🏆 15 Best Streaming Software in 2021

Edited by Ben Jacklin

September 22, 2021

Live streaming software has become exciting, affordable, and super easy to use in recent years. And it's now a vital tool for connecting live streamers around the world. This guide reviews the 15 best streaming software programs for beginners, experienced users, and mobile gamers.

Software

Best for

Main features

Price

Gecata by MovaviWindows gamersGame mode, no performance loss, hardware accelerationFree, with paid upgrades from $30.95
Streamlabs OBSFree streaming software for beginnersSelective recording, video highlighter, replay buffer, in-game overlay, live stream remote control appFree
Twitch StudioStreamers who live stream on TwitchIntegrated with Twitch, customizable templates.Free
NVIDIA ShadowPlayGeForce graphics card ownersInstant replay mode, NVIDIA highlightsFree
OBSBest stream software for multiscreen setupsStreamlined settings panel, modular 'dock' UI, easy-to-use configuration optionsFree
XSplit BroadcasterAll-in-one streaming and recording toolSupport for all top platforms, vast GUI customization, flexible plugins and extensionsFree version + four upgrades starting from $20/Mo.
LightstreamStreaming directly from Xbox and PlayStationCloud-based, console streaming, host remote guests, drag-n-drop editor7-day free trial + plans starting at $7/Mo.
OneStreamCreating and scheduling pre-recorded videos to go live across multiple platformsCloud-based streaming, multicast to 40+ networks, unified chat, team managementFree version + three upgrades starting from $10/Mo.
WirecastCapture, produce and stream high-quality content to the internetUnlimited capture, archive live video inputs, remote guests, built-in graphics and title libraryFree trial; two pricing plans from $599
vMixCreating pro-level HD productions from modest desktop PC with little experienceTouchscreen web interface, 100+ built-in animated titles, tickers and scoreboards, built-in audio mixer60-day trial + Lifetime and Subscription license options from $50/Mo.
FFmpegAn ultra-lightweight free streaming softwareOpen-source, command-line utility, broad compatibilityFree
RestreamMaximizing the number of reachable peopleCompatible with OBS, vMix, etc., Chat overlay, Restream PairsFree version + Standard & Pro plans, starting from $16/Mo.
Omlet ArcadeBuild virtual worlds with others across the globeMinecraft multiplayer mode, mobile tournaments, stream overlays, create or join communities and clubs, squad streamingFree (offers in-app purchases)
IRLTV- Stream Live To TwitchStream to Twitch.tv audiences from iPhoneTwitter integration, view chat, after stream stats, viewer interaction, blur camera viewFree (offers in-app purchases)
StreamTubeLive broadcasting to YouTube and FacebookOne-tap start, easy editing w/ advanced filters and logos, Zoomx15 featureFree

👍 Special pick: Gecata by Movavi

OS: Windows 7 and newer

Price: Free version and three paid plans from $25.95

Best for Windows computers

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars, 307 reviews

Gecata by Movavi is very good video game streaming software available for Windows computers. It features lightweight streaming and game recording with rapid speed and simple steps. It is pretty easy to use. It supports a wide range of video formats and is highly compatible with hardware, including NVIDIA intel hardware acceleration, with which 4K videos at a maximum rate of 120fps. Though it requires purchase, a free trial version is available for download.

Main features:

  • Stream on any of the top platforms
  • High-quality desktop screen recorder with no lags 4K/120fps
  • Simple one-click capture and hotkeys to control recording
  • 2-way sound capture (save audio streams separately)
  • Hardware acceleration encodes video 400% faster
  • Free updates and support

Pros:

  • It's easy to use.
  • It allows for the streaming of multiple video formats.
  • High Definition 4K video streaming and recording is available.
  • Supports multiple languages.

Cons:

  • Its trial version watermarks video recordings and has a very limited trial period.

🧐 What is live streaming software?

Software is code that contains instructions and data. Its job is to instruct a computer – the hardware – how to work. Live streaming software tells your device how to stream your live videos. Tech-heads call this type of software encoding programs. It converts your video input into a recognizable digital format so that viewers can play it across platforms in real-time.

