In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many creators are turning to virtual events to reach their audience. But as creators begin to plan and set up their virtual events, a common question arises: Which video hosting platform should I use?

The answer to where you should host your virtual events depends on the type of event you’re hosting. In general, online events fall into three different categories: Webinars, meetings, or livestreams

Let’s take a closer look at each. In order to help demonstrate the key differences between the three types of virtual events, we’ll use the same event as an example: An expert-led educational discussion on racial equity. 

Webinars

Webinars work well with large groups where you’re encouraging some attendee interactivity, but you may be presenting material. As a result, you want to have more control over when and how attendees participate. For example, you might ask that attendees leave their webcams on so that you can see facial reactions, but you may disable their ability to unmute and instead request that they “raise their hand” in order to chime in with thoughts or questions.

Since it’s a larger group and event security may be a concern, it’s critical that only ticket holders or registered attendees are able to access the webinar. Additionally, you want to ensure that you have access to individual attendee data so that you can engage with them after the webinar.

Meeting

A meeting is best suited for smaller groups where your goal is to foster a highly interactive attendee experience; this could be advertised as a workshop. You want to ensure that only ticket holders or registered attendees are able to join, and you’re encouraging the audience to leave their webcams on and actively participate in the discussion. You may even designate breakout groups to facilitate deeper interaction between small groups of attendees.

Livestream

Livestreams offer an experience that’s optimised for capturing as many viewers as possible; think of a large-scale TED Talk. With livestreams, you’re less concerned with attendee interactivity, don’t need access to attendee data, and are more focused on maximising reach. You don’t need to see your audience during the livestream, but you do want to foster collective engagement during the event such as likes, shares, and live chat.

So, which platform should you choose for your online event?

There are many popular platforms for video hosting, and it can be overwhelming to assess which is the right fit for you. To demystify the basic differences between the most popular options, here’s an overview of the video hosting platforms that most creators are using on Eventbrite:

Zoom

Capabilities

  • Fully integrated with Eventbrite
  • Supports live and on-demand events (meaning you can grant attendees access after the conclusion of the event) 
  • Can gate access by sending attendees a private, unique URL to join
  • Customise event invitations and registration forms
  • Supports interactivity through Q&As, polls, breakout rooms, hand raising, and promoting attendees to panellists 
  • Can be simulcast across Facebook Live and YouTube

Pricing

  • Free option available
  • Paid plans start at £11.99/month for Meetings
  • Webinar add-on starts at £32/month
  • See more pricing info here

Vimeo

Capabilities

  • Eventbrite’s preferred livestreaming partner 
  • Supports live and on-demand events (meaning you can grant attendees access after the conclusion of the event) 
  • Can gate access through passwords or embed permissions
  • Fully customisable video player
  • Supports interactivity through in-stream live Q&A, polls, chat, email capture, CTAs
  • Can be simulcast across a website or social media

Pricing

Facebook Live

Capabilities

  • Type of hosting: Livestreaming 
  • Viewers can access past livestreams unless the broadcaster removes it
  • No access gating or customisation
  • Viewers can comment, like, and share in real-time
  • Qualified pages can add Donate button

Pricing

  • Free

YouTube

Capabilities

  • Type of hosting: Livestreaming 
  • When you stop streaming, an upload of your livestream will publish to your channel unless you change its setting to private
  • No access gating or customisation
  • Viewers can live chat in real-time

Pricing 

  • Free

Twitch

Capabilities

  • Type of hosting: Livestreaming 
  • Viewers can access Past Broadcasts of regular broadcasters for up to 14 days post-stream (60 days for Partners/Prime broadcasters) 
  • Twitch has its own internal economy for monetising content
  • No access gating or customisation
  • Viewers can live chat in real-time

Pricing

  • Free

Not sure which platform best fits your business? Here are some example use cases

No two events are quite the same, and each creator has different goals when it comes to the outcome of their virtual event. Your choice of video hosting platform should help you achieve these goals. Here are a few common event scenarios and the video platform that best fits the event: 

Scenario #1

“I host a mix of large monthly community yoga classes and small weekly yoga teacher training workshops. I’m hoping to make money by selling tickets to both and limit access to attendees who purchased tickets. For my teacher training workshops, it’s important that I’m able to see which attendees join so that I can give them class credit for that session.”

