4 Benefits (And 1 Big Challenge) of Streaming Live on YouTube

By Megan O'Neill 

Thanks to the massive success of live streaming campaigns like Red Bull’s stream of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space last year, NASA’s Curiosity Mars landing and the summer Olympics, as well as the increased use of Google’s ‘Hangouts on Air’, more and more brands are beginning to think about live streaming and how they can incorporate it into their online video strategy.  I spoke with Bern Rexer of MXPI, a thirteen-year veteran of live television and live streaming production, to find out more about how live streaming works on YouTube, as well as some of the benefits and challenges of the medium.

Rexer explained that, “YouTube live streaming is available to various partners and non-profits—it is not available to everyone.”  However, if your channel is authorized for live streaming or you are open to working with a third-party channel that is authorized for live streaming, Rexer says that going live on YouTube, if done correctly, can be hugely beneficial.

Rexer laid out four benefits—and one big challenge—of streaming live on YouTube.

The Benefits

One-Take Production

Rexer says, “Live events can be produced easily in one take.”  When you go live, everything happens in real time – there’s no post-production or editing required.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of pre-production planning and setup required, but because the event is live, once the live stream is over you’re left with a fully produced video that, ideally, can and should be made available as an archived, on demand file.


Live events foster engagement more so than on demand events.  When a large group of people is watching a live stream concurrently, it is a far more social experience than when they watch an on demand video on their own time.

“Social connections and interaction during a live event are very attainable and extremely valuable,” Rexer told me.  “The audience is connected by the event itself.  The live event, whether it’s a concert, a rally, an expo, a product launch or a news conference, is the one commonality that the entire audience shares and can talk about.”

Live Monitoring

The other thing that’s great about live events is that producers can monitor engagement and social conversation in real time.  Rexer explains that, because producers are able to monitor this engagement and social conversation in real time, they can tell whether or not their intended message is being received and, if it isn’t, they can change that messaged based on the cues they are receiving from their engaged audience.

Attainable and Affordable

Finally, Rexer explains that “live broadcasting has never been more attainable than now in regards to price and available technology and acceptance.  Ten years ago it cost a lot more money to stream live.  Twenty years ago only high end productions were able to broadcast live to the masses.”  Today, going live is easier than it’s ever been before and, Rexer says, “this is why we are seeing so much live content online today.”

The Challenge

Of course, all of these benefits don’t come without a big challenge.  In order for live streaming to be truly beneficial you need a good number of viewers and, because live streaming happens in-the-moment and, usually, only for a matter of hours, it can be difficult getting eyeballs.

For this reason, Rexer says that “live event production planning is equally important pre-event, live-event and post-event.”  Before you go live, put lots of effort into letting people know that the event is going to take place, when it’s going to take place and where viewers can tune in.  The same goes for during the live event—continue to promote to let people know that the event is streaming live now and that they should tune in.  Once the event is over and the video archive of the event is over, you should promote that too for folks that weren’t able to tune in.  If they see and like it after the fact, they’ll be more likely to tune in to your next live event.