Getting Started with Streaming
Getting started with streaming today is easy and requires only basic equipment. You can build and improve your stream over time as you figure out more advanced topics and cover different games or activities to go with it.
What you need
Here's the minimum you need to go live.
- A computer running Windows, macOS or a recent Linux distribution
- Your computer should not be much older than 4-6 years so it is fast enough to stream
- Desktop computer is preferred, but modern notebooks or all-in-one computers can work as well
- A stable internet connection with 4-5 mbps upload speed or better
- Slower connections can work, but you will need to compromise on quality
- If you want to show yourself, you need a webcam
- The built-in webcam of a laptop can be used of course to get started
- Streaming software
- There are a few options to choose from, both paid and free
- We will use the free OBS Studio in our guides
- Streaming service
- This is the site your viewers will use to watch and interact with you
- The most used sites today are Twitch.tv, Youtube Live, Facebook Live and Mixer among many other, smaller sites.
- We will focus on Twitch.tv and Youtube Live, but all services are very similar to setup
- Last but not least: A game or activity you love to show other people!
We will use OBS Studio as our streaming software, so it does not matter if you have a Windows PC, Apple Mac or a Linux computer.
It should run Windows 7 and newer or Apple macOS 10.10 and newer. For Linux there is no fixed requirements, but OBS only provides official packages for Ubuntu 14.04 or newer.
To stream games, the computer should have a dedicated graphics card and a processor with 4 cores.
Your internet connection
If possible, connect your computer with an ethernet cable to the internet instead of WiFi. This helps to keep you live with as little hiccups as possible.
For streaming, your outgoing connection speed is important (called "Upload"). You can use a common internet speed test to get an idea of how fast your connection is.
Depending on your upload speed, you should pick your resolution and frame rate to stream at. You can find a good overview about needed upload speeds for streaming common resolutions like 720p, 1080p or even 4K at the Youtube Support Documents.
Picking a streaming service
Picking your streaming service can be a bit tricky as it depends on your content as well as the community you like to address.
For gaming, most major services are good to use. But Twitch.tv, Youtube Live Gaming and Mixer are specifically tailored towards gamers by offering game-related content, directories and filters.
For real life content (e.g. arts, handcraft, talk shows etc.) you may want to tend towards Youtube Live, Facebook Live or Twitch.tv's "IRL" section.
If you already have a Youtube channel, you may want to stream to Youtube Live as your subs will also get noticed of your live streams and you can easily archive your streams directly in your channel.
This also applies to Facebook. If you already have an active Facebook page and community, you will probably want to stream to that audience directly instead of linking your live stream on another service.
In terms of reach, Twitch.tv is probably the biggest platform - it's established and well known in many countries.
Mixer's selling point is it's very low latency, offering you direct conversations with your viewers and unique tools (like giving your viewers control over your game!). Mixer is new, but growing fast due to the fact that it's backed by Microsoft and integrated directly into the Xbox One console.