let’s get started.
What is the Best Streaming Software?
Here’s my list for the best streaming software for YouTube and Twitch.
Best For Live Streaming & Recording Console Gameplay ($2.50 per month).
XSplit is a live streaming application used for capturing gameplay for live streaming or recording. It helps you start your live stream or recording within a few seconds.
You also get an in-game stream control HUD that helps you:
- Interact with the chat
- Stop and start broadcast
- Keep an eye on recent events
- Monitor stats to increase the engagement
There’s also one Projector Mode that enables you to display multiple scenes to devices connected to your computer’s GPU.
XSplit also handles all your required encoding settings. What’s more, it guides you to make the right setup and stream in the best possible quality of up to 4k60fps. And the best part is that you can handle all the controls of the stream from a single screen.
It also provides a high-end sub-product called XSplit Gamecaster for free and easy streaming for gamers.
- Scene Preview Editor – Edit video scenes before live broadcasting them.
- NVIDIA NVENC – Use NVENC options to customize your settings for optimal quality and performance.
- Intuitive Editor – Easily add subscriber goals, donation trains, events lists, followers alerts, tips cups, etc. to make your live stream stand out.
- You can stream and record in 4k at 60fps.
- Broadcast simultaneously to multiple streaming devices.
- XSplit supports Twitch Chat, Facebook Chat, and YouTube Chat Widgets.
- Add custom stinger transitions or use multiple preloaded transition styles.
- Use Whiteboard and Stream Annotations for illustrations and live analysis.
- Use the live status display to gauge the number of subscribers, new followers, bits, super chats, cheers, and more.
The pro version starts at $2.50 per month. There’s also a free plan for limited features.
2. Streamlabs OBS.
Best for live streamers and businesses looking for an open-source solution (Free).
Streamlabs OBS is a cloud-based streaming platform for Twitch, YouTube, & Facebook. It offers hundreds of stream overlays, templates, and assets to customize your live streams professionally. For instance, you can use “Be Right Back” and “Starting Soon” screens for your live stream event.
It also comes with an app store that offers 46 apps to help you with:
- Achieve more automation
- Powerful and in-depth analytics
- Multiple ways of interactions with viewers
- Stream to multiple platforms simultaneously
- And more
You can also easily embed multiple elements, including your goals, alert box, and others directly from the Streamlabs website. It also offers noise gain and suppression features to easily weed out unwanted/ background noise from the live stream.
- Streamlabs Dashboard – You can use the dashboard to make adjustments through a few clicks to the alert box. You can manage all the elements without having to open the browser.
- Widget Themes – Choose specific widgets for different broadcasts. Also, each theme’s settings get saved separately to help you easily switch from one theme to another.
- Themed Visual Layouts – It provides themes for specific games and genres. Themes also help you deliver a more immersive experience through effects, animations, and graphics.
- Available for free.
- Instantly live stream or record through “Go Live” and “Record” buttons.
- Easily split, merge, or stream with multi-screen.
- It provides powerful monetization tools to help you earn passive income.
- You can use speed adjustment and video stabilization to control the quality of your broadcast.
- Monitor the performance of your live streams through key performance metrics like viewer count and new subscribers.
Streamlabs OBS is a free and open-source streaming solution. However, it provides a premium toolkit for professionals for $12 per month (billed annually).
Premium features include free apps, professionally designed themes & widgets, mobile streaming, custom domain, and more.
3. OBS Studio.
Best for startups and freelancers (Free).
(Open Broadcaster Software) OBS Studio is another open-source, cross-platform streaming and recording platform. It helps you execute high-quality video or audio editing, capturing, and mixing in real-time.
You can create highly customized scenes through multiple sources, including text, window captures, images, webcams, capture cards, and browser windows.
The open-source software also lets you switch between an unlimited number of scenes during the broadcast while using custom transitions. On top of that, you can use its capable audio mixer that comes with pre-source filters like noise suppression, noise gate, and gain. It also offers VST plugin support to ensure you have total control over your audio.
- Modular ‘Dock’ UI – Easily rearrange the layout to align with your branding requirements. You can even pop out all the individual Dock windows for greater customization.
