Webcasting, web conferencing, webinars, and virtual events are some of the common terms that are frequently used, especially during the pandemic. While most terms are used interchangeably, it is important to note that they are technically very different.
This blog will be useful while planning to set up an online event, as it breaks down the term webcasting and goes over some basic concepts on how it differs from other options.
What is Webcasting?
Webcasting is derived from two words—web and broadcasting. It can be thought of as a browser-based digital presentation featuring video streaming, live audio, and interactive elements such as a Q&A section.
What uniquely differentiates webcasting from web and video conferencing is that it is more of a one-way communication to a large audience. A good example is television stations. Television stations have a studio from which they capture and broadcast a production in real-time over the web.
Unlike webinars that involve more intimate audience participation, webcasts have limited interactivity.
How is a Webcast Created?
Whether pre-recorded or live, successful webcasts involve five aspects that may be customized based on each client and their branding requirements.
This is where the actual production takes place. It could be a studio or a well-designed venue with the correct production equipment. Quality cameras, sound, lighting, and stage effects are some of the core elements that define a high-end webcast. And, of course, all of these elements must be coupled with skilled operators.
Once captured, the videos, images, and sound are fed into a computer via interfacing components for processing.
Computers have specialized software for transforming audio and videos into a format that is best for live streaming. Currently, H.264 and ACC are some good examples of video codecs for live streaming.
Technicians share the encoded video to a streaming server. This could either be a private server or a public streaming server.
Multiple audiences can now access the stream from the server, by clicking on the event link to log in from their browser.
Advantages of Webcasting
As mentioned earlier, webcasts are designed to support multiple remote attendees. Multiple implying up to thousands, depending on the capacity of the platform being used. This makes them ideal for public events expecting an indefinite number of attendees.
Quality of experience
Webcasts are implemented by professionals from end to end. That ranges from the production equipment, through processing, to streaming.
Allows audience participation
Viewers can interact with presenters and fellow attendees through the Q&A section in real-time. This could even include online polling depending on the functionalities supported on your front-end.
Potential Challenges of Webcasting
Due to the potential for a large audience, engaging each attendee at a personal level is impossible. Presenters must therefore select a few common questions, similar to an Annual General Meeting broadcast.
Not ideal for small businesses
Webcasting is uneconomical for online meet-ups involving a few participants. Video conferencing or Web conferencing could be a better alternative.
Taking it up a Notch with Webcasting
If you are planning to set up a virtual event with a potentially high number of participants, webcasting should be on your agenda. However, as mentioned, quality equipment and skilled personnel play an integral part in the success of any webcast. This is why it is crucial to take the time to choose professional webcast producers in order to get the best results.