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What is live streaming? How live streaming works?

Debarpita Banerjee Published on : 13 April 2023
what is live streaming how live streaming works

Live streaming – the word itself needs no new introduction. We all have seen and enjoyed a live stream at least once in our life. Be it the live online music concert of our favorite pop star, or the live online interview of our favorite actor. Even online sports live streaming and esports matches. All of them come under the umbrella of live streaming

In recent years, live streaming has grown so popular that it already crossed a market size of US$ 37.35 billion in 2021. And by 2029, it is expected to reach a market size of US$ 252.78 billion, growing at a CAGR of 27% from 2022 to 2029. 

Now you must be wondering if live streaming is that simple, why are you even reading this blog? Well, a live stream looks simple to the viewers, but technically it is not that simple! Live streamers need to be fully aware of the technical process involved in live streaming, otherwise, they end up committing live streaming mistakes

So, if you are a new live streamer looking to understand the technical details of live streaming, then you are on the right page! In this blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about live streaming, its technicalities, how live streaming works, and more! So, keep reading!

So, What is Live Streaming?           

When the streamer streams the video live in real-time, such streams are called live streams. In short, in the case of live streams, the feed gets telecasted to viewers at that very moment. 

So, how is it different from normal video streaming? In the case of normal or on-demand video streaming, a recorded video is uploaded and encoded to the server, and the same encoded file gets decoded and streamed whenever a viewer requests to play it. 

But in live streaming, there is no recorded file. Whatever video feed is generated by the live streaming setup, that very feed is streamed to the viewers after encoding. This process is very quick and takes place at a lightning pace. Let’s understand the process in detail. 

How Does Live Streaming Work?  

Live streaming starts from the moment the live streamer switches on her camera. The raw video feed collected from the camera passes through the following steps before being delivered to the viewers:

  1. Compressing the video
  2. Encoding and Transcoding
  3. Video Segmentation
  4. Distribution through CDN
  5. CDN caching
  6. Decoding
  7. Playing The Video on end user’s device 

Let’s take you through all these steps one by one. 

how does live streaming work

Video Compression

When the raw video feed is generated, it has multiple redundancies. Also, its frame size and video bitrate may not be ideal for live streaming. So, the raw video is compressed so that the redundancies can be removed and the ideal video bitrate can be achieved. 

Encoding and Transcoding

It’s now time to convert the format of the compressed video footage. First, the raw video is encoded using a codec, which is further packed into a container or format. This process is called encoding. 

Now, there are many video encoding formats available nowadays, and each one of them has different applications. You need to choose a format that supports the codecs used to pack your content. Some of the top video encoding formats that are used frequently are:

  • MPEG-4 Part 14 or MPEG-4 AVC
  • AVI
  • H.264 & H.265
  • FLV

Video Segmentation

Nowadays, most live streaming software uses Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR). It makes your live stream flexible enough so that it can adjust its bitrate according to the bandwidth of the end user. Hence, even remote users with lower bandwidths can enjoy a buffer-free live stream. 

For this purpose, the video is first segmented into smaller chunks of video, and then each chunk is converted into multiple chunks of different video resolutions like 4K, 1080p, HD, 720p, etc. Then, chunks of similar resolution are combined together to form a video stream. In this way, multiple video streams are formed. 

Distribution through CDN

Once the video feed is ready to be telecasted, it is first sent to a CDN server for distribution. CDNs or Content Delivery Networks are a group of servers spread across the globe. When a viewer plays the live stream, the player requests the live feed from the nearest server located to the viewer. In this way, transition time is reduced, hence improving the quality of the stream by reducing the latency. 

CDN Caching

The process by which CDN caches the live feed and transmits it to the viewers is called CDN caching. When CDN receives the request from the viewer, the CDN server located nearest to the viewer gets activated and starts to catch the live feed (in the form of video segments as discussed above). Then, this cached feed is sent to the requested viewer. 


When the viewer’s player receives the feed from the CDN, it needs to decode it first, as it is in the encrypted form which cannot be played. So, the video feed is decoded by the decoder (which is a part of the codec), and a decoded and decompressed video file is generated. 

Playing The Video on end-user’s device

This decoded video file gets played on the end user’s device. Hence, the entire live streaming process actually involves 7 highly complicated technical steps which get complicated within seconds!

How to Start Live Streaming 

Now that you are technically aware of the live streaming process, you must be wondering how you can start your own live stream. Well, starting a live stream is not at all difficult, and a very minimal setup is needed for it. Let’s take a look at the setup you would need to start your own live streaming. 

