Videoconferencing and Streaming – What is the difference?

Look at videoconferencing like you would look at any other meeting.  People get together and interact with each other and collaborate using input from a computer, document camera, projector or white board.  Look at streaming like a broadcast or one-to-many speaking event.  The big difference is that in a videoconference everybody is interacting with each other like any other meeting.  In streaming, there is no interaction. It’s a one-to-many communications like a television broadcast.  The streaming presenter can still use input from a computer, document camera or white board but he or she is the only participant showing this input.

Article_75_Stream & videoconf_FINALThis brings us to the second question — When do you use videoconferencing and when do you use streaming? Videoconferencing is an interactive meeting whereby participants communicate with each other just like any other meeting.  Streaming would be used for a one-to-many scenario.  For example:  A quarterly financial report or major announcement to hundreds or thousands of investors.  In a stream participants cannot interact they can only observers the presentation.  There is also a major cost difference.  Cost per participant in streaming is very low compared to a videoconferencing event.

The third question – Where do you go to get help with videoconferencing and streaming?  We recommend a hosting company that does both.  They can certainly guide you to the right solution for your particular event or application.  The problem in going to a videoconferencing only source is that their recommended solution for everything is only videoconferencing and cost can get out of control.  The problem in going to a streaming only source is exactly the same, their recommended solution for everything is streaming, when your application really needs videoconferencing.  The good news is there are several firms that do both and do them efficiently with great customer service and guidance.  Below will help guide you to the best solution:


–          Interactivity or real-time input from participants is required

–          There is a limited number of participants – No more than 20

–          The agenda  requires decisions to be made by the participants, i.e. board meeting

–          Participants have web cams or mobile devices with web cams


–          No interactivity or real-time input required by participants

–          There are many participants

–          No decisions are needed by the participants

–          Participants have no web cam or video access

One more question:  What can you stream from?  Answer – Just about any computer or mobile device with a mic and camera.  You can also stream from a standard videoconferencing CODEC or camera.  If you are sharing input from a computer, it’s best to stream from a computer or videoconferencing CODEC with a VGA computer input port.




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