🤔 How can you use video game streaming software?

Gaming and e-sports are live streaming genres that excite millions around the world. That's why there's a growing number of platforms dedicated to gaming. Some of the top favorites are Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming. You can stream gameplay to a few select friends or build an entire global community. And the right streaming software puts you in complete control of WHERE to stream and HOW to stream. However, live streaming is not limited to gaming and sports. Here are different types of live streaming:

  • 💡 Award shows
  • 💡 News
  • 💡 Concert/Festival
  • 💡 Friend's live vlog
  • 💡 Tutorial
  • 💡 Interview/Q&A

💻 How do you choose streaming software?

First, know the operating system (OS) and device you want to use the live streaming software with. The way to choose the best streaming software is to recognize your needs, wants, and expectations. If you're looking for paid software, get your max budget down first, as it will help you narrow down your choices. Other considerations should be:

  • Video quality
  • Streaming and editing capabilities
  • Streaming platform integrations
  • Tech support availability
  • Community features (live chat, alerts, etc.)

The rest of this guide reviews the top 15 streaming programs cross-device and operating systems (OS). That includes PC, macOS, and mobile devices. Our reviews are easy to scan for OS, pricing, and the standout features of each product.

✨ Best streaming software for beginners

For those that are just about to commence the live streaming journey, it is better to use highly simplified applications that will guide the user through the process rather than complex applications that may frustrate them in the live streaming journey. This section of the article will present software that will make streaming as seamless as possible for those just starting the live streaming journey. Free streaming software for beginners is considered in the section below:

OS: Windows 7 and newer; macOS (open beta)

Price: Free

Best for live streaming by beginners

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars, 985 reviews

Streamlabs Open Broadcast Software is a simplified form of streaming software. Its simplified layout makes it more suited for beginners who may find the OBS interface challenging to deal with. It is free for use and available for multiple devices, including Mac, Android, and Windows. Streamlabs’ use is more simplified because of the presence of its integrated features that allows a user a seamless. It is connected to the Streamlabs website, enabling it to import additional tools for recording and editing.

Main features:

  • Selective recording
  • Layout editor
  • Video highlighter
  • Replay buffer
  • In-game overlay
  • Live stream remote control app

Pros:

  • Easy installation process.
  • A simplified user interface.
  • It is free.
  • It has lots of integrated features to enhance the user experience.

Cons:

  • It has a high space requirement on the CPU.

Streamlabs OBS

OS: Windows 7 and newer; macOS 10.14: Mojave

Price: Free

Best for beginners who will require a guided installation and streaming experience

It is a streaming software that is suited for beginners. It possesses features that provide do-it-yourself solutions to the streaming process. Those that make it easiest to connect with other members of the streaming community where you can share experiences. It has inbuilt features that enable it to detect the appropriate bitrate for each streaming experience automatically. It is free for users; although it has fewer customization features when compared to other streaming software, it is an appropriate software to get started with live streaming.

Main features:

  • Integrated with Twitch
  • Simple, guided setup
  • High-quality stream
  • Customizable templates to personalize streams
  • Built-in desktop audio capture

Pros:

  • Highly simplified installation process.
  • It is less technique sensitive due to its automated features.
  • It does not require any additional setup after its installation.
  • It is free and best suited for beginners in live streaming.

Cons:

  • It possesses only basic features, therefore not suitable for experienced users.

Twitch Studio

OS: Windows 7 and newer

Price: Free

Best for recording short clips from a game or a game's highlights. It is not suitable for live streaming

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

NVIDIA cards are one of the best GPUs for personal workstations for gamers and design professionals; NVIDIA ShadowPlay is integrated with many modern NVIDIA cards and will not require a download if you're using these cards. It is appropriate only for gamers, not for other types of streaming. It allows gamers to stream and record their gaming sessions. It is free for use and provides for 4k recording.

