Create a YouTube live stream with an encoder

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

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

The steps below will help you get started with your first live stream.

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 start live streaming.

2. Install an encoder

An encoder converts your video into a digital format to stream on YouTube. Some encoders are software apps on your computer, while others are standalone hardware.

Watch this video to learn more about why you should use an encoder and how they work.

Encoder Live Streaming: Basics on How to Set Up & Use an Encoder

YouTube Live verified encoders

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

AWS Elemental MediaLive

AWS Elemental MediaLive is a broadcast-grade live video processing service, supporting live streaming all the way up to 4Kp60 HEVC.

 

Elgato Game Capture Software
Windows, Mac

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

 

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Gamecaster
Windows (no charge version available!)

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

 

Melon Live Streaming App

Best live streaming app for professional quality-live streams from your browser. Invite guests with ease. Packed with features, tons of customization options, donations, and no downloads needed.

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Open Broadcaster Software

Open source software for video recording and live streaming at no charge.

 

Restream

The leading live streaming broadcasting studio for creators and businesses. Stream live to 30+ platforms simultaneously from our cloud studio. Invite guests, add overlays, play videos, & professionalize your stream – at no charge, and easy to use.

 

Stage TEN

Easily produce and distribute broadcast quality live streams.  You can invite guests from anywhere, drag and drop media and graphics, add live commerce to your streams, interact with audiences and earn revenue.

 

Streamlabs
Windows, iOS, Android

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

 

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Wirecast
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. Stream directly to YouTube or any RTMP destination. Works with the YouTube API so you can manage, create, and schedule or stream your live channel without leaving the app.

 

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XSplit Broadcaster
Windows (no charge version available!)

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

Hardware encoders


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AirServer
Windows, Mac

Mirror your mobile device or computer to YouTube.

AWS Elemental Live

AWS Elemental Live is an on-premises video encoder that processes live video for broadcast and streaming to any device.

 

Epiphan Pearl 2

The Pearl-2 is a video switcher, recorder, streamer, splitter, and scaler all in one. This software offers six video inputs and four for XLR professional audio, 4K streaming and recording, NDI support, chroma keying, and much more. Pearl-2 brings the pro features and processing power required for the most demanding live streams.

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LiveU Solo

Best-in-class, plug-and-play video encoder offering one-touch, wireless live streaming directly from your camera/switcher to YouTube and other online destinations. Reliably stream from anywhere leveraging the same LRT™ bonding technology used by major broadcasters.

 

Nvidia

NVIDIA GPUs contain a hardware-based encoder (NVENC) which provides fully accelerated hardware-based video encoding, enabling higher-quality live streaming and better game performance without the need to utilize your CPU.

 

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SlingStudio

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

 

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Teradek VidiU Go

Stream in broadcast quality on-the-go from any camera, switcher, or video source. Compact and portable, the Vidiu Go supports full 1080p60 SDI and HDMI workflows for the most discerning user.

Mobile encoders


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AirServer
Windows, Mac

Mirror your mobile device to YouTube.

 

Streamlabs
Windows, iOS, Android

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

 

 

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Wirecast Go
iOS

Free of charge 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 streams directly inside the app. Upgrade from free of charge version to stream to any RTMP destination.

3. Connect your hardware

If you’re using 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 streams
Many streamers use an external microphone, webcam, and headphones. Gamers may also use other tools like a greenscreen.

Improper encoder setup can cause technical issues with your hardware while streaming.

Professional live streams
Advanced stream setups can include more than one microphone, camera, mixer, and hardware encoder.

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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, also known as streaming software.

Introducing Live Control Room - for Live Streaming

Start live streaming now

 First, create a stream

  1. Go to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the top right, click CREATE "" and then Go Live to open the Live Control Room.
  3. Click the Stream tab.
  4. If it's your first live stream: Edit your stream and click Create stream.
    If you’ve live streamed before: Your previous stream settings will load, including your stream key, which means you won’t need to update your encoder.
    • For users aged 13–17 on YouTube, your default privacy setting is set to private. If you’re 18 or over, your default privacy setting is set to public. All streamers can change this setting to make their live stream public, private, or unlisted.
  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. It 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 with your encoder. A watch page is now created for your stream, and you're now live on YouTube. Notifications will be sent and your stream will show up in subscriber feeds.
  4. To end the stream, stop sending content from your encoder. All streams under 12 hours will be automatically archived. You can find previous, current, and upcoming streams in the Live Tab on your YouTube Studio dashboard. Learn more.

Schedule a live stream

Scheduling a stream lets you promote your stream. Viewers can get reminders on upcoming streams, you can share the URL on social media, and more.

Schedule a stream

  1. Go to YouTube Studio.
  2. From the top right, click CREATE "" and then Go Live to open the Live Control Room.
  3. Click the Manage tab.
  4. Click Schedule stream.
  5. You can reuse settings from a previous stream and click Reuse settings, or you can create a stream by clicking Create new.
    • For users aged 13–17 on YouTube, your default privacy setting is set to private. If you’re 18 or over, your default privacy setting is set to public. All streamers can change this setting to make their live stream public, private, or unlisted.
  6. If you’re in the YouTube Partner Program, you can monetize your live stream. Learn more.

Tip: Get your audience excited about your upcoming live stream by showing a trailer. Learn more.

When it’s time to start your stream...

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 into your encoder's Stream settings server. It 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.
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