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What is Webcasting?

A Webcast is a broadcast over the Internet. The term webcasting is a derivation of the term "broadcasting" meaning that the Internet is used as the medium to transmit signals from source to destination.

A Webcast broadcasts a message (also called "content") from one location to many Internet viewers. These viewers receive the broadcast on personal computers, tablets or smart phones. Webcasts generally include live video and audio. Audio only webcasts are commonly called "Audiocasts."

Webcasting is the technical process of creating and delivering the IP broadcast to Internet or Local Area Network (LAN)-based viewers. Viewers use tools called "players" that decode webcasts and play them on their personal device such as a computer or tablet. Webcasting includes encoding video and audio into a number of different formats and then transmitting them (i.e., broadcasting them) over the Internet to various players. The individual broadcasts that travel from the broadcast encoding location to the player window on each viewer's personal device are called "streams". Webcasting is often called "streaming" and the term "stream" is sometimes used to refer to a webcast. All describe broadcasts from a source to a player over an IP network.

To clarify further: Webcasting is generally defined as live Internet or LAN broadcasting where the source content is encoded in formats that can be transmitted over the Internet (or over a LAN) and decoded by software players. The term "Webcasting" is considered as a real time and live activity. Webcasting is also called Streaming or Live Streaming. All refer to the same set of activities in which video and audio are captured, encoded and transmitted (or streamed) to an audience that uses players to view the broadcast. Additional options for Webcasts include captioning, a participant chat log, and the inclusion of telephone participants who may not have access to a CPU.

Common examples of players that decode streams and present them in a viewer window are: Apple QuickTime, Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player and Microsoft Silverlight. Each of these software tools is capable of receiving an encoded stream, which it then decodes and plays in a window for the viewer.

Advantages of Webcasting

Webcasting (also called: Live Streaming or Streaming) can reach viewers and listeners on their computers, tablets or smart phones simultaneously. Webcasting live video and audio can deliver a message either locally, on a LAN, or globally over the Internet. Webcasts can be archived for later viewing as Video-On-Demand content which can significantly extend their value.

The key advantage of webcasting is the ability to broadcast a message widely with limited cost per viewer. As a result, webcasting is commonly used to reach widely distributed, and even global audiences.

Disadvantages of Webcasting

Webcasting requires planning in order to deliver a good level of quality to media players that may reside on a number of different user devices. PC's, Mac's, tablets, and Smart Phones can all require different formats to play content properly and therefore a webcast can be difficult to produce well without adequate planning.

Audience members may require assistance using their tablet or smart phone to "play" the webcast. As such, it is not possible to ensure that a webcast viewer actually sees and hears everything that is broadcast during the webcast event.

There is often great confusion about what a webcast is and, in particular, what Webcasting is. Webcasting, sometimes called Web Casting, is required to create an IP broadcast that can reach viewer players. The tools and processes to create a webcast can be complex and misconfiguration of a webcast can compromise the ability of some players to display the broadcast.

How do I get started with Webcasting?

For commercial webcasting support we recommend engaging a service provider with experience managing both events and, specifically, webcasting events. TKO VideoConferencing can provide all the required services from planning through delivery of your webcasting event.

Webcasting for personal use is best provided by the Google Inc. YouTube services. Additional areas to research for personal webcasting tools should include, the Adobe Flash Encoding and streaming products and also Apple's QuickTime encoding and streaming products.

What does Webcasting cost?

Live Webcasting for commercial business use is priced per hour. One hour of live webcasting costs $2,500 USD to $5,000 USD. Additional hours of webcasting cost $500 to $1,500 USD per hour.

Important factors that affect Webcasting costs include:

  • View registration which may include conditional password access
  • Starting page special requirements and layout
  • Number of encoding formats needed [which players does the live webcast need to support]
  • Presentation of slides or other materials simultaneously with the live webcast
  • Duration of the webcast testing and live event itself
  • Storage and archival of webcast content into Video-On-Demand files

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