YouTube just released a new API for live streaming… Here’s what you can do with it

Hello ProAV & Broadcast Professionals!

YouTube has just released version 3 of the YouTube API which now includes support for live streaming on the platform. This new API will allow programs like Wirecast, vMix, OBS, xSplit, Livestream and NewTek TriCasters to have more control over how their users can schedule, update and manage live streams on the YouTube platform. But, even more, interesting to me, is the ability to use the data from YouTube for increased audience engagement.

You may have seen our live stream dedicated to “Audience Engagement” and how to build an ARS (Audience Response System) using the today’s live streaming platforms. In this blog post we will review the following topics:

  1. What you can do with the new YouTube API
  2. The differences between Facebook and YouTube’s live streaming APIs
  3. Real world use cases

What you can do with the new YouTube API v3

The new YouTube API version three includes a host of new live streaming options including: LiveBroadcasts, LiveChatBans, LiveChatMessages, LiveChatModerators, LiveCuepoints, LiveStreams, Sponsors and SuperChatEvents (Super Chat is replacing Fan Funding). When an API is first introduced like this, Google announces the possibilities at their developer conference. It was not surprising to see YouTube focusing on live streaming and enhancing the API, which has clearly become a main goal for the company.

Many of the API features are great for program authors as I mentioned such as: vMix, Wirecast, OBS, xSplit, Livestream and NewTek. These companies are no doubt, already working this API as it relatest to their programs. We will see increased functionality with their existing YouTube Live integrations. In particular, we should see increased support for controlling the YouTube Live platform inside these third party programs which will streamline the entire workflow for live streamers.

Let’s discuss some of the possibilities…

Starting and stopping live streams automatically for the YouTube platform is not new. But, the ability to completely manage, update and create, upcoming events will provide 3rd party apps the ability to improve upon the existing YouTube Live interface (which is basic but intuitive). YouTube has also opened up Chat Moderation, which is my particular interest, allowing 3rd party applications to moderate, update and interact with the Chatroom (more on this in our “Real World Use Cases” section). Finally, YouTube is adding more support for “Sponsors” and “SuperChats” which is a highly anticipated way for broadcasters to monetize their live streams on the platform.

YouTube Live API vs Facebook

Facebook beat YouTube to the punch on many of these features. In fact, Facebook’s live streaming API is still superior to YouTube’s in many ways, but it’s not Apples to Apples. Facebook’s “Live Reactions” has been a huge hit in the live streaming spaces and it leverages Facebook’s emoji’s reaction platform to allow large audiences to vote on specific topics. This feature has been widely used and it’s quite frankly a genius way to increase user interactions and engagement. While YouTube does not offer a similar feature, they are outshining Facebook with monetization capabilities. YouTube has always been a platform that puts the creators first, and the Super Chat feature has made live streaming the preferred way to monetize content on the platform.

(For more on Facebook Reactions check out this video) (For more on YouTube’s Super Chat check out this video)

Real world use cases

What I love about the new YouTube API for live streaming is the openness of the platform for 3rd party integrations. Here at PTZOptics we have already completed our first “YouTube Live Streaming Tool” to interact with the YouTube Chatroom’s and it was pretty easy (more on this soon, it will be free for all of our customers… a BETA was shown on last week’s live show).

Here are some real world use cases we discussed with Derral Eves, one of the platforms best-known YouTubers…

Curated Chatroom Display:

Audiences love to see their messages acknowledged by their favorite creators. This was the entire idea around Super Chat. YouTube’s new API allows creators more control over how the chatroom messages are displayed. For example, Darrel has a customer with over 1 million YouTube subscribers and they often have over 100 chats per minute during live broadcasts. This information could be GOLD for a marketing department but until version 3 of the YouTube API, this information was un-accessible. (Our new YouTube Live Streaming Tool will allow broadcasters the ability to store these messages in a database :))

With access to the live stream’s chat messages, we can choose how we want to display the content and save the data in a database for future value. In our last live show you can see that we are displaying the chat room messages in a custom title, with the audience members photo and message coming from the YouTube API v3. With access to the data over YouTube’s API we can search through the data and choose exactly what we want to display it in a custom que or rotation duration. Darrel mentioned searching through the data and pulling out only messages with certain keywords that pertain to the broadcasters message. The possibilities are really endless as to what you can do with an incoming stream of live audience messages.

Increasing User Engagement & Monetization

With the ability to display Super Chats on screen, broadcasters will no doubt increase engagement and monetization. There are so many creative ways to work with this data. I am interested in large audiences and the scalability of user engagement personally. YouTube is giving us the tools creators need to monetize their channel in a creative and engaging way. On our show, we display a rotation of our latest YouTube Subscribers on every live show… We noticed that the number of viewers converting to subscribers increased over 35%!

Engagement on live streams is much higher than normal posts.

Marketing, Marketing and yeah… Marketing…

This was mentioned earlier but it’s a gold mine, I just can’t wait to open up. Many live broadcasters, including Tom Sinclair from the Streaming Idiots, like to host their live broadcast on their own website with their own chat room. There are many benefits to this approach such as website conversions and increased control over the user experience. There are also drawback’s which Derral mentioned on our live stream which have to do with the YouTube Algorithm and how it promotes videos who keep viewers on the platform.

One of the most interesting reason’s people use their own chatroom, such as Chatwing, is the fact that the messages do not disappear after the live broadcast. This is something Facebook handles in an amazing way, which is turning all the chat messages into comments on the on-demand video views. I hope that YouTube thinks about adding this feature… But until then, the new API will allow broadcasters the ability to store chat messages for use later. This means the marketing department can sift through the audience’s reaction to a new product release or technical update and use the data to inform sales and product design. Just imagine the possibilities for large scale audience engagement and after the fact information gathering in business today…


The BIG news for me, is the fact that all of these tools are free and scalable for use with extremely large audiences. Facebook’s API is stronger than YouTube’s and the platforms are really starting to show their cards when it comes to strategic directions. Facebook is looking for audience engagement on a large scale. YouTube is more focused on the creators and monetization. That being said, the YouTube API v3 has just been released. It’s going to take a couple months to start seeing the projects that are almost certainly in the works as I write this article. Look out for a YouTube Live Wordpress Plugin from PTZOptics coming out very soon (hopefully this week). It’s going to collect live chat room messages, usable with your favorite live streaming software, store the chat room messages for use later and work with your Wordpress site seamlessly.

As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on what we are up to!

And feel free to reach out to me directly at