Main features:

  • Broadcast games to Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook Live with two clicks
  • Instant replay and record mode via hotkey (saves last 30 seconds)
  • NVIDIA highlights auto-captures key moments, clutch kills, and match-wins
  • Capture 15-second gifs and 8k screenshots

Pros:

  • It is free.
  • It has a direct sharing feature that enables you to broadcast to different social media pages.
  • It has instant replay features that can be used to record essential highlights.

Cons:

  • It is pretty limited in its live streaming capacity – as it is only appropriate for gamers and only compatible with NVIDIA GPUs.

NVIDIA ShadowPlay

🤓 Best live streaming software for professionals

Unlike beginners, professionals already have an in-depth knowledge of streaming videos and games, and they are already accustomed to using at least one software in carrying out this task. Unlike beginners, functionality other than ease of use is the more important feature. Professionals need applications that will give a broad range of customizable features. The best streaming software for PC are considered below:

OS: Windows 8, 8.1, 10; macOS 10.13+; Linux

Price: Free

Best for professional live streamers in search of free software with advanced customizable features and are willing to set up everything manually

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars, 44 reviews

OBS is also known as Open Broadcast Software, is an open-source streaming software that is available for free for users globally. It is one of the most frequently used streaming software with multiple customizable inbuilt features. It also has a large community of users who can help troubleshoot if any challenge is encountered during its use. One of its unique characteristics is its multi-view feature that enables users to view the entire stream layout. Due to the complexity that results from multiple options that users have during its configuration process, it not an ideal tool for people that are new to live streaming.

Main features:

  • High-performance video/audio capture and mixing in real-time
  • Streamlined settings panel with a wide choice of configuration options
  • Easy-to-use configuration options
  • Option to set hotkeys for almost every type of action
  • Rearrange layouts with the modular 'dock' UI
  • Switch seamlessly between unlimited scenes via custom transitions
  • Preview scenes in Studio Mode before going live
  • Intuitive audio mixer with filters for noise suppression, gain, etc.
  • Best free streaming software for regular updates

Pros:

  • It is free to use.
  • It is available on multiple platforms – Mac, Windows, and Linux.
  • It has a big community that provides support and regularly updates its features.
  • It has a wide range of customizable features and affords users a lot of freedom.

Cons:

  • It can be very complex to use, especially for users new to live streaming.

OBS

OS: Windows 7 (SP1 64-bit) and newer

Price: Free version + premium plans starting from $15/Mo.

Best for those who appreciate dedicated customer service support and its advanced premium settings

Rating: 4.1 of 5 stars, 41 reviews

This is a fantastic streaming software for professionals which offers both free and premium services for users. Its free version might suffice for people just getting started in live streaming. Its main restriction relates to the number of scenes you can stream – a maximum of four scenes. This would meet the need of many streamers; however, streamers who desire variety and need more customized settings will find this quite limiting. Its free version also produces a watermarked recording. These restrictions can be overcome by subscribing to the premium version, which costs a $199 one-time bill or a $5 monthly bill. One of the unique advantages it has is the 24/7 customer support it offers to its customers.

Main features:

  • Support for all top platforms
  • Powerful drag and drop GUI with limitless customization
  • Chroma key compositing
  • Custom scene transitions
  • Preview editor (Premium)
  • Audio source, local streaming, stream delay (Premium)
  • Flexible plugins & extensions
  • Project scene (including active scene) to another display or monitor (Premium)

Pros:

  • It is easy to use from the setup stage to the streaming stage.
  • It offers 24/7 customer support, especially to premium subscribers.
  • A wide range of additional customizable features.

Cons:

  • It is available in the Windows version only, leaving out Mac and Linux users.

XSplit Broadcaster

OS: Supported web browser on any PC, Mac, or tablet

Price: Free trial; Gamer/Creator plans starting at $8/Mo.

Best for talk show streaming and podcasts and will be the ideal software for the mobile streamer

Lightstream utilizes cloud-based technology for its streaming services, thereby reducing hardware requirements. Its setup is relatively easy as users are guided through the process, and it can be integrated into other streaming tools. It is more suited for podcasts and talk shows though it works just fine for game streaming. It allows users to feature guests by sending them links that directly pull their video and audio into your stream seamlessly. It has both free and premium versions, while its free version has limitations such as the highest quality of 30 FPS and 720p, a maximum streaming time of 3 hours. Its premium version comes at the cost of $89 per month and offers advanced features like headless mode, among others.

