Exploring the Difference Between Enterprise Web Conferencing & Streaming (Webcasting)
The line between web conferencing and webcasting used to be somewhat faint, but in recent years, with advancements in both of these areas, the differences appear to be less clearly defined than ever. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably, in spite of some major differences.
In either case, you’re generally attempting to achieve a similar goal (communication with employees in other locations), but, perhaps, at different levels of quality. You’ll also consider the size of your audience, and, in most cases, the budget will be an important part of the discussion as to whether a business will use a webcasting or web conferencing model.
Let’s break it down a little bit further, and see how the two models differ from each other.
With conferencing, the audience is typically an interactive one. In this case, you’ll want multi-direction audio, and, in some cases, the same for video. The ability to share slides, apps, and a user’s desktop is desirable.
Web conferencing is typically used for meetings with remote employees, as well as for demos and training.
The most important part is that the conference is done LIVE. In some cases, you’ll want to record the conference so that it can be archived and viewed later by employees who were not able to attend, or for training purposes. That said, web conferencing solutions will not come with a web portal for end users to easily search and find the recordings that they’re looking for.
The quality of the web conference is something that is important, but will often be of less importance in this case than when using a webcasting model. The biggest goal is interaction.
With web conferencing, you’re generally looking at a much smaller audience than if you were to use a webcasting model. Here’s what that will look like in most cases.
- 2-10s of connections
- Typically more localized
- Conferencing with a customer/client
- “Good enough”
- Conferences can sometimes fail. “Sorry, let’s try again later.”
- Whatever is free/least expensive
Although we’d all love to get high-quality from our web conferencing tools, the reality is that when using a free, or very inexpensive service, there will be delays, digital fallout, and interruptions in service. That said, there are some good providers of web conferencing tools.
The main difference between web conferencing and webcasting is that, with the web conferencing model, you’re trying to achieve a kind of face-to-face meeting that might take place from multiple sources; with webcasting, you’re streaming a presentation over the internet from one source to many different sources. You can also webcast live or on demand. In essence, you’re “broadcasting” over the internet.
Quality makes a difference with webcasting
With a webcast, quality is of the utmost importance. While we seem to have patience with web conferencing tools that deliver very low quality video and audio, in a webcasting model, the video has to be broadcast in high quality. Low-quality webcasting is just no longer an option. And it has to work every time. There is no “let’s try again later” in this instance.
For example, the best you’ll get out of a web conference is a maximum resolution of 640×480 when viewing the speaker. Webcasting software, on the other hand, allows presenters to stream in broadcast quality — up to 1080p at 60fps.
The same principle, of course, applies to web conference recording quality. Most web conference recordings will only include audio and the content displayed by the presenter on their screen. The advantage of webcasting software is that you can record audio and video content, and record each of those streams in HD-quality 720p or 1080p.
How big is your audience?
The size of the audience is also a consideration in webcasting. Whereas in a web conferencing situation you’d have just a few people involved, webcasting allows you to stream video to 10s or 10,000s of people in a scalable manner. And it doesn’t matter where they are. As long as they have access to the internet, they can view a webcast. And they must be able to access that webcast on whatever device they want to use, be that their laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone. It’s definitely something to consider when researching a potential system.
In many cases, your webcasting will be a part of a larger enterprise video platform. An enterprise video platform will allow you to:
- Broadcast and record high-quality video that can be viewed anywhere on any type of device
- Manage all your video assets in a centralized location and grant or restrict access to employees with a simple permissions system
- Input metadata into your videos so that employees can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily
- View statistics on video usage and use the information to analyze results and inform future strategy
- White labeling, in which a business controls the branding and aspects of the look and feel of the interface
These are just a few aspects of a complete enterprise video platform, but they are essential, especially when webcasting is an essential aspect of your system.
Do you need a web conferencing or webcasting solution?
The fact is, you may need both. But that being the case, you’ll get much better results with a webcasting tool, should any of the above points fit your list of requirements, instead of trying to shoehorn the whole operation into a web conferencing tool.
The considerations towards quality alone are massive, and the benefits of a webcasting software solution can be measured on a daily basis. What you do with it, and how you develop and disseminate your content is up to you, but you get to fill in a lot more blanks off of your checklist with the right webcasting tool.