This creator’s use case blends larger, low-interactivity events (community yoga classes) with smaller, more interactive workshops (teacher training). Zoom is a great solution for this cre ator for a few reasons: 

First, Eventbrite’s Zoom app will allow the creator to seamlessly sync their Eventbrite event with Zoom so that they can more easily sell tickets. Additionally, it helps creators maintain granular control over how attendees access the event. Before the event, ticket holders will receive a series of automated reminder emails with a link to the Online Events Page. This is their “virtual venue” where they can click a “Join Now” CTA that will take them directly into the Zoom event using a unique, password-protected URL. They’ll receive these emails 48 hours, 2 hours, and 10 minutes before the event. 

Zoom Meetings will allow workshops to take place in an intimate, interactive environment. Students will have the ability to turn their webcams on, speak up to ask questions, and join breakout rooms for small group exercises during class. With Eventbrite’s Zoom app, attendees will automatically be marked as checked-in on Eventbrite when they join the Meeting; The instructor won’t need to manually take attendance. 

For their larger monthly yoga broadcasts, the Zoom Webinars add-on will allow them to gate access to their event, and also closely monitor who enters. Additionally, some level of interactivity can be enabled if the instructor decides they’d like to see the participants to give feedback on form, or allow for participants to chat while they’re warming up.

Zoom comes with a price tag, but if your business is going to organise events regularly, the fee is well worth it. When you use this Eventbrite integration with Zoom, you can capture attendee data, making it easy for you to remarket to attendees regarding future programming.

Scenario #2

“I’m a comedian/musician and I already have a fairly large following. I’ve been livestreaming sets on Facebook Live/YouTube to grow my audience or fan base, but I’d like to begin charging viewers to access my virtual events.”

Whether you’re a comedian trying to keep fans laughing or a musician seeking out more exposure, livestreams are a great way to promote your work to a new audience. Facebook Live, YouTube, and Twitch work well for events where you want to casually engage with fans, and all three are widely used platforms, which means your content has the chance to reach a large audience. However, if you’re like this creator and want to begin charging for access and get valuable attendee data, those solutions won’t quite fit the bill. The door is wide open for a large group of people to attend your event for free. 

If you’re looking to charge viewers to access your livestream, we recommend leveraging Vimeo. When you livestream with Vimeo, not only are you getting unparalleled audio and visual quality, but you’ll be able to password-protect your stream or make it private. This means that only ticket purchasers you share your information with (via Eventbrite) will be able to join. 

Scenario #3

“I’m hosting a large online conference, and while it’s free to attend, we want to encourage attendees to participate by asking questions and speaking up. That said, I want to ensure that the event is secure and only accessible to registrants”

While this might sound similar to scenario #1, this falls under the umbrella of webinars. The event isn’t monetised, but it is bringing together a large but specific group of people, which might apply to a B2B conference, a networking event, or an educational presentation. In short, you may be looking to avoid “Zoom-bombing.” 

Zoom is the ideal platform for this scenario. It enables you to control attendee access carefully though unique, password-protected URLs. This URL can be sent to any colleagues, professional contacts, or students you’re hoping to connect with at this webinar. And if you want this to be a conversational webinar, Zoom makes it easy to assign the panellist role to certain attendees and enable easy conversation among your group.

Making a Decision

We hope this guide helps you better understand all the powerful video hosting options out there and identify which is the best fit for your event’s unique needs. Now, you’re ready to focus on crafting a great online experience your attendees will love!

Create an online event today

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