Choose a Live Streaming Platform

First, you need to choose a platform on which you want to stream your live feed. Be careful here, as a lot depends on the features of your live-streaming platform. 

In this regard, if you are looking for a professional live-streaming solution with advanced security features, you can definitely try Muvi Live. Muvi Live offers professional live streaming with the following industry-leading features:

  • Get studio-approved multi-DRM security 
  • Connect and engage with your audience using Live Chat
  • Record live streams and release them as video-on-demand
  • Enjoy an advanced all-platform HTML5-based online video player
  • Built-in CDN network lets you stream from your nearest server
  • Use multiple cameras and switch between cameras effortlessly
  • Effortless streaming with built-in encoder and decoder

You can sign up and directly start streaming without paying anything upfront, and then pay as per your usage later.

Arrange the Tools and Equipment needed for Live Streaming

Once your platform is finalized, it’s now time to establish your live streaming setup. So, you would basically need the following live streaming tools and equipment:

  • A decent webcam or professional camera setup
  • A professional mic
  • A good audio blender that can combine audio from the mic and any other source
  • Steady internet connectivity with a minimum 5 MBPS upload bandwidth

Once you have the platform and the tools, you can start streaming right away! 

Read this article to know how you can start streaming live with Muvi Live!

Who Can Stream Live?   

Now the question comes, who can do a live stream? The answer is, ANYONE!

Live streaming is a medium of connecting with people, expressing your thoughts, and interacting with them. The topic and purpose of the live stream can be anything. 

And as far as industries are concerned, live streams are used by almost all the industry for different purposes. Let’s take you through some of the business use cases of live streaming.

industries who use live streaming

Live Streaming for EdTech

The EdTech and E-Learning companies often use live streaming for holding live classes and live interactive sessions between tutors and students. These sessions are critical for their business, as a lot of their business success depends on the experience that the students get from these sessions. The students can use these sessions as a gateway to clear their doubts, as they can directly ask any questions to the professors. Hence, without live streaming, E-Learning might not be as effective. 

Live Streaming for Corporates

Just like eLearning, corporate learning and training also use live streaming. They often need to train their remote employees. Live streaming plays a vital role in it. The corporate trainers can hold a live session with the new joiners and interact with them directly, explaining all the aspects.      

Apart from training, corporates use live streaming solutions for holding webinars, live product and service launch events, annual events, and a lot more! Some corporate companies even use live sessions for proportional events and live interactions with clients.                                                                                                                                                       

Live Streaming for Sports and eSports

Sports streaming is nothing new. All of us have enjoyed our favorite sports matches on TV. But, in this generation of video streaming, sports have come to smartphones. Using sports live streaming solutions, sports matches are telecasted live on video streaming platforms. Hence, today, you can keep track of your favorite team’s performance on the go, anytime, from anywhere. 

And now, even eSports tournaments are getting telecasted live, online. Even many individual players live stream their matches, and earn hefty revenues from it!                    

Live Streaming for Film and Music

Nowadays, many plays and music concerts get streamed live, and online. Hence, audiences can enjoy the concerts and play from the comforts of their homes, without any need to step out.             

Live Streaming for Media Houses

News channels and media houses keep experimenting with live streaming. Apart from traditional live streaming of news reports, many media houses also hold live interaction sessions with their news anchors and reporters, where people can directly ask any question to them. It helps them in increasing their fan following and popularity.                                                                                                                              

Pros and Cons of Live Streaming     

Every technology has some good and some bad sides, and so is for live streaming. It’s now time to take a look at some of the pros and cons of live streaming. 

Live Streaming Pros

  • Starting a live-streaming business doesn’t require much investment. Literally, anyone can start a live stream.           
  • Real-time interaction with your audience leaves a long-term impact on your viewer’s mind. As they can ask their questions directly, it helps you know your audience better.   
  • If you already own a video streaming business, live streaming can add an additional source of income for your business. 
  • Any industry can use it for any purpose. 

Live Streaming Cons

  • If you do not have a good network connection, you might face technical glitches in between your live sessions. 
  • It is a one-take show. So, you need to be confident and careful not to commit mistakes.  

How To Earn From Live Streaming

How To Earn From Live Streaming?

Do you know? You can earn a good amount of money from your live streams. There are many ways by which you can earn from your live streams. Let’s discuss some of those ways. 

