Instagram just announced they're rolling out limited testing of using Live Producer for the platform. What does this mean? Well, it means that if you know how to use OBS to make your livestreams *way* more interesting, you may soon be able to use it to go live on Instagram from your desktop computer.
Which basically means Instagram would suddenly become a very compelling livestreaming platform for certain creators. Facebook currently uses Live Producer for streamers who want to go live on Facebook via their desktop, but Instagram getting access to the service opens up a whole new segment of users.
Before we go further, it's important to note that Instagram Live Producer is still only available to a small number of beta users. Kind of like TikTok. And it's not guaranteed everybody will get access. Kind of like TikTok. But still, we should talk about what it could mean.
Why Instagram Is Currently A Terrible Platform For Livestreams
Instagram is, quite simply, not a good place to do livestreams if you have any hope of using the feature to build an audience or earn money. A lot of people turned to Instagram during the pandemic to try and put on live performances, but the platform is just not built for it.
And two years later, not a lot has changed. Sure, there are slightly more opportunities for collaborating (by "inviting" people in to your stream) and some limited monetization options. But it's still clunky, there are still stream limits, chatting still has limited functionality, and worst of all, you still have to rely entirely on what you can do on your phone.
Put simply, anybody who was serious about livestreaming did not keep doing it on Instagram. They turned to platforms like Twitch, YouTube, or even Facebook.
What Makes OBS So Great
Open Broadcaster Software, known universally as just "OBS," is one of the most-used pieces of software for producing high quality livestreams. It's free and accessible to anybody, and in the simplest terms, it allows you to do just about anything you want — often with the help of other free and paid plugins.
While it takes a little time to figure out how OBS works, once you do the possibilities are pretty much endless. From something as simple as bringing in high quality audio and running multiple cameras to creating immersive chat-based reactions with multiple scenes and setups, OBS really allows you to essentially produce your own live show.
Even in a vertical format like Instagram, OBS provides you with way more opportunities to create a compelling show. While Instagram Live Producer will reportedly support multiple types of streaming software (many of which are based off the original OBS source code), there's no doubt that most sophisticated streamers will be using OBS to go live on Instagram from their desktop computers.
How Instagram Live Producer Could Make Livestreaming On Instagram Worth It
The best thing about using OBS to stream is it allows you to create significantly higher quality streams. So if you're a musician, you can use professional sound equipment. If you're a YouTuber, you can do things like run captions, set up multiple angles, or show video from something other than your camera (like a screen share of a website etc.).
You're also going to be able to stream in a regular 16:9 format (instead of Instagram's traditional 9:16 vertical format). This doesn't necessarily equate to a better viewing experience, but it does mean it's possible to multistream to lots of different places at once.
And of course, this means that if you've built a fairly large following on Instagram, you have a better chance of putting on compelling streams that reach your audience. Quite frankly, you're just more likely to enjoy streaming when you have more control and a higher quality stream.
Potential Drawbacks of Instagram Live Producer
The most obvious drawback of Instagram Live Producer right now is we don't actually know if or when everybody will get to use it. But assuming everybody gets a shot to use it, there are still a few potential issues.
For one, it can still only support 720p quality at a recommended 30 frames per second. If those words mean nothing to you, just interpret it is "the quality isn't as high as you might expect."
If you'd like to use 60 frames per second you can, but the Instagram Live Producer window will still display 30 frames. They're apparently trying to figure out how to fix this. It's kind of a minimal issue since most people monitory directly from OBS anyways.
As far as we can tell, streams still have a 4-hour time limit, too. So while that should be plenty of time for a lot of people, it rules out doing longer events or marathon streams. A lot of gamers stream for longer than 4 hours at any given time.
And then of course there's the fact that we still don't know if the Instagram audience is that interested in high quality streams. We'd like to believe they are — TikTok live is certainly growing, even as attention spans are shrinking. But at the end of the day, any opportunity to reach your audience is welcomed, and for people with experience using OBS, Instagram Live Producer just may make it worthwhile to give the platform's live feature a legitimate chance.