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Broadcast-grade quality for a webinar

Broadcast-grade quality for a webinar

Why do most of the webinars look the same with a good “all-in-one” interface, but poor video quality ?

Answer is quite simple, they rely for most of them on Google Hangouts (GHO). Features set is generally same: Host questions, public and private chat, up to 6 screens broadcasted.

 

What about Google Hangouts ?

The main benefits of Google Hangouts are ease of use, up to 6-screens sharing and price of course (it’s free), making its API a good tool for webinar solutions.

Based on real time protocols (it’s basically Skype in a browser using WebRTC), Google Hangouts focus on delay for communication, not on video quality (to make it simple the faster you transmit the video, the lowest quality you get), so frame skips, artefacts are quite a common result from a Google Hangout broadcast (and any webinar solution based on it), especially in fast-moving scenes (common for professional video producing). Google Hangout video quality is OK for slides or people almost still in front of a webcam, not for quality video broadcasts.

You are of course also highly dependent on Google the day they decide to change features or simply end the service.

 

What happened on April 25, 2017 ?

On April 25, 2017, Google shut down Google Hangouts API (it was announced a mere 3 months before), provoking many apps and many webinar solutions to stop working from this date.

 

Which popular webinar solutions are based on Google Hangouts ?

Webinar Jam, Easy Webinar, Crowdcast, Webinar Ninja, WebinarAlly, WP Webinar System all relies on Google Hangouts. Of course theses solutions now provide other video solutions (usually for a higher price also). Unfortunately most of them still choose real-time communication protocol which is not suited for broadcast-level video quality.

 

Is it the right time to switch to a broadcast approach ?

Yes, definitely. Webinar doesn’t need 2-way video communication for all viewers. So a better approach than one-to-one real-time communication would be to use  over the top broadcast solutions (OTT solutions are used for broadcast grade quality services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO now, etc) for video streaming. If you need video chat during your webinar, you only use it for the people involved by inserting this chat in your production BEFORE transmitting it (you can thus not be limited to one tool but you and people you are talking with can use any communication software on any device such as Skype, Facetime, WeChat/Weixin or any other similar tool and avoid degrading the whole video). Here is the best technical approach for a professional looking webinar.