Audio & Video, Internet, Top Lists

Top 5 Best Free Live Streaming Sites (2018)

Streaming media or live streaming is something that has become much more popular in the past 5 years or so. People and companies stream everything from news and entertainment, to gaming and people just talking and interacting with their audience.

Today we’re going to be looking at the top 5 best free sites for livestreaming, whether you’re a streamer or a viewer, and we’ll be taking a peek at the monetization opportunities for some of these platforms.

# Name Category Monetization Mobile Broadcasting Mobile Watching Stream Archive
1 YouTube General & gaming Ads, SuperChat, promotions, tips Yes Yes Yes
2 Twitch Gaming Ads, subscriptions, tips Coming soon Yes Yes
3 Periscope Politics, activism, talk Promotions, tips Yes Yes Yes
4 Facebook General & talk Promotions, tips Yes Yes Yes
5 Smashcast Gaming Promotions, tips No Yes Yes

 

#1 YouTube

YouTube Best Free Live Streaming Site

First off we have the website you’re most likely watching this video from, Google’s YouTube. YouTube is already the most popular video streaming website in the world.

However live streaming on YouTube has only seen significant growth in the past year or two. The reason for this is because the money making opportunities such as viewer donations and paid subscriptions just didn’t exist on YouTube until recently.

In the beginning of 2017 YouTube introduced a feature called SuperChat. This feature allows viewers to support their creators through buying highlighted comments. These comments are more easily visible to creators, allowing them to better interact with buyers during a stream. This feature is not yet available in all countries, but YouTube is constantly expanding its availability. However this is the type of feature that will surely grow live streaming on YouTube.

YouTube does also save your streams to your channel once they’re finished, so you have a video archive of all your streams. Both streaming and watching are also possible from the YouTube mobile app.

You can really watch anything and everything in terms of live streaming on YouTube. There’s news, sports, politics, gaming, live videos from space, live videos of animals in the zoo. Just anything that makes any sense to stream. However, YouTube does also have a dedicated section for gaming, called YouTube Gaming.

For general streams, I’d say YouTube is the best free live streaming site. But for specific categories there are some better and more popular options out there.

YouTube Homepage

 

#2 Twitch

Twitch

Next up we have Twitch, which is currently owned by Amazon. Twitch is the original video game live streaming website and still the most popular in that category. Yes, even more popular than YouTube.

Twitch was launched in 2011 as a spin-off of the general streaming website Justin.tv. It focused on live streaming video games and eSports events. By 2013 Twitch had grown to over 45 million unique viewers and in 2015 it had more than doubled to 100 million.

Right now the three most popular games streamed on Twitch are League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. However Twitch also has a Creative category where people stream things like stand-up comedy, painting, music and cooking. Twitch does also have the capability to save streams in a video archive. Twitch has announced that they are developing mobile streaming for their app. But as of the publishing of this video, the mobile streaming feature is not active.

Previously streamers could become Twitch partners if they have an average viewership of over 500 people. Today the rules are a bit more vague, but active viewership is still the most important factor. If streamers are coming to Twitch from YouTube they should have over 15,000 views per video on average and over 100,000 subscribers. Partnership allows streamers to make money from ad placements and also have paid subscriptions. Subscriptions give viewers some perks like emoticons, private chats and other such things. However one of the most popular revenue streams is viewer donations, which can be sent through Paypal. There are some sites and apps that allow donations to pop up on your stream.

The bar for making money is a bit higher on Twitch compared to YouTube. However the audience when it comes to gaming is for the time being larger than on YouTube or any other streaming site. So Twitch is a very good choice for gaming streamers.

Twitch Homepage

 

#3 Periscope

Periscope

Then there’s Periscope, which is owned by Twitter. Periscope is a live streaming mobile app, which also has a website. So you can stream Scopes as they’re called, on your PC. The app is somewhat focused on current events and activism. But there’s also a lot of people who just stream themselves talking and interacting with their viewers.

Periscope was launched in 2015 and acquired by Twitter before the launch. But the idea came up in 2013 when the creators were traveling abroad in Turkey. They were inspired to make the app by the Taksim Square protests in Istanbul.

The app is quite popular all over the world including the United States. But it seems to be particularly popular in Turkey, Russia and some arab countries.

Streaming on the Periscope app is quite easy with your smartphone. But a bit more complicated if you want to set up a stream from your computer or other camera sources. However it is indeed possible to do it. You can choose to save your streams, or have them immediately deleted from your archive when you stop streaming.

Currently there are no integrated monetization opportunities for Periscope for the average user. However I have seen some people make money on Periscope by selling paintings and art. There’s also a lot of women and cam girls seem to promote themselves on Periscope. They offer private chats in return for Paypal donations. That’s a bit weird, but who am I to judge.

If you want to stream yourself talking and hanging out, or if you’re an activist of some sort, or doing something regarding politics and current events, then Periscope is a decent platform.

Periscope Homepage

 

#4 Facebook

Facebook

Next we have Facebook, which also has a live streaming option. You can stream from both your computer and smartphone.

Facebook has a similar live map as the Periscope app where you can search for live streams.

There are no integrated monetization opportunities, at least not for regular people. However as a streamer if you have a large Facebook following, then there could be some opportunities. You could simply use your following to make money the old fashioned way by promoting your products or services. Or get paid by someone else to promote theirs.

But to be honest, I have not used Facebook Live that much. In terms of the content it seems a bit like a mix of YouTube and Periscope. There are some news and sports streams, and a lot of people streaming their random stuff.

Still, I think YouTube and Periscope are better options than Facebook in general, especially as a viewer.

Facebook Homepage

 

#5 Smashcast

Smashcast

Finally we have Smashcast, which is probably the least popular of this list. It’s the result of a merger between the two former live streaming sites Azubu and Hitbox.tv.

Smashcast is focused around gaming and eSports, and seems to mainly have a US audience because the site is pretty dead during European time zones.

It seems to work a lot like Twitch. You can live stream and save your streams to a video archive. It also has a mobile app for watching streams, but the app has no broadcasting capability.

Smashcast doesn’t really seem to have found its niche. Honestly I will be surprised if its still around in a year or two. But I thought I should give it a mention anyway.

Smashcast Homepage

 

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