For any live-streaming business, the live-streaming server is the backbone! And if you are a regular live streamer with immense bandwidth consumption, you might be thinking of setting up an in-house live-streaming server, right? In this blog, we will tell you how to do that, what benefits you will get, what cons you should know about, and what are alternatives available. So, let’s dive in straight away!
What is a Live Streaming Server?
If you are already well aware of a live-streaming server, then you can skip this part. But, for those unversed, a live-streaming server is just a type of video streaming server, that helps telecast live feed.
Now what is a video streaming server?
A video streaming server is a web server with built-in RTPS functionality. This function helps it deliver live and recorded video feeds to any device that can access the internet.
Nowadays, cloud-based video streaming servers and content delivery networks are in use massively. One of the major reasons why they are preferred over traditional video streaming servers is that they enable the viewers to stream the content directly from the cloud.
Hence, the viewers don’t need to store the video feeds in their systems. Hence, they can save a lot of memory space this way. Otherwise, we all remember those old days when we could hardly store 100 movies in a device. Today, we can stream over 1000 movies through the internet and cloud servers.
So, Is Live Streaming Server Different From Video Streaming Server?
The answer is both yes and no! Technically, a live streaming server is also a video streaming server, so there is no difference in their technical build or functionality.
But theoretically, a live streaming server is used for live streams, where the video stream is broadcasted as soon as it is captured.
Why Do You Need A Live Stream Server?
If you want to live stream, you will need a server, because, without it, you won’t be able to broadcast your live streams efficiently. But, apart from this obvious reason, there are a few more reasons to choose a dedicated and good-quality live-streaming server, some of which are mentioned below.
Easy to Share Videos
A good live-streaming servers let you share videos using HLS share outputs. These HLS links are very easy to embed and stream on multiple platforms, hence increasing your audience base significantly.
Live Stream To A Large Number of Audience
A good live-streaming server has the ability to handle multiple concurrent viewerships at a single time. Now, you need to understand this point technically. Suppose you have done a very good promotion of your live event and a million people from across the globe are expected to join in. But, if your server doesn’t have the capacity to support this stream, it will get stuck as soon as some thousand people join in. Hence, you will have to lose a large section of the audience.
That is why, before choosing a live-streaming server, you must check whether it is capable of handling a large number of concurrent viewers or not.
Deliver Videos to Multiple Devices
Nowadays, all the good live streaming servers are compatible with all the leading web browsers and multiple devices like mobile phones, smart TVs, tablets, and PCs. Hence, it lets your viewers tune in from any device using any browser.
Which Features Define The Best Live Streaming Server?
Choosing a server for streaming is not that easy. You need to consider multiple factors like stream quality, system compatibility, security, ABR, DVR, and geo-restrictions. As a server is the backbone of your live streaming, the capabilities of the live stream server directly impact the quality of your live stream and the user experience of your viewers, so you cannot do mistakes here. To make things easier for you, let’s discuss some of these features in detail.
Your server can impact the quality of your live stream in multiple ways. For example, if the server is centralized and is located in a specific geographic location, then viewers sitting in the other part of the globe might face latency issues, as it will take time for your live video to get transmitted to your user’s end device.
Also, if the capacity of the live stream server is not good enough, you will face scalability issues, as your stream will start buffering once it reaches a specific number of concurrent viewers.
To tackle all these issues, you will need a content delivery network or CDN. A CDN is not just a server, rather it is a network of multiple cloud servers located across the globe. They can tackle a much higher number of concurrent viewers, and help in reducing the latency to the bare minimum.
System Compatibility and Multiple Video Formats
Live streaming caters to very diverse audience types and demographics. So, there is a high chance that your viewers will use multiple devices and browsers to join your live stream. Hence, you need to make sure that your server is compatible with all of them.
Security is one of the most vital components to look for when choosing a live-streaming server. In recent years, the incidences of piracy and illegal use of copyright-protected content have increased significantly. A good server should be able to protect your content from any of these attempts. That is why, you must look for features like multi-DRM protection and dynamic watermarking.
Multi-DRM protects from unwanted access to your content, as only authentic viewers can access your content. Dynamic Watermarking helps protect your content from screen recordings.
