How to Live Stream to Multiple Destinations
This is an incredibly powerful feature. For example, say you were planning a live interview of a candidate for a political office. Using Stream Share, you could distribute the stream to all Facebook pages of all organisations in the state, or even the country, so long as they gave you permission. This would be impossible for most organisations without a service like Switchboard Live.
4. Create workflow templates. I’ll use two workflows for this event: one for Facebook Live, the second for all other services. The easiest way to do this is to create a template for Facebook Live, then duplicate the template and rename as needed.
I’m creating the template in Figure 5, inserting the title, description, tags, and similar content. This text and metadata will be injected into the similar fields supported by most live streaming services. Once I create the first template, I click the Duplicate icon on the upper right (next to the + sign), then make any changes and save the second template.
Figure 5. Creating the template for Streaming Media East
Note that you don’t need to create a template; you could enter all this information directly into the workflow. It’s just easier for repetitive use with the template.
5. Create workflows and configure destinations. Every stream has its own workflow, but in this case I’ll only configure two: one for all Facebook Live accounts, the second for all other accounts. I’ll do this and a lot more in the screen shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Choosing and configuring destinations
Once I click into this screen, I choose the stream source via the drop-down list shown on the upper left, which currently reads “Facebook Outputs.” This is the Stream Link source shown on the extreme right in Figure 2.
I add destinations by clicking the Add Destination button shown below the three Facebook outputs. As you can see, I’ve configured the three accounts so that the Streaming Media account gets the full source quality, while the other two only get 360p. You access these configuration options by clicking the checkbox on the right of each preset, which also gives you access to controls for uploading and applying a watermark to the video, which is useful when distributing your video to third-party sites.
As you can see, you can create groups of destination sites, which would simplify group operation. For example, you might want to configure sites by time zone so you can enable and disable them as a group. During the event, this is the screen you’ll use to switch the source from the sessions to the interviews, using the drop-down list on the lower left (currently showing “Interviews”).
6. Start streaming and monitoring. You start the live stream via the slider on the right of each destination, either individually or as a group. Once the stream is live, you can click the Info button on each destination to open an info screen with session details like the number of viewers, outbound bandwidth, and the like. You can also access Facebook Insights, which provides the details shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7. Here are the Facebook Insights for the VA9th page.
Or, you can click the icon for each service as shown on Figure 6, and open the viewing page for the service. Figure 8 shows the Facebook page for the project, and by using the template and workflow, all the text shown will be consistent from service to service.
Figure 8. The Facebook Live player on the Streaming Learning Center Facebook page
Note that Figure 7 is the page your viewers will see, not the live streaming control page you can access when streaming directly via Facebook Live or other accounts. Currently, there is no centralised access to inputs from all sites that you’re broadcasting to, or even access to the broadcast page of some services.
For example, with Facebook Live, you can’t get to the live streaming control screen unless you originate the stream from Facebook Live or some other products like Wowza ClearCaster. You can’t get there from Switchboard. However, you can get to the YouTube Live control page, but not through Switchboard; you have to navigate there manually. You can interact with your Facebook viewers via your Facebook page, but you don’t get the detailed video performance statistics you get when broadcasting directly from Facebook Live.
7. Analyse your results. Switchboard doesn’t offer consolidated results with any of packages discussed above, forcing most viewers to review stats from each individual viewing site. Switch does offer a for-fee analysis with the consolidated numbers shown in Figure 9, along with individual results from all viewing sites. This costs $2,500.
Figure 9. Consolidated reporting is available for $2,500.
According to the officials I spoke with, Switchboard plans to add additional customer-accessible analytics over the next few months.
Briefly, Switchboard Cloud has three plans, Professional ($75 per user/month), Business ($150), and Enterprise ($300). Plans differ regarding the number of destinations and workflows, along with customer service options and other features.
In some ways, particularly analytics and centralised control options, Switchboard Cloud is a work in progress. However, for organisations, corporations, and agencies that need to reach multiple internal and third-party distribution points for their live videos, it’s a marvellously enabling technology that works just fine today.
[This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Streaming Media European Edition.]
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