Create a live stream with an encoder

There are three ways to stream on YouTube: use a webcam, your mobile device, or an encoder. Using an encoder lets you:

  • Share your screen or broadcast your gameplay
  • Use external audio and video hardware
  • Manage an advanced production (like multiple cameras and microphones)

Follow the steps below to get started with your first live stream.
Introducing Live Control Room - for Live Streaming


1. Enable live streaming

Enabling a live stream for the first time may take up to 24 hours. Once enabled, your stream can go live instantly. Learn how to enable live streaming.

2. Install an encoder

An encoder converts your content into a digital format to stream on YouTube. Some encoders are software applications on your computer, while others are stand-alone hardware. 

Here’s a list of YouTube Live verified encoders. None of these products are made by YouTube. Make sure to evaluate the products and decide which option makes the most sense for you or your business.

Software encoders

Open Broadcaster Software

A free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. 

Stage Ten

Use the power of a live production studio and control room in a simple web application designed to reduce the complexity of social broadcasting and help you transform your YouTube page into a social TV channel.

Streamlabs OBS
Windows, iOS, Android

Streamlabs OBS is the leading broadcast software for streamers. It's free, open-source, and packed with powerful features to help you grow, engage, and monetize.

XSplit Broadcaster
Windows (Free version available!)

Revolutionary audio/video mixing application that allows you to create professional live broadcasts and video recordings.

XSplit Gamecaster
Windows (Free version available!)

The easiest way to stream and record your greatest gaming moments at the click of a button. Perfect for sharing your gameplay.

Windows, Mac

Easy-to-use, award-winning live streaming and production software. Add cameras, live screenshots, titles, graphics, and more with just a click of a button and click-and-drag to reposition and resize. Stream directly to YouTube or any RTMP destination. Works with the YouTube API so you can manage, create, and schedule your live events or stream your live channel without leaving the app.

Hardware encoders

Windows, Mac

Mirror your mobile device or computer to YouTube.

Elgato Game Capture HD60
Windows, Mac

Record and stream your Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii U gameplay.

Epiphan Webcaster X2
Any HDMI device

Create professional live streams from your HDMI camera, mixer, console, or other device with this compact hardware encoder. Connect your USB camera for live switching and picture in picture layouts.

LiveU Solo

A video encoding device that offers one-touch, wireless live streaming.


The industry's first portable, wireless multi-camera broadcasting platform. Monitor, record, switch, edit and stream live HD-quality video wirelessly to YouTube.

Teradek VidiU Pro

Stream in broadcast quality on the go from any HDMI camera, switcher, or video source.

Mobile encoders

Windows, Mac

Mirror your mobile device to YouTube.

Streamlabs OBS
Windows, iOS, Android

Built on OBS, and combines Streamlabs alerts, widgets, tipping, face masks and thousands of free themes and overlays.

Wirecast Go

Free download from iOS App Store. Easily produce professional live broadcasts from your iPhone and stream them to YouTube. Switch shots, add photos, graphics and more on up to three layers at a time for powerful mobile production. Read YouTube comments and chat in real time and interact with your audience. Schedule, create and manage your YouTube Live events directly inside the app. Upgrade from free version to stream to any RTMP destination.

3. Connect your hardware

If you’re using additional hardware, like a webcam, a microphone, or a headset, connect them and make sure they’re set up with your encoder.

Depending on your stream, you may use different hardware. Here are some typical examples:

Gaming & casual live events
Many streamers use an external microphone, webcam, and headphones. Gamers may also use other tools like a greenscreen.

Professional live streams
Advanced stream setups can include multiple microphones and cameras, mixers, and hardware encoders. 

4. Connect your encoder and go live

To start streaming, enter your YouTube Live server URL and stream key into your encoder. If you have audio and video hardware, set it up with your encoder.

First, create an encoder stream

  1. Go to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the top right, click Go Live   to open Live Control Room.
  3. From the “Stream” tab, click New stream, or if you have a previous stream you'd like to copy, choose it from the drop down and then click Reuse settings.
  4. Edit your stream and click Save.
  5. If you’re in the YouTube Partner Program, you can monetize your live stream. Learn more.

Next, connect your stream to your encoder, and then go live

  1. In your encoder stream settings, if you see the option to stream to YouTube, select that. Otherwise copy the stream URL from YouTube and paste it in to your encoder's Stream settings server. This may say RTMP server.
  2. Copy the stream key from YouTube and paste it in to your encoders Stream settings where it says Stream Key.
  3. Set up your encoder, then start the stream.
  4. In Live Control Room, wait for the stream preview to show up, and then click Go live.
  5. To end the stream, click End Stream and stop sending content from your encoder. All streams under 12 hours will be automatically archived. You can access previous, current, and upcoming streams in the Live Tab on your YouTube Studio dashboard. Learn more.

Note: To access and start previously scheduled live streams, select the Manage tab.

Using Stream now & Live Event

  1. Copy the YouTube entry points from Ingestion Settings to your encoder.
    • Stream Name - This identifies your stream on YouTube servers.
    • Primary Server URL - The main server where YouTube will ingest your stream.
    • Backup Server URL - The backup server where YouTube will ingest your stream.
    • Choosing to stream to the backup is recommended but is not required to begin broadcasting. Note that you'll need double the outbound bandwidth (you're outputting a simultaneous redundant stream). So make sure that you have the internet bandwidth capacity. Ideally, your backup stream should be on an entirely redundant physical encoder.
  2. Set up your encoder using YouTube's recommended encoding settings.
  3. Set up your audio and video sources.
  4. Start encoding. For Stream Now, the stream will start automatically when you start the stream via your encoder (will also stop when you stop your encoder)
  5. If you're using a scheduled event, remember to start the event on YouTube too.
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