How to Stream on YouTube: It's Time to Go Live

edited August 2023 in Lifestyle

In 2020, 96% of consumers increased the amount of video content they consumed, says a report from Wyzowl Research. Video content continues to be on the rise and, with it, live streaming. Even amongst diverse social media platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, and Snapchat, YouTube remains one of the top platforms for live streaming.  

What does it take to live stream on YouTube, and what do you need to get started? 

Here is your startup guide on how to stream on YouTube: 

What YouTube Streaming Is All About 

With live streaming, YouTube aims to support creators as they bring viewers together in real time to learn, discuss, and form new social communities. Whether you’re teaching a class, hosting a workshop, or showcasing an event, live streaming on YouTube is an easy way for you to communicate with your audience—now. 

Getting Ready to Live Stream on YouTube 

No matter what kind of content you want to deliver, there are four different ways you can live stream on YouTube:  

  • Web browser 
  • Mobile 
  • Software encoder 
  • Hardware encoder 

For beginners, the best options are either webcam or mobile. Both of these lend support to creators by helping them go live quickly.  

Encoder streaming, on the other hand, is more advanced. For example, creators might turn to software or hardware encoders if they want to share their screen, broadcast gameplay, connect to external audio or video hardware, or use multiple cameras and microphones. With more advanced features, encoder streaming may be a wise choice for those who really want to elevate their content so they can monetize their YouTube channel. 

What You Need to Live Stream on YouTube 

After choosing which method you want to use to live stream on YouTube, you’ll need to take some time to collect the gear you need. This includes: 

  • Webcam 
  • Ring light 
  • Green screen 
  • Microphone 
  • Audio interface 
  • Capture card 

How to Set Up Live Streaming on YouTube 

Ready to share your content?  

By default, live streaming is disabled on new YouTube channels, so you’ll have to make a few tweaks before you can get started. That said, YouTube makes it relatively easy to set up live streaming so you can start connecting with your audience as soon as possible.  

Before you go live, here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Verify your YouTube account 
  2. Enable live streaming on the features page (this requires phone verification) 
  3. Wait for live streaming to activate (usually fewer than 24 hours) 
  4. Start going live!  

That’s it—now you’ll be ready to start live streaming on YouTube via desktop or a streaming encoder. Note that to live stream on mobile, you need to have at least 50 subscribers to your channel. 

The 4 Ways to Live Stream on YouTube 

With four different ways to live stream on YouTube, the process is a little bit different depending on whether you’re using a web browser, mobile, a software encoder, or a hardware encoder. 

Web Browser 

This is the easiest way to live stream on YouTube. You can get started using a basic webcam that’s either built in to your computer or connected with a USB.  

Live streaming through a web browser is a good choice if all you need is a way to connect with your audience so you can share your thoughts and engage with them.  

Once you press End Stream, YouTube will automatically upload an on-demand version of your live stream to your channel so your viewers can watch it later on playback. 


Mobile is your best option if you want to live stream to connect with your audience spur of the moment. It’s also helpful if you need to be able to move around freely when you’re recording—a popular choice for recording YouTube shorts. But live streaming on mobile also comes with the most restrictions. 

First, you need to have at least 500 subscribers to live stream on mobile. Also, bear in mind that YouTube may opt to throttle the number of viewers to your streams if you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers. Recordings of your live streams on mobile will also be set to private by default—again, this will change once you pass the 1,000-subscriber mark. 

Software Encoder 

Encoder streaming is where things start to get more advanced.  

Live streaming with a software encoder is ideal if you want to share your screen with your audience, like during broadcast gameplay. It’s also a good choice if you want to access extra features, like live titling, overlays, or the use of multiple cameras.  

To get started live streaming on YouTube with a software encoder, first connect your capture card and your camera to your computer. Your streaming software should recognize your camera as a USB-video class device. The exact process will vary depending on your streaming software of choice—and you have many to pick from. Some popular options include Open Broadcaster Software, Xsplit, and Wirecast

Hardware Encoder 

A hardware encoder is an appliance that is specifically designed for video streaming, capturing, and recording. They help you save bandwidth and time by allowing you to compress and stream your videos more quickly.  

Live streaming on YouTube with a hardware encoder has several advantages over using a web browser or mobile.  

For one, it helps you manage more advanced live stream productions. With multiple inputs for video and professional audio, you can use a hardware encoder to connect and stream multiple HDMI/SDI cameras, laptops, tablets, and microphones. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses who need to shoot more high-stakes events, like concerts or sports games. 

Hardware encoders also provide more high-quality live streams than software encoders. While a hardware encoder is a dedicated device that’s designed especially for video streaming, software encoders have more to contend with, as they must share resources with the OS and any other processes that are working in the background. 

As with software encoders, you have ample choice when it comes to picking your hardware encoder for live streaming on YouTube, so make sure you do your research before getting started.  

YouTube streaming gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world to share new experiences—so don’t wait to go live!



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