Guide to Choosing a Live Streaming API in 2021

by Jones David

Utilizing a live streaming API can be a cost-effective way for businesses who are looking to have their own live streaming application but don’t want the hassle of developing their own solution. 

This article focuses on how live streaming APIs work to help you stream your video broadcasts from your own website or app, the benefits of using APIs, and key considerations when choosing between different live streaming APIs.

Without further ado, let us begin by discussing the definition of live streaming API. 

What Is a Live Streaming API?

First, what is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and actually, virtually all instances of software development today will involve APIs. 

Simply put, API is an interface bridging two or more applications that will teach an application the rules of another application, allowing the former application to communicate with the latter and access all the functions and data that the latter application is ready to share. 

In practice, the live streaming API allows an application (can be a brand new application or an existing one) to interact with a live streaming service that provides the API, so now this application can perform live streaming functionalities as its native functions. 

So, an API allows us to gain access to a live streaming service’s function without us needing to know the internal logic of the live streaming service. We can only send a simple command on the application and the live streaming service will do the rest. 

Why Would You Need a Live Streaming API?

Simply put, when a business wants to start live broadcasting its content, the business has three viable options: 

  1. Building live streaming solution from scratch

The option that would provide the most versatility and customizability is to develop the live streaming from scratch. If you have the technical know-how, you can do it yourself, but most likely you’ll need to hire a software developer or outsource the job to a professional software developer expert/agency. 

Not only this option can be (very) expensive, developing and testing a live streaming solution can be time-consuming, especially if you are in an industry where applications should stay in compliance with certain regulations, like HIPAA in the healthcare industry. 

  1. Using off-the-shelf solution

There are affordable and even free live streaming services like YouTube Live or Facebook Live that we can use right away. They are also fairly easy to use, so most likely we can use them to start live streaming right away. 

However, when we use these services we won’t have too much freedom both in branding and monetization. You typically only have very limited opportunities to use your logo and brand colors, and in monetizing your content you’ll also be limited to the platform’s rules and regulations. 

In short, this is the easiest and the most cost-effective option, but also one with the least freedom.

  1. Using a live streaming API

The last option is to use a live streaming API, which will provide the best of both worlds: you’ll get the versatility and freedom of building your solution from scratch, but you can eliminate the lengthy development time. 

Using an API is much more efficient and more convenient to use the live streaming functionalities of the API than to try to independently implement similar functionality by building your own solution from scratch. 

You can, for example, build a basic application with your brand logo and brand colors, then integrate a professional video streaming API by Iotum to use live streaming features on the app right away. 

Below, we will further discuss the benefits of using a live streaming API. 

Benefits of Live Streaming API

When integrating a live streaming API rather than building your live streaming solution from scratch, you’ll get the following advantages: 

  • Faster Integration: A live streaming API allows your application to share the functionality of a live streaming service without lengthy development time. This will significantly streamline the entire integration process.
  • Better Integration: Simply put, live stream APIs simplify the integration and you’ll gain access to established live streaming service, allowing your business to get better results while reducing development costs.
  • Improved services: Since live streaming APIs will streamline the implementation of the live streaming features, you can focus on delivering better services for your viewers. 

Key Considerations When Choosing a Live Streaming API

While the benefits of using a live streaming API far outweigh the other alternatives, it’s still very important to choose the right live streaming API for your business. 

While you can switch to another API later on, doing so is often a major hassle and might require you to revamp the application. This is why choosing the right live streaming API the first time around is important, and here are some key factors to consider when choosing between different services: 

  1. Features

Fairly obvious: you should list which features are essential for your live streaming goals, and which features would be considered bonuses (nice to have but not important). Determine your live streaming service goals, and choose the API that can help you achieve this goal. 

  1. Ease of Use

Check the documentation of the API whether it’s detailed and easy to understand. If the live streaming API also offers a test/sandbox environment, it’s a nice plus since you can test the API without configuring your app. 

  1. Data Security

Make sure the live streaming service that provides the API has implemented sufficient data security measures. Also, if you are going to use the live streaming app in a regulated industry (i.e. financial, telehealth), make sure the API has met the industry’s compliance requirements. 


A live streaming API can allow you to gain access to live streaming functionalities on your app or website without needing to build the solution on your own. This can provide you the versatility and freedom of having your own app, like the ability to use your logo and branding elements, but also ensure cost and time efficiency. 

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