- Hotkeys – Set up hotkeys for almost every action like starting/stopping streams or recordings, switching between scenes, muting audio sources, etc.
- Studio Mode – Instantly preview your scenes and sources for last-minute adjustments. You can even create a new scene right before making your content live.
- Use the ‘Multiview’ feature to monitor 8 different scenes simultaneously. You can even transition or give cues to them through a single or double click.
- It offers a powerful API for integration with numerous plugins and scripts. It also ensures high customization and functionality.
- Use customizable transitions to switch between different scenes swiftly. You can also embed your stinger video.
- It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- You get a resource section to explore an unlimited number of additional features.
- Automatically changes the streaming Video Bitrate based on your upload speed.
OBS Studio is a free streaming platform.
4. Twitch Studio.
Best for gamers who want to live stream on Twitch (Free).
Twitch Studio is a free streaming app that lets you live stream directly on Twitch. Twitch developed it to help its fans live stream video games from the same platform.
It offers a streamlined setup to help you broadcast live streams even if you’re using complex setups. Plus, you get access to step-by-step onboarding, automatic hardware detection, and recommended settings to make your streams look professional with minimal efforts.
You can also personalize your streams to meet your personal branding requirements.
Twitch Studio lets you personalize everything you want, including:
- Starter layouts
- Support for multiple audio sources
- And more
Additionally, you can use its built-in ‘desktop audio capture’ feature to share the audio from your computer to the stream.
- Extensive Personalization – You can customize your video stream from all aspects to reflect your business or personality.
- Content Mixing – Easily connect your iPhone or iPad to mix up your content and share the screen instantly to your live feed.
- Extensive Integration – Twitch provides built-in activity feeds, chat, alerts, and more. This saves you from the hassle of installing an extra plugin.
- It offers multiple stream layouts.
- Dedicated activity feeds and chat-widgets to gauge reactions and reply to comments on your live stream.
- You can adjust the sound of your mic.
- It provides a large list of FAQs to help you figure out any issue on your own.
- It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows.
Twitch Studio is a free streaming software by Twitch.
Best for a big-budget live production ($60 / one-time payment).
vMix is a vision mixing software that lets you live stream videos, audio, cameras, and more. It helps you execute high-quality live HD video mixing and broadcast live videos directly to the internet.
You can also switch, record, and LIVE stream videos in SD, Full HD, and 4K. The good news is you can do it using multiple sources like cameras, DVDs, images, video files, Powerpoint, and more.
Here’s a list of some of the prominent features:
- It supports all formats, including AVI, MP4, H264, MPEG-2, WMV, MOV, and MXF.
- You can use vMix for simultaneous recording, streaming, and output.
- It provides 13 attractive transition effects, including Cut, Fade, Zoom, Wipe, Slide, Fly, CrossZoom, FlyRotate, Cube, CubeZoom, etc.
- vMix comes with full 3D acceleration, allowing you to create professional HD videos even on a simple PC.
- You get over 100 in-built animated titles, stickers, and other graphics.
- It allows you to add up to 8 remote guests to your live show.
- And more
What’s more, it assists you with the hardware to help you produce a big-budget live concert production or sporting events. You can also use vMix ‘Reference Systems’ to instantly build a vMix PC with required specifications cost-efficiently.
- vMix Social – Easily integrate YouTube Live, Twitch, Facebook, and Twitter content into your live stream production.
- Live Chat – View and reply to comments on your live stream from social media accounts like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.
- vMix Replay – It enables you to show instant replays in HD slow motion using up to 4 cameras set up. You can also display the replay in 2 angles simultaneously to increase engagement.
- Capture events like goals through a single click. You can also add tags to events for better segregation.
- Create highlight reels of the event instantly to play between intervals.
- Leverage ‘Automatic Mix Minus’ function to eliminate echo from the audio.
- Enhance your production with multiple virtual sets, overlay channels, and templates.
- Start your live stream with just a webcam and browser.
- It offers a fully functional 60-days free trial.
vMix provides five editions:
- Basic: Free
- Basic HD: $60
- HD: $350
- 4K: $700
- Pro: $1200
All editions come at a one-time payment. All the versions include free version updates for one year. You also get a 60-days to free trial to ensure that the software is fully compatible with your system.