Main features:

  • Creative browser suite, nothing to download
  • Drag-n-drop editor for unlimited creative control
  • Powered by the cloud (sync & storage)
  • Remote control with your phone
  • Personalized console streaming from PlayStation and Xbox
  • Custom RTMP destinations (Creator plans)
  • RTMP sources, max 4 per scene (Creator plans)
  • Option to invite and host remote guests via link (Creator plan)

Pros:

  • It does not require any additional software download, and you can stream directly from your browser.
  • A guided installation process.
  • It is relatively easy to add a guest if the streaming is meant for a podcast or talk show.

Cons:

  • A costly premium version.

Lightstream

OS: Supported web browser on any PC, Mac, or tablet

Price: Free version + three paid plans starting from $10/Mo.

Best for streaming prerecorded videos on social media

Rating: 3.9 of 5 stars, 2155 reviews

It is a cloud-based streaming software that allows the streaming of prerecorded videos across various social media platforms. It features both free and premium services. Its free service allows for the broadcast of up to 5 minutes of prerecorded video and a registered social media account. It has different categories of premium subscribers. Subscribers who will like to stream long prerecorded videos will need to subscribe to the standard plan that costs $45 per month and allows a maximum of 60mins per live stream. It offers various customizable options, including the addition of watermarks, logos, and thumbnails. It does not require any software installation, and it can stream videos that have been stored in an online medium like Google Drive and Dropbox.

Main features:

  • Cloud-based streaming
  • Multicast to over 40 streaming networks (paid plans only)
  • Schedule video streams 60 days in advance
  • Real-time streaming using any streaming software (Standard and Pro plans).
  • Embed live streams (Professional plan)
  • Playlist Streaming (Professional plan)
  • Add captions/subtitles to any pre-recorded live stream (paid plans only)
  • Unified chat to manage incoming comments, messages, replies
  • Team management (Standard and Pro plans)

Pros:

  • It can stream directly from online sources.
  • It does not require any software installation.
  • It gives a variety of customizable live stream video options.

Cons:

  • Its premium rates are pretty high and have limited streaming time.

OneStream

OS: Windows 10 version 1809 or newer, macOS Mojave 10.14 or newer

Price: Free trial (30 days); two pricing plans, Wirecast Studio $599, Wirecast Pro $799

Best for streaming for audiences in different parts of the world

Rating: 4.4 of 5 stars, 28 reviews

It is premium live streaming software that is user-friendly and easy to use. It supports a broad range of input options – video and audio files, webcams, cameras, phones, and tablets through the Wirecast cam. Wirecast supports multi-bitrate streaming, which allows the live stream to be accessible to users with different internet speeds. It also allows simultaneous live streaming of different videos, games, etc., from the same system. It is directly integrated with Twitter and works across multiple platforms. It also has both free and premium versions. Its free version allows for the streaming of watermarked videos or games. While the premium version offers two options – Studios and Pro. The Pro offers additional features and comes at a higher price than the studio. Every update requires a new purchase.

Main features:

  • Unlimited video captures
  • Archive live video inputs
  • Remote guests
  • Multi-viewer output
  • Built-in graphics and title library
  • PTZ camera control (Pro plan)
  • Pro Audio FX (Pro plan)
  • Sports production (Pro plan)
  • Virtual sets and backgrounds (Pro plan)

Pros:

  • It allows for multiple simultaneous streams.
  • There is dedicated customer support to offer support for any challenges encountered in the course of use.
  • It allows for multi-bitrate streaming, thereby reaching a bigger audience.
  • It has additional customizable features.

Cons:

  • It is costly to use, with every update requiring a new purchase.

Wirecast

OS: Windows 7 and newer; Mac (via Boot Camp)

Price: Free Trial (60-day); Lifetime & Subscription license options from $50/Mo.

