Overcoming the Challenges of Streaming Live High Quality HD

Making sure your live video is of high quality is critical to your success. Thankfully the increase of internet speed and better encoding techniques and technology is making broadcasting live video simpler.

Here we will cover some of the primary concerns that you will encounter when trying to broadcast your live stream. We will look at the top 4 challenges you will face when broadcasting live HD video.

Each year the number of internet audiences grows. Last year 81 % of viewers viewed more live video content than the year before. So making sure that your business has high quality video is crucial to get them hooked onto your content.

Why is broadcasting in high quality challenging?

Four reasons for why your video quality can suffer and buffering can interfere with your broadcast.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of everything that can go wrong but these are the most common reasons.

  1. Slow connection – slow upload speed
    This reason speaks for itself. If your upload speed is to slow then obviously you can not get your content to the CDN in a smooth manner. This can cause all kinds of issues including the video dropping, buffering and many more problems.

  2. Viewer’s connection is to slow – not enough download speed
    You need to keep in mind your viewers connection speed. For example if you are serving a rural community you can expect your viewers connection speed to be slower. Although this is becoming more rare in today’s world it can still occur. Or if your viewer is on a mobile device with a poor connection. So even if you are doing everything right does not guarantee your viewer will still be able to view it.

  3. Encoder is overloading your computer
    Many people do not realize that encoding can put a strain on your computer. The more demanding the encoding is the more your live broadcast can suffer. You need to make sure you computer has enough processing power and RAM to handle video processing. Also if you are doing a multibitrate or adaptive bit rate stream you will place heavier burdens on your computer. Some broadcasters want to broadcast live, record the stream, and do a multi bit rate stream all at the same time. The bottom line is the more you do the more your machine may overload.

  4. VBR may cause you to go over the max bitrate
    This does not occur as often as some people do not use VBR (Variable Bit Rate). Variable bitrate is a technique that increase and decrease video size (bitrate) depending on how much action is going on in each frame. This can allow for higher quality video at lower bitrates. However it can also have the opposite effect and cause you to exceed your connection speed for short burst of time causing dropped frames. You may be better off keeping a constant lower bitrate.

5 Steps for Streaming Live HD Video

  1. Your Internet Speed
    Make sure you know your upload speed. This is critical because a slow upload speed can ruin your broadcast. Take into account all of your audio and video stream (including multi-bitrate) and add them up. Make sure your internet speed is at-least double your sum total of all your audio and video streams.

A couple of techniques to boost your speed:

Using Ethernet is faster than WIFI
Turn off all devices connected to the same internet connection
Turn off any applications on your computer that are connected to the internet.

  1. Choose the right encoder
    Choose an encoder that meets your needs. Make sure you encoder is compatible with your CDN (your video platform provider). If you are using tvstartup.com to broadcast then any encoder that supports RTMP will work. In fact tvstartup.com has turnkey solutions to get you started including turk key solutions for TV apps on iPhone, Roku, Android, Android TV and more.

  2. Best encoder settings for Live Broadcast in HD

Video Settings

codec: h.264
Key-frame: 2 Seconds

Video Resolutions Settings

426 x 240 pixels (240p)
640 x 360 (360p, Low Definition)
854 x 480 (480p, Standard Definition)
1280 x 720 (720p HD)
1920 x 1080 (1080p, or Full HD)
3840 x 2160 (4K or Ultra HD)
Bitrate settings
Bitrates of all different ranges are quite fine for live broadcast.

3840 x 2160 — 4K, recommended bitrate = 25 Mbps (not recommended for live streaming)
1920 x 1080 — 1080p, recommended bitrate = 4-6 Mbps
1280 x 720 — 720p, recommended bitrate = 3 – 5 Mbps
854 x 480 — 480p, recommended bitrate = 1.5 – 3 Mbps
640 x 360 — AKA 360p, recommended bitrate = 500Kbps – 1 Mbps
426 x 240 pixels — Also known as 240p, recommended bitrate = 256 Kbps

Audio should be the AAC codec. This may not seem as familiar as MP3 but it gives better quality at lower bitrates.

Your sample rate should be 44100Khz and the audio bitrate should match the video resolution:

360p or lower 64Kbp mono

480p and 720p 128 kbps stereo.

