Social media streaming software like Facebook Live and Instagram Live provide a ready-to-use live streaming solution. Unfortunately, though, their features are often limited and may be frustrating to work with, especially for budding content creators looking to improve their content’s reach.
Whatever your streaming goals, we have some top software options for you. Here’s our rundown of the best streaming software available in 2021.
12 best streaming software options
1. OBS Studio [Best for beginners]
Open Broadcast Software Studio (OBS) is the official streaming service of Facebook and Twitch.
It was the first-ever streaming software on the market and remains one of the most popular platforms because of its intuitive features and high-quality audio and video.
OBS Studio is open-source software that can be used for both live streaming and recording. Free to use, it’s also highly customizable, making it suitable for advanced users looking to play around with the software.
- Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux
- Easy to learn, with a wizard to help you optimize your setup for streaming videos
- With multiple filters, you can use masking, chroma-keying, and color correction
- Allows you to check your sources and scenes in Studio Mode before you begin broadcasting
- Frequent software updates, which can be annoying when you’re busy doing something within the platform
- Streamers can only link to video files as sources, no audio options
Price: Free, although they accept donations.
2. Streamlabs OBS [Best for professional streamers]
Once you’ve got the hang of OBS Studio, you may want to level up to more advanced software that offers more features.
Streamlabs OBS is kind of like OBS’s elder brother––it’s from the same family, but more mature and with more features.
It has the same features as OBS Studio along with tons of other features that are harder to find elsewhere. With Streamlabs OBS, you’ll have access to alerts, customizable overlays, built-in-text-to-speech, and widgets like a viewer counter and chat box.
Its widgets like tip jars and sponsor banners make Streamlabs the go-to streaming software for content creators earning money from a YouTube channel or Facebook Live.
- Customize your streams using free themes with static or animated overlays
- Drag-and-drop elements with the intuitive layout editor to create a personal streaming software UI
- Livestream directly from your mobile device with the Streamlabs mobile app
- Quickly backup your recordings with the software’s in-built cloud backup
- No sound commands with the integrated chatbot—users will need to run the chatbot separately for sound commands
- Custom themes, widgets, and other features require more resources from your device
Price: Free. To access features like custom tip pages and paid sponsorships, you’ll need to pay for a Prime subscription. However, the price isn’t listed on their site.
3. OneStream [Best overall streaming software]
OneStream enables users to stream and record both live and pre-recorded videos to up to 40 platforms simultaneously.
With live streaming, you can also combine OneStream with other streaming tools, and begin multicasting. For instance, you could set up external streaming software like Zoom, Wirecast, or OBS and start sending your video stream directly to OneStream.
- Schedule live streams up to 60 days in advance
- Choose multiple file upload options—via files, camera, and screen shares, for example
- Enable multiple team members access to one account
- Complex configurations and advanced features can make the streaming platform challenging for some users
- There’s a 5GB limit when uploading videos from your own device.
Price: The Free plan enables unlimited live streaming, one social account, and one queued stream at a time. The Professional plan is $89/month and allows up to 50 social accounts, and 360-degree videos.
4. vMix [For Windows users]
vMix comes with solid features like OBS Studios but doesn’t come with the high price tag of solutions like Wirecast.
Its guest features make it easy to use for podcasts and guest interviews. All you need to do is send guests a link, and when they click on it they’re pulled onto your screen.
The best part is that featuring guests won’t compromise your audio or video quality, unlike with other software programs.
- Cool graphics features, including a professional set of 100+ animated titles, scoreboards, and tickers make for sleek video streams
- Multi-bitrate streaming for professional streamers who prioritize user experience
- Built-in titling tool automatically includes subtitles in your video streams
- Only available for Windows, but can be used on Mac if installed via Boot Camp
- Streams in low bitrate, which could be frustrating for users looking for top-quality video streams
Price: The Basic HD plan starts at $60/month and supports 4 inputs up to 3 camera/NDI and video up to Full HD 1920×1080 resolution. Plans steadily increase, with the Pro plan at $1200/month supporting 1,000 inputs.
5. Lightstream [Cloud-based streaming]
As a cloud-based streaming software, it’s easy to get started with Lightstream. All you need to do to access Lightstream is open your browser.
With a drag-and-drop editor featuring creative controls, projects, and scenes, Lightstream is intuitive to use.
Extensive third-party integrations for motion graphics, social media displays, and on-stream alerts help streamers boost audience engagement.
- Use your smartphone to stop and start your live stream—and even switch scenes—remotely
- All you need is an internet connection and a computer, no download necessary
- Easily invite guests remotely by sharing a link and opt to privately chat with guests if needed
- Users need a 5MB upload speed (which is pretty fast) to stream video content
- No templates or backgrounds available
Price: The Creator plan is $20/month and includes up to seven remote guests, and up to four RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) sources.
6. XSplit Broadcaster [Best for gamers]
XSplit Broadcaster works for both live streaming and recording. It’s built with professional content creators in mind who stream niche content like gaming.
You won’t be short of platform streaming options either. Native plugins enable streaming to popular platforms like YouTube and Facebook, while Custom RTMP allows users to stream to any platform.
- Add event lists, subscriber goals, tip cups, and follower alerts using the customizable editor
- Scene Preview Editor allows you to edit video scenes before live streaming them
- See the number of new followers, subscribers, cheers, and super chats using the live status display
- You may have to watch an ad before accessing some gated features
- Currently only available for Windows, but will also be available for Mac soon
Price: Pricing plans are organized according to the length of the license. A one-month license is $15, while a lifetime license is $200.