Best for dual purpose of video production and streaming

Rating: 4.2 of 5 stars, 20 reviews

It serves the dual purpose of a video production tool and live streaming software. It is easy to use and remains a software of choice for professionals with intermediate proficiency. It supports input from a wide range of hardware sources. It features different transition effects that can add color to your live stream. It also possesses a live conferencing call feature. It allows multiple input sources that will enable you to display different camera views during live stream sessions. It offers both trial and premium versions. Its trial version lasts up to 60 days, while its premium version offers about six different packages, the most basic being the Basic HD which costs $60 only.

Main features:

  • Real-time streaming/recording
  • Touchscreen web interface
  • 100+ built-in animated titles, tickers, & scoreboards
  • Custom animated titles & import PSD's (4K & Pro license)
  • PTZ or Pan/Tilt/Zoom control (4K & Pro license)
  • PlayList to auto-play multiple videos successively or to switch tasks
  • Instant Replay (4K, Pro license)
  • Professional color correction

Pros:

  • It offers a relatively long trial period.
  • A broad range of video editing features.
  • It produces high-quality videos for end users.

Cons:

  • Its most advanced features come at a very exorbitant cost, more than $1000.

vMix

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Price: Free

Best for users conversant with command-line functions

Rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, 18 reviews

FFmpeg is free, open-source multipurpose multimedia software. It serves multiple purposes, including – playing, converting, encoding, recording, and streaming multimedia files. It uses command lines instead of a graphic user interface which makes it quite technical to use. Due to its highly technical nature, it is more suitable for professionals who are more conversant with using command lines. Its streaming functions allow input from a broad range of hardware, and it can be used in streaming complex live production that requires a mix of different videos. It requires a complex process of installation and use.

Main features:

  • Open-source software
  • The command-line utility gives greater control over system functions
  • Works as an input recorder, encoder, and converter
  • Handles most requested video processing tasks
  • Wide compatibility
  • Mixes live productions

Pros:

  • It is free.
  • It offers a lot of customizable features for streaming.
  • It is pretty reliable for use.

Cons:

  • It requires high technical know-how.

FFmpeg

OS: Browser-based live streaming (including mobile browsers)

Price: Free version; Standard & Pro plans starting from $16/Mo.

Best for multistreaming

Rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, 357 reviews

Restream.io is an online service that allows you to stream to sites where your audience views video. Its main feature is the ability to stream your videos to multiple sites at once. In fact, Restream supports more than 30 streaming sites including Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Mixcloud, Twitch, Picarto, and Steam.

Apart from multistreaming, Restream offers a wide variety of video management tools. You can optimize your live video streaming quality by tweaking frame drops, frames per second, and bit rate. Restream also allows its users to stream video feed from multiple cameras at the same time.

Main features:

  • Unlimited streaming minutes
  • Compatible with OBS, vMix, etc.
  • Streaming to Facebook groups or pages (paid plans)
  • Restream Pairs (Pro plan)
  • Stream pre-recorded videos (Pro plan)
  • Full HD 1080p in Studio (Pro plan)
  • Video storage (Pro plan)

Pros:

  • You can stream your content to over 30 social platforms at once.
  • Restream.io is entirely cloud-based and requires no installation.
  • It’s possible to stream from multiple cameras at the same time.
  • You can record your live streams for up to 20 hours.

Cons:

  • Restream doesn’t support 2K and 4K video streaming.
  • The service watermarks your broadcast content until you upgrade to the Professional plan.

Restream

📱 Mobile video game streaming software

OS: Android 5.0 and higher; iOS 11 and higher (made for iPad)

Price: Free – offers in-app purchases

Best for streaming online games from Android and iOS

Rating on Google Play: 4.4 of 5 stars, 700,000+ reviews

Omlet Arcade is a mobile app that enables users to broadcast their mobile gaming experience via twitch, YouTube, Facebook, etc. It is free for use and supports a wide range of online games, and has a community with which you can interact and even play games. It is available to both android and iOS users.