1080p and better 256 Kbps stereo

Final Step is to make sure you have the right CDN

A “CDN” also known as a “Content Delivery Network” also known as a “Video Platform” is critical to the success of your live broadcast or IPTV channel. A CDN allows for hundreds, even thousands of viewers to watch your live broadcast simultaneously. Without a CDN you could only serve a few simultaneous viewers before your server would crash. A great CD N will have fantastic DNS load balancing (Balancing the request for your channel efficiently making video load times faster) and will be able to accommodat e large audiences with ease. You also want a CDN that can understand the client side of things. A CDN that knows TV apps like ROKU, iPhone, Android, Amazon FireTV, Android TV, Smart TV’s and more. Tvstartup.com offers turnkey packages including Internet TV channels and apps as well as their large CDN.

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Live Broadcasting – Best Encoder Settings

Live streaming is exploding in popularity and as it explodes businesses like yours can take advantage of increasing their brand awareness and engaging with audiences around the globe. However if your video does not look good then your company does not look good. This is why its is important to understand the best encoding settings and practices. In fact there was a study that shows 62 percent of viewers will have a more negative opinion of a company if the video is poor quality (https://tech.co/rise-live-streaming-impacts-digital-marketing-2017-10).

This makes it extremely important that you learn to utilize the best encoding settings and practices. IN this article we will focus more on improving the video quality through encoding.

Broadcasting Live is Critical to Businesses

Today businesses are broadcasting live for quite an array of different uses. A great example is how Over The Top broadcasting is replacing traditional cable TV with online Video content. This content is accessible anywhere to viewers with laptops, tablets and phones. Today broadcasters are no longer confined to geographical limitations set by cable and satellite companies that can not reach outside certain geographical limitations. Many broadcasters are now monetizing their content through charging subscriptions or inserting digital advertising.

Businesses use live streaming for marketing, training, product launches, concerts, live events as well as schools, universities and many education facilities world wide. The sector is experiencing a growth rate of more than 20 percent per year and in 2017 more people watched video content online than satellite and cable TV combined.

So now that we understand the many uses of live broadcasting lets proceed to understanding some tof the best encoding settings.

Video Quality is Determined by your Encoding Settings

First we have to understand the job of an encoder which is really in all reality to compress video. The video stream coming out the back of your camera may be 25 Mbps or higher. However your internet connection upload speed may be only 5 Mbps. So you have to compress the video or it wont fit through the internet. It will simple skip and buffer with horrible results. However the more you “compress” a streaming video the worse it will look. So the encoding dance is trying to maximize bandwidth while at the same time not destroying its quality.

Your bitrate controls the quality. The higher the bit rate the better the quality. Bitrate is usually measure id Kbps or Mbps. Although bitrate and resolution are not the same settings they are intertwined. That is because the higher the resolution the more bitrate it requires to display it correctly with out distortion. So if you choose a high resolution but a low bitrate then your video quality will suffer.

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Below is some bitrate and resolutions that should help your live broadcast.

3840 x 2160 — 4K, recommended bitrate = 25 Mbps (not recomended for live streaming)
1920 x 1080 — 1080p, recommended bitrate = 4-6 Mbps
1280 x 720 — 720p, recommended bitrate = 3 – 5 Mbps
854 x 480 — 480p, recommended bitrate = 1.5 – 3 Mbps
640 x 360 — AKA 360p, recommended bitrate = 500Kbps – 1 Mbps
426 x 240 pixels — Also known as 240p, recommended bitrate = 256 Kbps

Please also understand that even if your upload speed is high and that you can accommodate those broadcast (upload) speeds does not mean your viewers internet speed can view it. So take into consideration your audience. If your audience is mostly in developed countries then you should be fine. However if your broadcasting to say African countries then you should take into account their lower speeds.

Multi-Bitrate vs Single

Multi bitrate can adjust to a viewers connection speed. This is done by encoding two different versions of the stream, a lower quality and a higher quality. Your encoder then sends both the streams to your video streaming platform (CDN) simultaneously. The video player will adjust accordingly by detecting the internet speed of the viewer and giving them the best quality stream for their connection speed.

To use this your encoder software must be able to encode different versions of your stream. These different versions of the stream are sent to the video streaming platform at the same time.

When the viewer is viewing the stream the video player (if it is a adaptive bitrate video player) the player will select the stream that best suites the viewers internet speed.

Miscellaneous Video and Audio Settings for Encoding

Several other settings you need to know about will help give you a smooth broadcast.

Video Codec

Your Video codec should be H.264 and it can also be labeled as X264.