  • Insert Ads: You can monetize your live streams by inserting ads in between. 
  • Subscriptions and Memberships: You can launch subscription or membership plans, where your viewers will have to pay a certain amount every month in order to access your content. 
  • Repurpose your live streams: You can record your live streams and then release them as Video-on-Demand content. You can then generate revenue from those VOD contents, by inserting ads or monetizing them as SVOD or TVOD videos.     

How to Grow Your Live Streaming Viewership

How to Grow Your Live Streaming Viewership?

We all do a lot of preparations and hard work to present a live stream as perfectly as possible. But if we don’t get enough viewership, it’s natural to get disheartened. So, how can you increase the viewership of your live stream? It’s actually quite simple. You just need to follow the tips given below:

  • Always Promote Your Live Streams Beforehand: Plan your live stream at least three days before, so that you can promote it properly. Once the topic is decided, design a porter of your live-streaming topic and start promoting it on social media and Facebook ads.        
  • Email Your Viewers Directly: If you have the email IDs of your viewers (in case you collected it through a subscription form, registration form, or other forms), email the live streaming poster along with the registration or joining link. Trust me, it can do wonders for your viewership.     
  • Runs Polls: You can run polls during your live stream to know the preferred topics of your viewers, and if you like the topic, announce then and there that you are going to cover it on a particular date. 
  • Create a Teaser: A short and crisp teaser helps in dragging the attention of your viewers. Shoot a teaser for your live stream with the most relevant and attractive points you are going to cover, and release it on your platform, YouTube, and social media handles. But make sure that you release it at least two days before your live stream. 
  • Insta Reels and YouTube Shorts: Reels and shorts can be used to promote your live streams. Talk about the questions that you are going to answer during that live session, and ask your viewers to join on time. Again, it should be done at least two days before your live stream. 

If you follow these five tips sincerely, you will definitely see growth in your live-streaming viewership in some time. 

Stream Live, With Muvi Live

From the above discussions, you can conclude that live streaming is simple and easy to start with, as you do not need much costly setup or any hardcore content. A simple webcam, mic and some original ideas to talk about would be more than enough. 

And now, live streaming becomes even easier, with Muvi Live – a one-in-all live streaming platform that lets you deliver professional live streams effortlessly. You just need to sign up with Muvi Live, and start live streaming! No need to pay anything upfront.  

And that is not all, you can generate HLS output from Muvi Live to stream on any platform. You can even use OBS to customize your live stream as you like. 

Want to know how you can integrate Muvi Live with OBS? Just follow the steps given below:

  • First, Open OBS in a new tab.
  • Then, click on the “+” icon appearing under “Scenes”. It will add a new scene.
  • Next, click on the “+” icon appearing under “Sources”. It will add a new source. 
  • While selecting the source, select “Select Video Capture Device” from the list.
  • Click on “OK” and then click on “OK” to add the capture device.
  • Now, navigate to “File” –>” Settings” –>” Stream”.
  • From the drop-down select “Custom”.
  • Here, type the “Server” and “Stream Key” that you have obtained from Muvi Live.
  • Click on “Apply” and “OK”.

Once you click on “Start Streaming” in the bottom right corner of OBS, the integration will get completed and you can start streaming your live stream.

Isn’t it easy? So, why wait? Sign up and start streaming for free


What equipment do I need to live stream?

You will need the following equipment:

  • Live streaming platform
  • A decent webcam or professional camera setup
  • A professional mic
  • A good audio blender that can combine audio from the mic and any other source
  • Steady internet connectivity with a minimum 5 MBPS upload bandwidth

Can I monetize my live streams and how?

You can monetize your live streams by the following methods:

  • Insert ads
  • Charge for subscription and membership
  • Reuse your live streams as VOD content. 

What are some tips for ensuring a successful live stream?

  • Always Promote Your Live Streams Beforehand   
  • Email Your Viewers Directly
  • Runs Polls
  • Create a Teaser
  • Insta Reels and YouTube Shorts. 

Muvi Live CTA

More on Live Streaming:

Biggest mistakes that live streamers makeA guide to start IRL Live Streaming
A guide to start Golf Live Streaming


Best Live Streaming Softwares


Written by: Debarpita Banerjee

Debarpita is a Content Writer with Muvi. With around 2 years of experience in content creation, she has worked across industries like SaaS, EdTech, eLearning, AR-VR, and Metaverse. She believes in delivering content that can be of some value to the readers. In her free time, she likes to try her hand at website and app development.

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