4 Powerful Software Options for Live Streaming

By Rachel Kiley

Gamer looking at a screen
Photo credit: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock

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Some people think live streaming is as simple as navigating to the platform you want to broadcast from and turning on your webcam. In some instances, this may be true. But if live streaming is something you plan to do as a regular hobby, or especially for money, then you’re most likely going to want to look into setting up some software to get the most out of your live streams and keep things professional in the process.

Finding a live streaming software that works well for you may require some trial and error. But to get you started, we’ve looked into some of the most popular options on the market today used by gamers, influencers, and other online professionals and pulled together four of the best.

1) Streamlabs

If you’re new to live streaming, or even just to live streaming software, Streamlabs is a great place to start — especially if you’re hoping to monetize your broadcasts. The interface is user-friendly and the software itself is intuitive despite the broad number of features offered. This browser-based service is compatible with all the major platforms and allows users to stream to multiple platforms at once.

Streamlabs offers a slew of overlays, audio filters, and social widgets, as well as apps to help you enhance and customize your streams. There are tipping tools for monetization and top-notch support including a 24/7 Discord channel devoted to troubleshooting.

Better yet, Streamlabs is free to use, although there is an upgrade option for $19 a month when you need to branch out into some of the more advanced features.

2) Wirecast

Wirecast is aimed at the real pros in the game with advanced needs when it comes to live streaming. This software boasts the ability to capture multiple live inputs simultaneously, as well as live switching and streaming to various platforms at once.

Virtual sets, green screen, instant replay, and shot composition that allows for up to 250 layers are some of the particularly advanced features Wirecast offers, along with a slew of audio effects, graphics, and other media assets. With everything it offers, it’s no surprise that this software isn’t the most beginner-friendly, and it can take some time to figure out how to use it to its full potential.

On top of that, the price tag reflects the professional quality and will set you back $599 for Wirecast Studio or $799 for Wirecast Pro, although the latter also offers a monthly subscription option instead. Priority support is also available for an additional $299 per year, making it clear this software is aimed at true professionals. But if you want to check out all it has to offer without emptying your bank account, there is a free trial.

3) Restream

The focus with Restream is all about streaming to multiple platforms at once. If that’s the most important thing to you, this software might be the one to make it happen. You can go live right from your browser, invite guest participants, or even broadcast pre-recorded videos as live streams.

Restream also offers a bunch of tools to assess audience engagement so you can figure out what’s working and what’s not. The downside is it may not have as many features as some of the other options available, but you can actually use it in conjunction with other streaming software to get the best of both worlds.

There’s a basic free version with limitations, while a Standard plan currently runs $16/mo and a Professional plan clocks in at $41/mo, although both offer annual subscriptions at a slight discount.

4) XSplit

XSplit is a fairly simple but powerful live streaming tool that can bridge the gap between live streaming for fun and live streaming in a more professional environment. Streaming to multiple platforms, recording videos, and switching out the background while you stream are some of the basic but extremely useful features XSplit has to offer. You can also use your phone as a webcam thanks to the XSplit Connect app.

This software may take a little getting used to, but you can try out the free version (which includes a watermark on your videos) to give it a test run. From there, XSplit Broadcaster alone will set you back $120 a year, or $138 when bundled with their VCam Premium app. It’s also worth noting that XSplit Broadcaster isn’t currently compatible with Mac computers, although a version is said to be in the works.

Final Thoughts

Streamlabs or XSplit will likely be the best choice for most people looking to start out with new live streaming software, depending on your preference when it comes to user interface and budget. Pairing Restream with either is an ideal option for anyone planning to stream to multiple platforms at once. Meanwhile, Wirecast’s capabilities would be helpful once you need something more powerful.

Whichever live streaming software you choose, before committing, don’t forget to double-check that it’s compatible both with your computer’s operating system and with the platform or platforms you intend to broadcast from.

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