Main features:

  • Free live streaming to popular platforms
  • Minecraft multiplayer mode
  • Mobile tournaments
  • In-game voice chat
  • Stream overlays
  • Best stream software to create or join communities/clubs squad streaming

Pros:

  • It features voice chats that enable you to communicate with other players and viewers.
  • Allows for multiplayer mode.
  • Enables live streaming to your platform of choice.

Cons:

  • It features a lot of ads which can be pretty disruptive.

Omlet Arcade

For gamers, the satisfaction that comes from the experience is not complete if they cannot show their gaming prowess to their friends. Sometimes these friends are present to watch physically, but at other times, they are miles apart. In this case, streaming becomes the tool with which this objective is achieved. A live-streaming app is necessary to get this done; either you are doing it through your mobile device or a system. We will consider the best application options for getting this done below:

OS: iOS 9.0 or later (designed for iPhone)

Price: Free – offers in-app purchases

Best for streaming videos and images from iOS and Android

Rating on AppStore: 4.1 of 5 stars, 211 reviews

IRLTV is one of mobile apps available on the play store and apple store, enabling users to stream directly from their mobile devices via Twitch. It has automated features that make it select the best server, and it has high broadcast resolution and a fixed bitrate that enables it to broadcast quality images. It has both free and premium versions – the premium version offers additional pro features at a monthly subscription rate of $2.99.

Main features:

  • Quality streaming
  • Twitter integration
  • Mobile broadcasting
  • View chat
  • After-stream stats

Pros:

  • Integrated social media features to notify your followers of your live stream.
  • High-quality video transmission.
  • Automatically detects the best server.

Cons:

  • Charges monthly subscription fee for advanced features.

IRLTV Live Video Streaming for Twitch

OS: iOS 9.0 or later; macOS 11.0 or later; Mac w/ Apple M1 chip (iPad, iPod touch)

Price: Free

Best for iOS users

Rating on AppStore: 2.8 of 5 stars, 14 ratings

It is software used to broadcast from iPhones and iPads to streaming channels like Facebook and YouTube. It has video editing features like the addition of filters and provides variety like changing camera views, landscape, and portrait streaming.

Main features:

  • Simple one-tap start
  • Adjustable stream quality as needed (HD/SD)
  • Easy editing w/ advanced filters and logos
  • Zoomx15 feature
  • Capture stills while live streaming
  • Landscape & portrait streaming

Pros:

  • Seamless broadcast from iOS to YouTube/Facebook
  • Video editing functions
  • Free for use

Cons:

  • It is impossible to see the viewer's comments during a live stream.
StreamTube

Ben Jacklin

Ben is a writer from the UK with qualifications in Media and Music Technology, he specialises in software reviews and tutorials. Ben has been blogging about media and tech subjects since he was a teenager from his base in the East of England.

❔ Frequently asked questions

🏆 What is the best program for live streaming?

The best program for live streaming depends on what exactly you are trying to achieve and how the software suits your purpose at that time. The following that excellent programs that you should always consider:

  • Gecata by Movavi
  • Streamlabs
  • Twitch Studio
  • NVIDIA ShadowPlay
  • OBS
  • OneStream
  • Wirecast
  • XSplit Broadcaster
  • vMix
  • Lightstream
  • FFmpeg
  • Omlet Arcade
  • IRLTV
  • Streamtube
  • Restream

⚖ Is OBS better than Streamlabs?

Streamlabs is an upgrade to OBS, and it is essentially the revamping of OBS to give a more simplified software with a better user interface. This makes it easier to use, but it also has the drawback of higher CPU requirements. On the other hand, OBS is open-source software that is regularly improved to deliver a better live streaming experience. However, it can be pretty complex for use, especially for beginners.

📺 What software do streamers use?

Depending on the streamer's need, there are many software options available for streamers to use. This includes:

  • OBS
  • Gecata by Movavi
  • Twitch Studio
  • Streamlabs
  • FFmpeg
  • NVIDIA ShadowPlay
  • OneStream
  • Wirecast
  • XSplit Broadcaster
  • vMix
  • Lightstream
  • Restream