With the rise of social media live streaming, you don’t have to worry about how much bandwidth you need. Bandwidth is, in a nutshell, all the data (audio and video) you will use to live stream. Platforms like Facebook, Periscope/Twitter and YouTube give you unlimited bandwidth, but you give up some freedoms to reap that reward. Changing algorithms, privacy, and issues with music copyrights can put you in “bot” jail. Bots are used to make sure you’re not breaking the rules set forth by the platforms. Which, hey, it’s their platform so they can do what they want.
Let’s say you’re doing a live stream for a company that likes their privacy and doesn’t want their event on a social media site. You will need to utilize a traditional content delivery network (CDN) to deliver your content to your audience. Unless you have an enterprise account that gives you unlimited bandwidth – which can carry a hefty monthly fee – you’re going to have to calculate the total bandwidth you’ll need to stream. When using a CDN that charges by the total bandwidth, there are a few factors you’re going to need to know to figure out the cost for your live stream data.
How many people are going to watch your live stream?
First, how many people are going to potentially watch your live stream? Next, how long will the event last? Finally, what bitrate are you using to live stream?
Bitrate is the amount of data to encode a single second of your video and audio. The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality. Conversely, the larger the file size and the lower the bitrate, the lower the quality and the smaller the file size. You have to find the right balance between quality and file size.
Most live streaming providers have calculators on their sites to help you figure out those numbers. Using https://www.easycalculation.com/other/live-streaming-bandwidth.php lets you figure the bandwidth for a live stream with 200 people watching for 3 hours at a bitrate of 2Mbps(2000 Kps), which is an output encoded at a resolution of 720p30.
Example of bandwidth calculator
That means you would need around 515 Gigabytes (GB) to stream that content to that size audience. Now you might not get 200 people watching the whole time, but if you do, you’re covered. The better your estimates are up front, the less you have to worry about getting a bill for overage charges later. Better safe than sorry!