What Is Interactive Live Streaming?

The way we use video is evolving. Both at home and in business environments, we now have the flexibility to access content from any device, with an increasing reliance on mobile devices and networks.

In some cases, end users are still happy to ‘lean back’ and passively watch one-way broadcasts. But more often than not, viewers choose to actively participate in the live feeds they’re tuning into, sometimes influencing the content in real time.

Examples include virtual sports gambling platforms that use betting to drive monetization, interactive corporate events that use polling and chatting to create engaging two-way experiences, and live commerce platforms that use real-time engagement to create a sense of urgency that drives purchases. 

There’s no doubt about it: Interactive live streaming has become widespread across countless industries and work environments. So what are the benefits of interactive live streaming and how can companies implement these capabilities? Keep reading for all the details.

What Is Interactive Live Streaming?

Interactive live streaming combines real-time video delivery with two-way data exchange to enable audience participation. This transforms the end-user experience, allowing viewers to engage with live content.

Imagine a live auction where you can bid while streaming the event from halfway around the world, or a virtual town hall where your participation in a poll directly impacts the discussion. These are just a few examples of how interactive streaming fosters viewer participation.

Low-latency video delivery is the backbone of interactive streaming. Without it, real-time interactivity simply wouldn’t be possible. Speedy video distribution permits in-the-moment responses, thereby making the process seamless.

The other core requirement is interactive tools for audience participation. These can include chats, polls, two-way video streams, and more. 

Oliver Lietz, CEO of nanocosmos explains:

“Interactivity and audience engagement is the key. I see two major use cases for that. One is the enterprise, corporate space where you have town hall meetings to engage the audience by asking questions and allowing them to give feedback through voting, polling, etc. 

The other is more like a monetized revenue channel, which is based on things like betting, auctions, and gaming elements. These directly require ultra low latency to keep in the real-time space. 

So those specific verticals are not so much connected to OTT TV, but usually have specific business requirements that aren’t just focused on the video itself but the complete use case and workflow.”

Interactive Streaming Benefits

While interactive streaming is nothing new, the pandemic accelerated its adoption. Everything went virtual overnight and viewers demanded the same dynamic experiences that previously occurred in person. 

This initial push led to innovation across the industry. As a result, even after social distancing mandates loosened, interactive streaming applications stayed embedded in our lives. 

The reason for this is simple: Interactive live streaming doesn’t just provide the utility of conducting in-person experiences from remote locations, it also lays the foundation for more immersive online engagement — which isn’t a short-lived fad.

Here’s a look at the benefits that lend to this staying power.

Community Engagement

End-user expectations have changed. Rather than just receiving information from a one-way broadcast, people want to feel a sense of community. Interactive streaming does just this by transforming viewers into co-creators. This fosters a collaborative environment where viewers can influence the content, share their perspectives, and virtually connect.

Global Accessibility

It used to be that if a one-time auction was scheduled to take place and you couldn’t make it to the physical location, there wasn’t much to be done. But with interactive live streaming, people from every corner of the world can attend these events and take part in the action. Interactive streaming has also transformed modern enterprises by making it possible to work and collaborate from anywhere.

Increased Revenue

Building on the live auction use case, interactive streaming ensures that each item sells at its proper valuation by opening up the bidding pool to those unable to physically attend. More participants mean more monetization opportunities for most online experiences — making interactive streaming a no-brainer.

Enhanced Learning

Interactive features like live Q&A sessions and polls help transform boring presentations into dynamic learning experiences. This invites viewers to actively participate, get clarification, and retain information more effectively than they would through passive viewing.

Improved Brand Loyalty

By fostering a two-way dialogue and addressing audience needs directly, interactive streaming strengthens brand-audience relationships.  Viewers feel valued and engaged, leading to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

Extended Viewing Times

Interactive elements like gamification features, live challenges, and virtual rewards can significantly boost the entertainment value of a live stream. This keeps viewers engaged for longer durations and creates a more memorable experience.

Examples of Interactive Streaming 

At nanocosmos, we partner with organizations across industries to deliver the cutting-edge streaming technology that today’s virtual environments require. Our platform delivers on the low latency, reliability, and scalability required to support interactive streaming experiences.

Here’s a look at some of the organizations we’ve partnered with to drive innovation.

Sports Betting With Highlight Games

In today’s online gambling environments, players make split-second decisions while watching live events. Online casinos, sportsbooks, and other igaming platforms need ultra-low-latency streaming to ensure their participant’s bets are placed on time. And with new use cases like microbetting gaining momentum, the requirement for speedy video delivery continues to grow.

Microbetting Offer Highlight Games

Highlight Games – Microbetting Soccer

Highlight Games creates unique betting and gaming opportunities that capitalize on this trend. The UK-based provider has revolutionized the industry by rolling out new products across the globe, including “video virtuals” (4-5 minute games that involve betting on pre-match markets) and “instant wins” (shorter on-demand games that only involve selecting your stake and pressing start before the highlight show). 