Best live streaming software for big media houses (Starting at $599).
Wirecast is a live video streaming production platform developed by Telestream. It helps you create TV-like live stream production and on-demand broadcasts for the web.
You can leverage its flexible and intuitive UI to customize your live feed easily. All you have to do is just plug in your mic and camera. It automatically handles all the encoding to deliver your live stream to any geography at scale.
It covers every type of live stream event, including live sports, worship services, television, radio & news broadcasts, etc.
To help you capture your video content on the go, Wirecast also offers a free iOS camera app. You can stream to more than one destination, including ANY RTMP destination. It also lets you embed live captions to make your videos more accessible for differently-abled viewers.
- ISO Recording – It archives all the live video inputs without any modification. These video clips are separate from your composite program recording.
- Multiviewer – Send single sources to up to 17 source grids to easily monitor and get a quick look at each source.
- Stock Media Library – It offers free access to more than 500,000 media assets, including videos, music, backgrounds, lower thirds, etc.
- It provides multi-channel audio ingestion, and support for WASAPI, ASIO, and CoreAudio compatible devices.
- Use features like replay, clocks, scoreboards, and timers for your live sporting events.
- Get access to over 100 built-in titles and graphics.
- Use QR Codes, Chroma Key, and Playlists to present your live stream professionally.
- Easily record videos in MP4 or MOV files.
- Efficiently mix up to 8 audio tracks. You can also add FX and processing.
Wirecast provides two versions:
- Wirecast Studio: $599 for enhanced live production and streaming
- Wirecast Pro: $799 for advanced live production and streaming
Wirecast is one of the most expensive live streaming tools. Hence, it’s more suitable for big production houses than small businesses.
Best for users looking for a cloud-based solution ($99 per month).
Lightstream is a web-based live streaming studio that helps you create professional and impactful live streams within minutes.
It comes equipped with a drag-and-drop editor that provides unlimited creative controls, projects, and scenes. It also offers extensive third-party integration for motion graphics, on-stream alerts, and social media displays to help you drive engagement.
You can even invite guests to your live stream event. You can host a range of events like panel discussions, interviews, podcasts, product launches, and more. And even your guests can share their screens with their own audience, helping you increase your outreach.
It comes with a cloud-based architecture, which means that you don’t need to download the software. You can open your browser to design and produce your live stream easily.
Lightstream provides three sub-products:
- Lightstream Studio – It lets you live stream right from your browser. You can also personalize your live stream and invite multiple guests.
- Lightstream Arsenal – Monitor all the essential analytics to grow your channel.
- Lightstream Cloud – A cloud-native live streaming production API.
- Zero Setup – All you need is an internet connection and computer. You don’t need expensive hardware and go through a cumbersome download process to use Lightstream.
- Remote Control – Leverage your smartphone to start and stop your stream. You can also use it to switch scenes – a great feature when you are producing remotely.
- Live Support – It offers live one-on-one chat support to assist you with any issue.
- Render live stream in multiple video qualities, including 720p30, 720p60, and 1080p30.
- Stream for an unlimited number of hours.
- It offers reliable integration with Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, and custom.
- Leverage the ‘Green Room’ feature to invite guests remotely by simply sharing a link.
- Privately chat with guests in the green room during the live stream.
- You don’t have to worry if you get disconnected. Lightstream keeps you live and informs your users until you get back live again.
Lightstream offers three versions:
- Free: $0
- IRL: $99 per month
The free plan provides a maximum streaming length of up to 3 hours and maximum output quality of 720p 30 fps. The premium plan comes with a streaming length of up to 12 hours and a maximum output quality of 720p 60 fps.
Live streaming software helps your broadcast live event feeds to your audience. You can also engage with your audience, allowing them to comment, react, and chat directly on your live stream.
Many of these live streaming platforms even let you share your live streams to your website, mobile app, and social media accounts.
Moreover, most live streaming software consists of a hardware encoder. It enables the conversion of RAW video input to digital format for playback on multiple devices.
You can also use streaming software to broadcast simultaneously on multiple platforms like social media, OTT platforms, mobile apps, and websites. On top of that, it enables you to edit, customize, and modify live streams as per your preferences.