You would obviously look to maximize your revenues from live streaming. Sometimes, depending on only one monetization model (like ads or subscriptions) is not enough. You will need to implement multiple monetization models simultaneously at times.
That is why, compatibility of your server with multiple monetization like advertisements, subscriptions, pay-per-view, and coupons become important.
Custom Player Settings
Good servers have pre-integrated players, and they let you customize how your video will be presented to your viewers. So, you can actually insert a logo, and customize other payer settings in such cases.
Adaptive Bitrate Streaming
When the videos are streamed at the viewer’s end, the internet connectivity is not always uniform. And some of your viewers might live in remote locations, so internet bandwidth might not be satisfactory. Hence, it is understandable that all viewers will not be able to stream 4K or HD videos smoothly always.
So, in order to reduce buffering at the user’s end, the video is encoded in such a way that each scene of the video is available in three to four different resolutions. During the playback time, the best possible resolution get’s played out, hence viewer does not experience any buffering.
DVR Enabled Live Streaming
DVR enables your viewers to pause and resume in between a live feed. For this purpose, the live feed also gets recorded and saved at the same time in the cloud server. So, when the viewer pauses the live stream, it gets paused, and when it is resumed, it starts playing the recorded video for that part.
You might want to broadcast to the viewers of a specific geography at times. Geo-restrictions come in handy in such cases. If you activate the geo-restriction feature and select some countries to be restricted, the people living in those countries won’t be able to watch your live stream. It helps you protect your content from unwanted access.
How To Build A Live Streaming Server?
So, now the question comes, how you can build a live-streaming server on your own? Before discussing the actual process, I would like to tell you that this DIY method is for those who have a bit of technical knowledge. I won’t say that you need amazing coding skills, but you should be at least familiar with the basics.
Step 1 – Know Your Requirements
You must know your live streaming requirements clearly. How much audience you can get, how many hours will you live stream, what security features you need, who will access your live stream, and what systems you and your audience will be using?
This step is important because, in a self-made server, you usually expect certain specific features that are your unique requirements. But, if you don’t know those requirements beforehand, then you won’t be able to come up with the required solutions. That is why, knowing your requirements is important.
Step 2 – Search for a Pre-Built Open Source Project
If you are not a technical geek, then we would suggest that you should not go for coding the entire server from scratch. Because if you get stuck among bugs, it will take a lot of time to debug. That is why, first, you should search for some open-source projects from GitHub, and try to understand the process. Once you have somewhat understood the process, then you should start building your own server.
Step 3 – Start Creating Your Own Server
Once you have understood the open-source code, you need to decide the type and base of your server. This step is critical as the actual development starts here.
You can first start with an Nginx server. We are recommending Nginx because it can run on any OS, including Linux, Windows, MacOS, or any other. This will offer the flexibility you need in the beginning of your development process. Also, the Nginx server can also integrate very easily with the HLS and RTMP protocols.
Once you are comfortable with the Nginx server, you can then use the open library of the Nginx server, along with the code base of your open-source project, to develop your own live-streaming server. If you’re looking to take things a step further and create a streaming website, you can build on your Nginx foundation. Nginx is a great choice for this endeavor due to its versatility across various operating systems.
Develop the base of your server first, using the base code of your downloaded project, and then add numerous tools and additional features from the Nginx library, like:
ABR and DVR
Step 5 – Embed a Video Player
A video player is a destination where your live videos will ultimately get played. You will need it if you are developing your own live-streaming platform. Why are we telling it here? Because unless and until you don’t have a player, you will probably not be able to test your live-streaming server.
So, you can either set up a completely new website from scratch and then embed player SDKs like Muvi Player. Or, use a no-code live streaming platform builder like Muvi Live with live streaming SDK capabilities.
But since you are doing it on your own, we are assuming that you would build your website and then embed the Player SDKs.
Step 4 – Install OBS Studio
Once your server and website are ready, install OBS Studio. We will use it to set up the first live stream to test your live stream server.
Once the OBS Studio is installed, go to its settings, and insert the stream key of your live stream into OBS Studio. You can get this stream key from your player CMS too or from your server backend.
