Livestreaming is here to stay. "Going live" has always been popular in niche circles, but now the concept permeates every major content platform — and if you're making content, you should consider its potential benefits to you. But should you multistream your feeds?
A lot of creators are building communities among their viewers on their chosen platforms. Twitch leads the field here, but YouTube and Facebook have put significant resources into upping their game. Reddit's own version of going live is very intriguing. Newer platforms like Sessions and OG platforms like YouNow are still kicking. And then you have platforms like TikTok and Instagram honing in on the live mobile market.
With all the opportunities to stream popping up, that begs the question: should content creators try to hone in on one platform or capture as many people in as many places as possible?
It's possible to do the latter with platforms like Restream, which allow you to send your single feed to more than 30 platforms all at once. But is that a good idea? Let's look at the pros and cons.
Pros of Multistreaming
Find Your Audience Where They Already Are
Your audience has never been more fragmented. It's just one of the unfortunate realities in a world where anybody can make a living from content. Most of your audience probably has their favorite platform they like to peruse before anything else. The same way a lot of people only subscribe to one premium music service (compared to video, where most households subscribe to multiple platforms like Netflix, Apple TV+, Hulu etc.).
Organic reach is already stilted on the platforms you're broadcasting. When you multistream, you have the potential to catch somebody on Facebook or YouTube who would never see you if you were only streaming elsewhere.
Data Is Key
Multistreaming to many of the biggest platforms at once gives you a great opportunity to figure out which platform might be best for you. Each of them have their own types of data after you stream and multistreaming allows you to run tests by streaming the exact same content at the exact same time and finding out where people are resonating most.
If you're just getting started, it might make sense to do a month or two of consistent multistreams in order to determine the best place for you to focus.
It's Getting Easier
Livestreaming in general is getting easier, thanks both to a swath of new affordable products aimed at the market and better software solutions. Restream is certainly the leader here, but there are other options that might fit your needs. Plus, new tools that allow you to monitor and display your different chat messages all in one place can help make an otherwise fragmented experience seem more intuitive, both for you as a streamer and for your audience on different platforms.
This type of experience is certainly best for less interactive streams — or at least ones where the interactivity is more related to questions and answers, as opposed to the viewers interacting with the stream via chat.
Cons of Multistreaming
Creating A Seamless Experience Is Hard
By far the biggest issue with multistreaming an interactive experience is that it takes an incredible amount of work to make the stream feel consistent across multiple platforms. And in many cases, you simply can't. Each platform has their own version of monetization and their own incentives for doing so.
For instance, somebody watching on Twitch may be able to use certain "emotes" in chat or create certain interactions on your stream by doing certain tasks or donating a certain amount. But that won't be the case if they're watching you on YouTube or Facebook, etc. While you can use plugins that allow everybody's chat message to appear on your stream in a uniform fashion, it's mostly just a bandaid.
At the end of the day, the streams that make the most money tend to be on a single platform. The last thing you want people to do is feel like they're left out of your stream because they aren't watching it where somebody else is.
It Costs More
To really unlock the best features of a platform like Restream, you have to pay for it. It also may cost more money to develop a uniform brand across your different platforms (especially if you pay somebody to help design assets for you).
Of course, you *should* pay for platforms that make your life and certain tasks easier. But if you're just dabbling, you'll need to pay at least $19 to try out the Standard version of Restream for one month. There is a free version (in case you want to play around with setting it up), but there are significant limitations — including not being able to send your stream to Facebook pages.
You Might Be Violating Agreements If You Do It
Some platforms, like Twitch, have agreements for people who make money from their platform. For instance, if you're an affiliate with Twitch (which means you earn money from ads, subscriptions, bits, and other types of on-platform monetization), you're technically not supposed to stream to other platforms at the same time.
You can, however, stream to other platforms at different times. But when you sign those "Terms and Conditions" to become a Twitch affiliate, you're agreeing not to multistream. Will it always be that way? Twitch hasn't made any indication that they're going to change it.
Does Twitch scour the Internet for people multistreaming? Doubtful. But you could lose your affiliate status if you do it. And that's not really worth it. And we certainly recommend you stay well within compliance of platforms that are enabling creators to make a lot more money than they used to.
But if you're not yet an affiliate and you just want to test the waters, you're fine multistreaming on Twitch and just about anywhere else at the same time.
So Who Is Multistreaming For?
If you're the type of creator who needs to casually broadcast every so often (like a special performance, announcement, or event), multistreaming can be a great option. A lot of brands also like to multistream simple because they want to catch as many eyes where they already are as they can.
If you're also just diving into the streaming world but already have a few platforms where people look at your content, multistreaming could be an interesting opportunity to figure out where people are most likely to watch you.
But if you're looking to create a serious community around live content, you're going to have to commit to a primary platform. Each has its pros and cons as well, which we cover in our free Blueprint, and which we'll continue to explore in future articles.