7. Restream [Best for engaging audiences]
Sometimes when you focus on live streaming to just one platform, the number of viewers can be lower than you’d hoped.
Restream’s performance insights can help you track audience stats along with video stream metrics.
If you’re just starting out, it can be hard to predict on which platform your content will perform the best. So why not stream to multiple platforms at once? Restream helps you do this.
- Stream to 30+ global platforms simultaneously, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, and Twitter
- Stream pre-recorded videos live and get insights into your live streams
- Enable audience interaction by inviting guests to your live stream and hosting interviews or Q&A sessions
- Even with paid plans, Restream logos are added to streams
- Free version has heavy limits—you can’t even live stream to a Facebook page
Price: The Standard plan is $16/month while the Professional plan is $41/month.
8. Livestorm [Best for entrepreneurs]
If you’re a solopreneur or startup founder looking to hold live product demos, tutorials, or Q&A sessions, Livestorm could be the best streaming software for you.
Its interactive features, integrations, and ability to create user-friendly landing pages make it a favorite with entrepreneurs interacting with customers.
As cloud-based software, all attendees need to do is click the webinar link and they’ll automatically join the session. This ease of joining webinars will increase attendance rates too.
- Integrate Livestorm with over 1000+ applications like Slack and Salesforce using the Zapier integration tool
- Get insightful data—number of attendees, email sign-ups, etc.—about your live streams with the analytics dashboard
- Interact with your audience using the chat tool and use the Q&A tab to answer audience questions
- Recorded webinar videos appear to be lower quality than live streams
- No slideshow upload option, which may be annoying if you’re doing a product demo or how-to tutorial
Price: The Free plan enables users to hold unlimited webinars of up to 20 minutes per session, with a limit of 10 attendees. The Premium plan is $109/month and allows up to 100 attendees per session, with a session limit of 4 hours.
9. Wirecast [Comprehensive streaming features]
Created by Telestream, Wirecast enables users to create TV-quality live stream productions and on-demand broadcasts.
Wirecast enables you to capture, produce and stream—all from one customizable user interface.
The software allows live streaming to any RTMP destination, giving users maximum flexibility regarding their choice of streaming platforms.
- Free access to a stock library with more than 500,000 media assets like videos, lower thirds, and music backgrounds
- High-res ISO recording
- Use clocks, scoreboards, replay, and timers while streaming live sports events
- Requires at least 4 GB of RAM and 2 GB of free disk space
- The software starts at $599, which is more expensive than its alternatives.
Price: Lifetime access to Wirecast Studio allows unlimited inputs and two remote guests. The plan costs $599 and includes a year’s subscription to the Insider Access Plan (normally $99), enabling free software upgrades and email support. Wirecast Pro is $799, includes all the Studio plan features, and allows seven remote guests.
10. Videolinq [Best integrated]
Videolinq is an alternative streaming software option for streaming to multiple social channels simultaneously.
The software makes it easy to start a stream from a webcam, source URL, or RTMP encoder.
Videolinq also integrates with streaming software like Teradek, Telestream, and AJA Video Systems.
- 1CapApp technology integration to generate real-time closed captioning on your live videos
- Monetize your content with third-party platforms like Google Ad Manager
- Works with all browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices
- Limited livestream options, unlike other platforms like Restream
- Multiple logins for different team members are only provided with higher end Premium and Enterprise plans
Price: A Basic plan is $49/month with a top-tier Enterprise plan costing $499/month. Or you can get the annual deal for $210 on AppSumo.
11. Streamyard [Simple web-based live streaming]
Streamyard is best for users who want to simply log in and start streaming immediately. Streamyard operates out of web browsers Chrome and Firefox, so there’s no need for a bulky download.
There’s no need for a laptop either––stream out of any device, tablet, phone, or desktop, so long as you can access Chrome.
- Stream directly to social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube
- Add CTAs to your live streams, and they will pop up alongside your live stream
- Add an interactive logo or name to enhance your brand presence in your streams
- No integrations, which will feel like a loss especially for advanced streamers
- No analytics or reports to evaluate how videos are performing with your audience from within the platform
Price: Free. Upgrade to a Basic plan at $20/month and eliminate Streamyard branding from your videos.
12. Vimeo best [For filmmakers and creators]
Vimeo was launched in 2004 by a group of filmmakers, as a way of easily sharing bulky videos with friends.
It quickly grew in popularity as a video on demand platform for creators, filmmakers, and designers. As live streaming becomes more mainstream, Vimeo has launched features enabling high-quality live broadcasting with videos auto-archived in up to 4K.
- Better understand your audience with metrics like where people are watching and on what devices
- Customize both your broadcasting experience and video player on the backend
- Automatically stream your videos in HD
- Live streaming capabilities are only available on Vimeo’s Premium plan at $75/month
- Video monetization costs begin at $1/subscriber which may be prohibitive to large-scale broadcasters looking to stream to hundreds of thousands of subscribers
Price: To access live streaming features, users must subscribe to the Premium plan at $75/month.
Which streaming software is best for you?
As with most software decisions, the right option for you depends on your budget, operating system, and which features are most important.
While you build your video streaming strategy, think about where you’re most likely to be streaming, which integrations are most helpful, and how much time you have to dedicate to learning each platform.
Don’t forget to check out the AppSumo store for all the latest software deals too.