Step 5 – Ready to Go Live
Once you test it with OBS studios, you are now ready to start your first live stream. Now, to do so, go to OBS Studio, and start a live stream from your server.
Now click on Embed Stream, it will generate an Embed Link for your live stream. Copy that embed code and paste it over the HTML code of your website. Your live stream will start paying on your website!
Pros and Cons of Building Your Own Live Video Streaming Server
The above process has both pros and cons. Let’s discuss them one by one.
You will get full flexibility for the features. You can decide which features you want to add, and which ones you don’t want to add. So, it is completely your call.
Along with the server, if you embed your own branded player, it will immensely impact your brand value.
The biggest disadvantage of this process is that it is for hardcore developers only. And even if you are a hardcore developer, it might not be that easy for you, as a lot depend on the live-streaming platform you use or the number of viewers you want to cater to. So, your server structure and architecture will also change accordingly.
Also, we have not talked about the CDN yet. And if you do not use CDN, it might lead to latency in your live stream. Also, your server might be fragile initially, so your viewers might experience some buffering issues too! However, these issues will settle down with experience and further patch-ups.
Such servers often have scalability issues. You will have to struggle if the viewers are too many.
We have not integrated the DRM into it, so these servers are prone to security breaches and piracy.
Why Choosing A Live Streaming Solution is a Better Option
Now, if you are someone who is not so strong technically, or does not have the time or manpower to build and run your own live-streaming server, what else you can do?
You can choose a pre-built live streaming server and setup. We will tell you what choosing one such live-streaming server is a better option.
CDN – Lower Latency
First of all, most of these live-streaming servers come with a built-in CDN. And whenever you use a CDN, your latency decreases and scalability increases remarkably.
We will talk about the latency first. So, CDN is actually a network of proxy servers. When the viewer is far away from the actual server, the proxy server in a location near the viewer gets activated. Since now the content is getting streamed from the nearest server to the viewer, latency automatically reduces.
Scalability is another benefit of using a CDN. As all the proxy servers can support many viewers from across the globe, the maximum permissible number of concurrent viewers for your live streams increases many folds.
Most of the live streaming servers also offer built-in DRM security features, which help in keeping your videos safe and protect them from piracy.
Apart from these mentioned benefits, there are many other benefits too, that depend on your business needs.
Choose Muvi Live
If you are looking for a professional live streaming server that also offers you built-in CDN, multi-DRM security, your own branded player, and more, then Muvi Live is definitely the best choice for you.
Using Muvi Live, you can run recurring live events, record live streams and then reuse them as VOD, chat with your audience while live streaming using live chat, deliver live feeds using HLS outputs, and much more!
And the best part is, we do not charge anything upfront. You don’t have to buy any subscription, just sign up and start your live streaming right away! Afterward, you will be charged for only the features that you chose to use! You will always have complete flexibility on what to use and what not to use.
To Sum Up
A live streaming server plays a vital role in improving your streaming quality and the overall video experience of your viewers. You can take the help of pre-developed projects and projects like NGINIX that offer a lot of good SDKs to develop your own live-streaming server.
However, if you are looking for advanced features like multi-DRM security, and the flexibility and scalability of a CDN, then self-made servers might not be the right choice for you. Also, if you are not so fluent in technicalities, you might end up in a mess.
So, to ease out the process, you can try live-streaming servers and platforms like Muvi Live, that let you customize all your settings, including the player settings, without writing a single line of code! So, why wait? Sign up with Muvi Live today!
Q. What is a live streaming server?
Ans. A live streaming server is a type of video streaming server that is used to telecast live feeds.
Q. How does a live streaming server work?
Ans. Unlike other video streaming servers, a live streaming server does not store any pre-recorded data. Rather, it captures the encoded video feed from the live streaming software and distributes it to the CDN network, from which the end-users can access it in real time.
Q. What are the key components of a live streaming server?
Ans. Some of the key components of a live streaming server are:
Q. What are the hardware and software requirements for building a live streaming server?
Ans. Ans. Software Requirements:
A Video Player
Any PC running on Linux or Windows.
Q. How can I ensure a stable and high-quality live stream?
Ans. Using a multi-CDN cloud server network can help you in delivering stable and high-quality live streams.
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.