Start live streaming
Connect and engage with your audience in real-time using YouTube Live.
What is YouTube Live?
YouTube Live lets you live stream in real-time on your YouTube channel. It’s a fast, authentic way to connect with your audience. You can use live streaming to share experiences and unscripted responses to events, news, and even unboxings. The YouTube Live dashboard gives you instant analytics and offers tools, like chat, that lets your audience communicate with you (and each other) while live.
YouTube Live can complement your day-to-day programming:
- There’s no post-production (unless you plan on trimming or making a new video) making it a great tool when you don’t have a lot time.
- You can easily share unfiltered moments, emotional reactions, and even behind-the-scenes events.
- Your audience can participate and help guide the stream from live chat.
- All of your videos, live and videos-on-demand (VOD), have one unified home on YouTube. Live streamed videos are automatically added to your channel just like an upload.
Note: YouTube Live on iOS and Android is only available in certain markets but will be available to all within a few months.
Live streaming is being used on YouTube to:
- Promote new projects or milestones.
- Host Q & A sessions guided by the chat stream.
- Share breaking news--YouTube live streaming can be enabled anywhere from mobile devices.
- Learn more.
What are my options for going live?
You can go live anywhere, anytime, from your mobile device. Or, you can host a live stream from your desktop too. Use this chart to determine which option is best for you. Note: there are two options for live streaming from your desktop: Stream now and Events.
Desktop - Stream now
Desktop - Events
Live stream on-the-go. Take advantage of being mobile! A produced show you want to repeat without having to set up your equipment every time. High quality audio/visual experiences. Often these are one-time events or special shows. Sometimes used by broadcasters for major concerts and events.
No equipment needed except a mobile device with camera and an internet connection. At minimum, you’ll need one laptop and streaming software. Webcam is needed if capturing video. At minimum, you’ll need one computer, camera, and streaming software but can add more audio/video sources and customize.
- You can go live with the click of a button and then point and shoot with your mobile device’s camera.
- Portable, you can stream anywhere.
- You can film impromptu events unfolding in front of you.
- You can go live on desktop with just a few clicks.
- The workflow is streamlined so you can set it up once and go live over and over again without making any changes.
- There is a single URL for all live streams on each channel. Just add /live to the end of the channel URL.
- You have the most manual control over the cameras and stream for a customized output.
- The workflow allows you to use more sophisticated features such as 360-degree cameras, multi-cam and specialized hardware.
- You can schedule multiple live streams in advance and let your audience know when to tune in.
See it in action
YouTube Live utilized for a weekly seriesAlex Wassabi uses YouTube Live to host his weekly WassabiWednesday live stream.
Mobile live streaming for emotional momentsUnbox therapy talks to his fans live on YouTube.
Plan your live stream
While the essence of a live stream is to be improvisational, try out some of these tips to help ensure a smooth live streaming experience:
- Decide ahead of time on the topics you want to cover. This can help you appear organized and not run out of things to say on the spot.
- Consider inviting a co-host to keep the energy up and maintain balance between talking to the audience, reading live chat, and moving in between topics.
- Write out a plan (so you know exactly what you’re going to be live streaming about) that includes a timeline for each segment and a list of potential questions to ask.
- Establish who will monitor the chat, stream health, and other technical elements of the live stream before you begin.
- Design your title, description and thumbnail beforehand. These are critical in helping your live stream be more easily discovered once you’ve gone live. Learn more in our course on Growing your audience.
- Repeat! Creators have found success with live streams when they produce them on a regular schedule because, like a series on television, their audience knows when to tune in. If your idea for a live stream will work as a series, think about how often it could be sustainable for you to produce.
YouTube Live is being used in many different video genres. Try asking these questions when choosing what type of content to live stream:
- What’s the goal of this live stream? Why is this a topic you should shoot as a live stream? Are there intrinsic benefits to doing this live instead of as a video-on-demand? How can you incorporate the audience into your live stream?
- Is this a topic/genre/format you want to produce one-time or is it repeatable?
- If viewers join late, will they understand what’s going on?
- Can you repurpose and edit this for a short video-on-demand?
- How long do you want this live stream to be?
Promote and produce
Once you’ve got a plan for your live stream, the next step is to get the word out. Social media is a great place to start and you can also promote it on your channel. For desktop live streams, consider pre-scheduling, noting date and time in your channel description, editing a promotion into your channel banner, making a preview video to get your audience amped up about it and sharing the URL of the live stream early. If you’re going live from mobile, you can announce ahead of time when to tune into your channel and choose to alert subscribers when you press “Go live”. Be sure to set your metadata up before starting to record, so that your live stream can be more easily discovered.
Production techniques you usually consider when making videos become exceedingly more important when live streaming because there is no editing--it’s all live. Remember to check your lighting, sound, camera framing, and internet connection before you start streaming.
Technical considerations and metadata vary based on the way you choose to live stream. Check out this handy chart for the details:
Desktop - Stream now
Desktop - Events
Not required. Streaming software required.
“Quick” option does not require streaming software.
“Custom” option requires streaming software.
Metadata and thumbnail:
Title can be set at the beginning of the stream. You can take a picture for your thumbnail. Title and description can be set at the beginning of the stream. You can update video title, description, and thumbnail anytime. Title and description can be set at the beginning of the stream. You can update video title, description, and thumbnail anytime.
You cannot schedule ahead of time. You can schedule your next live stream. You can schedule multiple live streams ahead of time.
You can share your stream by notifying subscribers and using the built-in social sharing options.
You can use a single URL for all live streams by adding /live to the end of your channel URL. There are options on the Live Dashboard to share via social media.
For gamers, your live stream can be surfaced on YouTube by selecting the gaming category and game title.
You can notify your subscribers ahead of time with scheduled live streams.
Manage chat and analytics
Once you’ve started a live stream, YouTube lets you monitor chat and key metrics from your dashboard. Chat allows your audience to comment in real-time and displays as a stream. The dashboard lets you keep an eye on your live stream’s health. The details of each differ based on which way you’ve gone live:
Desktop - Stream now
Desktop - Events
Yes - Viewers can chat and chat is displayed on the mobile display. Yes - Viewers can see and respond to chat. Creator can chat and there are manual moderation options. Yes - Viewers can see and respond to chat. Creator can chat and there are manual moderation options.
Streamlined view shows stream status, time elapsed, number of views, likes, and chat comments.
Modular dashboard: shows stream status, highlights, metadata options, real-time analytics, chat and moderation options, social sharing, and key stream metrics.
Sections of the dashboard are modular so you can customize it.
Full dashboard: shows stream status, highlights and metadata options, real-time analytics, chat and moderation options, social sharing, and key stream metrics.