Corporate Events With Twebcast

Anyone who’s participated in a Zoom meeting knows that video delays can be awkward and frustrating. As more events go virtual, enterprises are looking to power real-time collaboration across distances. Replicating the in-person experience requires combining real-time delivery with employee interactivity.

Twebcast Interactive-Features
Twebcast Interactive Features, Image by Twebcast

Twebcast is a premium live event platform for global enterprises running hybrid and digital events. The platform integrates Interactive elements like chat, polls, Q&A, live reactions, and gamification with real-time streaming from nanocosmos to engage viewers and allow instant feedback. By supporting global stream delivery in under one second, the platform enables attendees to interact with presentations and influence the content. 

Live Auctions With Wegner Live 

When it comes to auctions, timing is everything. Buyers are motivated by the urgency that real-time streaming delivers. What’s more, the ability to place a bid in a timely fashion requires sub-second latency.  

Wegner Live, a leading Swiss broadcaster, delivers engaging and seamless auction experiences using nanoStream Cloud. Viewers can access the live streams directly from their web browsers and place bids without any delays. Roland Wegner, CEO of Wegner Live, highlights the value of using nanoStream Cloud as the company’s real-time streaming infrastructure.

“We let some auction streams run 10 hours nonstop — like recently at one of Europe’s most important auction houses, Galerie Kornfeld in Bern. 

Perfect sound and perfect picture, despite ultra-low latency, are advantages of the nanoStream Cloud that we do not want to miss. The fact that the stream is adaptive favors increasing sales figures: With browser-based public broadcasting, the audience can grow quickly, but must not interfere with the stream in progress”

Technical Requirements of Interactive Streaming Services

Building interactive streaming services like the ones detailed above is no walk in the park. A few competing priorities must be achieved. 

  • Real-Time Video Delivery: While some lag is acceptable for one-way live broadcasts, interactive streams demand sub-second delays. Different technologies can support low-latency streaming, but all of these components need to work together efficiently for real-time delivery. For this, you’ll want to find an end-to-end platform like nanoStream Cloud.  
  • Two-Way Audience Engagement: Interactive streaming audience engagement requires a continuous feedback loop between the content and the end users. Third-party tools for chat, polls, and the like can only be integrated with a video platform that offers live metadata support and comprehensive APIs.
  • Scalability and Reliability: As a rule of thumb, the more interactive a video experience is, the more difficult it is to scale. This is because the larger an audience grows, the more resources are required to maintain availability. As such, if your goal is to reach large audiences with smooth two-way experiences, you’ll want to look for a cloud-based solution designed to deliver both low latency and scalibility.

Here are the technical features to look for to check these three boxes.

Live Transcoding

Transcoding involves taking a stream, reprocessing the content, and then encoding it again for delivery to end users. This ensures seamless playback across end-user devices with technologies like adaptive bitrate streaming. 

When building interactive video experiences you’ll need to ensure that your streaming infrastructure doesn’t introduce additional delay during this process. You should also look for a solution that supports real-time protocols like WebRTC and H5Live. 

A graph of nanoStream Cloud's latency values

Ultra Low-Latency Global CDN

Content delivery networks, a.k.a CDNs, ensure that content reaches every corner of the world without buffering or interruptions. If interactivity is key to your use case, we’d suggest going with an ultra-low-latency CDN like nanoStream Cloud that supports sub-second streaming.

Live Metadata Support

Interactive overlays like chat functionality, polling, and betting are only possible with timed metadata. You’ll want to look for a video platform that offers live metadata support and comprehensive APIs. This ensures the interactive elements your users demand can be embedded into live content.

Dynamic Real-Time Player

Adaptive bitrate delivery, fast startup time, and support for low-latency protocols are all key features to ensure a smooth experience for viewers. Finding a player optimized for these needs will prevent the dreaded buffer wheel from appearing — giving your audience the instant, smooth streaming experiences that they demand

Video Fast Startup: with and without

Analytics

Low latency and quick startup time are both great in theory. But if the viewer experience is terrible due to a choppy stream, these features only go so far. This is why analytics into stream performance is also key. Observability across the entire workflow will help inform business decisions and keep the focus on your viewers. And for this, you’ll need a comprehensive platform that integrates the entire workflow.

End-to-End Video Platform

Some businesses chose to take a piecemeal approach, combining third-party components for different steps of the video workflow — such as a video server, an HTML5 player, and a video analytics solution. The problem with this approach is that it introduces additional complexity, disjointed workflow visibility, and fragmented support.

By going with an end-to-end video platform like nanocosmos, businesses can accelerate time to market and streamline their workflow. 

How to Get Started With nanoStream Cloud

We designed nanoStream Cloud to power the engaging video experiences that demand real-time delivery. Our solution combines all the requirements detailed in this article into a comprehensive solution. 

nanoStream Cloud key components for real-time video streaming.

Are you ready to build unparalleled experiences that drive business results? Great — get started with a free trial today.