The term “linear live streaming” or “live linear streaming” is used to denote streaming programs that air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where the audience can’t control what they want to watch. So, linear live streaming is similar to a 24/7 traditional live TV broadcasts, just delivered over the internet. 

Live linear streaming is a passive experience compared to today’s popular on-demand streaming where viewers can search, click, and switch between shows and events.  The viewers can switch between channels, but can’t fast-forward or reverse what’s being shown by a linear live streaming channel. 

What Is Linear Channel?

Linear channel refers to any video content that is delivered in a scheduled mode, which is the traditional television viewing. If a viewer wants to watch a specific show or event delivered by the linear channel, then the viewer must tune in to this channel at an appointed time. If he or she missed this window, then he can’t watch the show. 

Difference between OTT, VOD, and Linear TV?

OTT refers to Over-The-Top, which is any media content that is delivered over the internet rather than a traditional satellite, cable, and OTA (Over-The-Air) antenna services. The term OTT and VOD (Video On Demand) are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to note that OTT is not synonymous with VOD. 

VOD is the viewer’s ability to search and click any video content without being restricted by a linear broadcasting schedule or requiring the physical/digital copy of the content. Thus, watching a show on Netflix, for example, is a VOD experience delivered via OTT (regardless of the streaming device it is viewed on).

So, a linear TV channel is also an OTT content, since it’s distributed over the internet. It’s important to understand that OTT is a distribution model, while VOD and linear live streaming are consumption models

How To Create a Live Linear Channel

Prepare Your Equipment

In a live streaming channel, you can stream both live and pre-recorded content, but in most cases, you’ll need to have a live-streamed content to maintain engagement and interactivity. While the content production equipment can vary a lot depending on your needs, there are four core parts of your live streaming/recording equipment: 

1. Video/Audio Sources

Video sources refer to your cameras, video files on your computer, and other image and video sources. Audio sources can be microphones, music files, mixer feeds, and any other sources of sounds you can use in your stream. 

You might also need a mixer, switcher, or other mixing equipment if you use multiple audio and video sources. This will allow you to switch between the different sources especially during a  live broadcast. 

2. Encoder

An encoder compresses and translates video files into one seamless video file that is appropriate for live streaming. Video files from a standard camera is actually a collection of individual images, but a video encored will convert these images into one fluid video. A video encoder is essential in any live streaming activity so we can compress the files without compromising the quality. 

There are two different types of encoders to choose from: hardware and software. 

Hardware encoders, as the name suggests, are dedicated equipment designed solely to encode your video data into an appropriate, stream-friendly video file. Hardware encoders are usually more expensive but are typically more durable and reliable. For a 24/7 live linear streaming purpose, you might need at least one professional-quality hardware encoder. 

Software encoders, on the other hand, are software solutions that run on your computer or mobile devices. If you are planning to use software encoders, typically you’ll need another hardware like a capture card to connect your cameras to your computer (except if your camera is already internet-friendly). OBS Studio is a popular, free encoder that can be a great choice if you are just starting out, and we’d also recommend Wirecast and vMix. 

3. The Streaming Platform

A platform that hosts your linear channel. It’s very important to note that not all of the available video hosting platforms offer live linear streaming capabilities. Viloud is an affordable and reliable online TV channel software that offers both live linear streaming and VOD functions, so you can combine both types of content for your channel. 

In choosing a streaming platform, here are some important factors to consider: 

  • CDN capability:

Some streaming platforms offer cloud-based Content Delivery Network (CDN) capabilities, so your content will be delivered via the cloud by the nearest server to the viewer’s location. This allows you to deliver content at low latency, even when your own local network is currently lagging

  • Quality and reliability:

From server uptime to the ability to consistently deliver high-quality video with minimal latency

  • Security:

Don’t overlook the importance of your platform’s security. Your linear channel might be vulnerable to various cybersecurity threats from a DDoS attack to a data breach. Make sure to choose a platform that can provide an extra layer of security for your data and your customer’s privacy. 

4. Internet Connection

Since your live linear streaming channel is distributed OTT via the internet, then a stable and reliable internet connection is very important. This aspect will also include various equipment and software solutions to facilitate a stable internet connection (like your routers). 

Even if you use a CDN, a reliable internet connection can still make or break your live linear TV channel. The good news is, today’s standard cable bandwidth is typically sufficient for live streaming. 

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need an upload speed that is at least half the streaming bitrate of your stream. For example, if you are aiming for a 5 Mbps HD live stream, then your minimum internet upload speed should be 10Mbps with. 

Obviously, we have to take the advertised upload speed from your ISP with a grain of salt. Check your connection speed from time to time and make the upgrade or change your ISP if necessary. Remember, a good internet connection is essential for your linear live streaming success. 

End Words

Linear live streaming is now more accessible than ever, but at the same time, it’s now more competitive to start your own live linear channel, so ensuring the right quality for your audio and video is very important or your audience won’t stick around. 

Having the right platform to host your linear channel is already half the job done. So, if you haven’t already used any platform for your live streaming and video hosting needs, you can sign up for a free trial with Viloud today.