Audio should be the AAC codec. This may not seem as familiar as MP3 but it gives better quality at lower bitrates.

Your sample rate should be 44100Khz and the audio bitrate should match the video resolution:

360p or lower 64Kbp mono

480p and 720p 128 kbps stereo.

1080p and better 256 Kbps stereo

Your keyframes interval should be 2 seconds.

How Fast of a Internet Upload Speed do I need for Live Broadcast?

Internet speed also known as “Bandwidth” is both determined by the download speed and the upload speed. Obviously the more multi bitrate or adaptive streams you have the more bandwidth you need. As you should know most upload speed are slower than download. Also the “advertised” upload speed is usually much faster than the “average” upload speed that you will experience. So keep this in mind.

To figure out how fast your upload speed should be use this formula:

Total required bandwidth = (The total of your video bitrates) + (The total of all your audio bitrates)

For example lets say you have:

854 x 480 resolution running at 500 Kbps and the audio at 64Kbps

1280 x 720 at 3 Mbps and audio at 128Kbps

1980 x 1080 at 5 Mbps and audio at 128 Kbps

So for this you r total bitrate is 8.5 Mbps and your sum of audio is 320 Kbps. When we add these numbers together means we have a total bitrate of 8.83 Mbps. You will want your upload speed to be at-least double this.

In conclusion you should be able to take this information and stream efficiently and effectively and give your company name the reputation it deserves.

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How to Broadcast Live On Your Website

So you got a website and you want to broadcast live or stream live video to your site. Well then you are ready to proceed! In this article I will give you the pieces you need to setup a live video on your website.

There is three pieces to this procedure: live streaming (broadcasting), your streaming software, and embedding your live video on your site. Lets look at each piece.

Broadcasting Live Video

Before you begin you may need a few pieces of equipment to get your video on your website.


The first is the most obvious, your camera or recording/capture device. This can be as basic as a webcam or a high tech as a 4k Ultra HD. Whats going to be important is that you have there right device for the right job. Also keep in mind that most cameras are made with the intention of recording, so you want to make sure your cameras has the capability of streaming as well. Also its a great idea to have a camera with a HDMI connection as these produce the best looking streams.

You may also want to look into whatever audio equipment you are going to use as some people do not like the quality of the built in mics on their cameras.


Probably one of the least understood piece to the puzzle is encoding. There are two ways to encode; Software or hardware (like a standalone encoder but these can be much more expensive). Software is probably going to be your best bet as it not only effective it is less very cheap.

Encoding simply compresses the video or changes the format to one that is optimized for broadcast over the internet. Your camera output might put out something like 25 Mbps and obviously if your upload speed is less then you wont be able to broadcast live. This is what encoding does, it will compress that video down to a streaming size that is manageable (something like 3 Mbps ) so that you have a smooth broadcast without interruption.

Internet Connection

You must have a internet connection that is steady and reliable with a decent upload speed. You want to make sure that your upload speed is much faster than your encoding speed. For example if you upload speed averages 5Mbps and your encoder is set to encode the video at 2.5 Mbps then you should be all set. You have to make sure that your upload speed is quite a bit faster than your video encoding speed because your connection may vary up and down throughout the broadcast.

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Video CDN or Video Host

You can not broadcast live without a video platform or service. Youtube is an example of a popular video platform, however it is quite difficult to utilize for live streaming video and is not a professional service in which you can brand you own company. The best option is to use a dedicated white label video platform also known as a CDN (one that specializes in video). In fact without a professional video platform you can not serve hundreds or thousands of simultaneous viewers. That is one of the features of a professional video platforms is that your stream can be watched by thousands without buffering. If you simply only have a hosting account no more than two or three at at time could watch it before the server and bandwidth crashed.

There are several out there but if your looking for someone that gives you the software you need, the white labeled video platform, viewer stats and even video TV apps all in one then tvstartup.com is probably your best bet.


Last but not least you need to embed your code onto your website. If you are a tvstartup.com customer this will be easy as the embed code is listed in your account. Just login and go to the “documentation” tab and you can copy the embed code right out of your account. You will have several options for both an iframe, javascript or what ever you need.

Okay so now you got the code you can simply embed it by accessing the HTML code view. For a wordpress site this is not hard at all. Go to edit a post or a page and then click the tab for the “text” editor so you can then paste the embed code where you want it in your page. Simple save and now you are ready to go.

If you need help and you are a tvstartup customer we can do this for you.

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