Modern live streaming tools are more advanced than ever before. Most of them provide intuitive and user-friendly interfaces to meet the varied requirements of the virtual world.
Some of the options offer tons of features that you might not even need. However, there are some basic requirements that you need to take into consideration.
Here are a few features that you must look for in a streaming software:
- Live Chat – Live Chat is a great feature that helps in boosting the engagement of your live stream. Through the live chat feature, you can interact with the audience and answer their questions. Most importantly, you can also gauge the reaction of your viewers – all in real-time.
- Preview Editor – The Preview Editor will help you take a quick look at your video clips. You can also make last-minute edits or create a new clip altogether before making it live.
- Extensive Themes/Templates – Customizable themes can easily create a more personalized and immersive live streaming experience. For instance, adding a welcome screen and interval filler can make your live stream look more personalized.
- Multiview Feature – The multiview feature helps in keeping a close eye on all the cams. You can also switch/ transition between multiple cams through a couple of clicks.
- Real-Time Analytics – It’s crucial to have access to stats in real-time to gauge the success and engagement of your live stream. You can track all the metrics like the number of viewers, new subscribers, engagement based on geography and demographics to make your live stream user-centric.
- API and SDK – Developer-friendly mobile SDK and API infrastructure lets you integrate your live stream into services, cloud video applications, and digital media workflows.
- Social Media Integration – Extensive social media integration will help you live stream on multiple platforms like YouTube and Twitch simultaneously.
Using streaming software is more or less the same irrespective of different characteristics of different software vendors. Here, I am taking the example of XSplit to demonstrate how to use streaming software.
Xsplit supports live streaming on multiple platforms, including YouTube and Twitch.
Here’s a brief step-by-step guide that can help you start your live stream on Twitch with XSplit.
Before setting up the broadcast output, enable 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) on Twitch. You can’t begin your broadcast without 2FA.
Just go to the Twitch security settings page and click on the ‘Set Up Two-Factor Authentication’ option.
After you click on the ‘Set Up Two-Factor Authentication’ button, you will have to create a password and share your mobile number. After filling all the details, you will receive a confirmation message.
After setting up Two-Factor Authentication, now you need to set up the Twitch streaming output.
Here are the steps to follow:
Step #1. Click on the Broadcast > Set up a new output option. Next, click on the ‘Twitch’ button.
Step #2. Next, click on the ‘Authorize’ button and sign in with the Twitch account you want to use. After that, click on the ‘Next’ button.
Step #3. After verifying the Twitch credentials, browse the setup wizard carefully to identify the connection speed, best ingest server, and resolution for your live stream. After you are through with the settings, click on the ‘Finish’ button.
Finally, it’s time to start the Twitch broadcast.
Here is how:
Step #1. Click on the ‘Broadcast’ button and then select the output that you want to set.
Step #2. Here is what the screen on Twitch Properties would look like.
Other than this, it’s essential to get the settings right.
Here’s how to do it:
- Credentials: Select the Web Authentication that saves your Twitch credentials. This happens after an automatic or manual authorization. If you select the Web Authentication credentials, you can authorize your account through Twitch login.
- Twitch Username: Select the Twitch username for the account you want to stream to.
- Stream Key: Stream Key is a unique element that you will find under Stream Preferences on the Twitch Dashboard.
- Server: Either use Automatic or select the server with the lowest ping time. You can also choose the ingest server every time before you start your live stream broadcast.
That was all about the 7 best streaming software. All these software options serve the same purpose of live streaming videos. That said, each of them comes with a few unique USPs. And some of them are even available free of cost.
For example, OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS are excellent options if you are looking for an open-source solution. While both the tools are free, they come with all the necessary features required for live streaming and extensive integration capabilities.
Wirecast and vMix are most suited for large media houses that want to produce live events at scale. They are a better fit for large organizations, mostly due to their hefty pricing plans and advanced features.
On the other hand, XSplit is a good solution for gamers who need to live stream efficiently on a small budget.
Review your requirements and budget carefully before making the final choice.
And do let me know which streaming software are you planning to use? Which option would work best for you, and why? Comment below!