Live stream scheduling on restreaming platforms: could it be better?

Русская версия статьи доступна по ссылке >>

Choosing a streaming service is an important part of a preparatory work of any streamer. To the logical question “Where to stream?” the market gave a rather unpredictable answer “Why do you need to make a choice if you can broadcast everywhere at once?”.

This is how restreaming platforms appeared, that allow you to broadcast video content simultaneously to several platforms. In this study, we will focus on one of them — Restream.io, and we will figure out:

  1. How does the stream scheduling work?
  2. What is the demand of the schedule among the authors of the content and the audience?
  3. What can be improved in creating the stream’s schedule?

First, we choose streaming platforms for our research. We look at the ratings and see the top three services:

  1. Twitch
  2. YouTube
  3. Facebook Gaming

At the same time, it will be interesting to check out alternative options: platforms that don’t have the ability to schedule streams. The choice itself is not particularly important, but I chose the following two:

  1. VK
  2. gG!

The next step: we choose platforms for gathering opinions. It’s pretty simple here:

  1. Facebook
  2. VK
  3. Capterra

We will get reviews of the English-speaking audience on Facebook, Russian-speaking ones on VK, and we will check the written reviews about the work of restreaming platforms (not only Restream.io but also its analogs) at Capterra.

A purely mechanical step: registration and collection of all data. It seems that there can be no pitfalls, but actually, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. For example, Twitch confuses with its password form, which makes it is absolutely impossible to understand what exactly is required from the user:

Twitch registration fail
Twitch registration fail

If you want to learn how you shouldn’t make a password form, try creating a Twitch account: the form simply says that the password is easy to guess, but it doesn’t say why. To let you understand the situation completely, I list what I’ve tried to enter as a password:

  1. Passwords consisting of more than 8 characters
  2. Special characters
  3. Letters of different case

The problem is not only that the form doesn’t tell you exactly what you need to do to fill it successfully, but also that “the Password is easy to guess” is not a wish, but a requirement. Twitch designers should write exactly what the password requirements are next to the password form, and not on another page. And we take into account the fact that a line for this purpose exists, they just need some desire to take action:

Twitch registration but if it was better
Twitch registration but if it was better
Twitch registration but if it was better

Finally, let’s see what stream planning features Twitch offers us:

Twitch scheduling settings
Twitch scheduling settings
Twitch scheduling settings

We can: set the stream start time, duration, category, name, and days of the week.

Twitch schedule view
Twitch schedule view
Twitch schedule editing
Twitch schedule view
Twitch schedule view
This is how Twitch schedule looks like

Let’s compare this with what YouTube offers us:

Youtube stream scheduling
Youtube stream scheduling
Youtube stream scheduling

Everything is more concise here: we can write the name, time, date, choose the privacy settings, and age limit.

Other selected websites (Facebook, VK, gG) don’t allow you to plan streams. Let’s remember this, it will be important in the future.

Let’s go get reviews starting with a fail that one of the Facebook groups gave me:

Facebook group questions fail
That’s why artificial intelligence will not soon catch up with humans

The main insight that I’ve got while getting reviews on Facebook and VK is that neither users nor streamers are yet used to using schedules. Facebook users were quite inactive in the polls, and despite the fact that I checked four different communities (1, 2, 3, 4), the best response was still very primitive: only 4 votes and 5 comments.

Facebook poll
Facebook poll
I’ve made mistakes. I know!

On VK the situation is slightly better in terms of the activity of the users:

VK poll
VK poll
The population of VK turned out to be more active than on Facebook. Sorry English-speakers!
VK comments
VK comments
Comments on VK. Try translate it if you can.

Bottom line: asking people’s opinions on social media is a bad idea. There is either an insufficient percentage of the target audience or an inappropriate format for gathering opinions.

Let’s check a more suitable target audience — written reviews of streaming platforms users, and let’s see how things are on Capterra:

Restream.io review on Capterra
An example of the Restream.io review. Searching for keywords “schedule” and “events”.
Castr.io review
Castr.io review

What conclusions can be drawn after checking hundreds of reviews:

  1. The stream scheduler is used, although by a fairly small percentage of streamers.
  2. Restream did not have any negative reviews regarding the implementation of the scheduler. If respondents point out the disadvantages of the platform, it is the price in the vast majority of cases.
  3. Castr users note quite a lot of disadvantages of the built-in scheduler, the main one of which is the inability to schedule multiple events (for some reason, there is a limit of 1 scheduled stream).

Let’s check how stream planning is currently implemented in platforms starting with Restream. Here you can set the date and time of the stream, upload a cover, a title, and a description:

Creating a new event on Restream
A note to the Restream team: warnings should not be written after the fact, when the user has already made an error. You have to prevent its occurrence and warn about restrictions in advance.

First, you fill in the information about your stream, and only after that, you can choose the platform for broadcast.

Step 2 of a new event creation on Restream
Step 2 of a new event creation on Restream
Second step of a new event creation on Restream

By the way, the connection of platforms here is implemented in such a way that it is impossible to understand what is already connected:

Adding channel on Restream
Adding channel on Restream
How can I understand that YouTube, Facebook, VK, and other platforms are already connected? Or does Restream allow you to connect multiple accounts on the same service? If so, why not show it more clearly?

Displaying scheduled events in Restream allows you to see a list that contains all the input data, and here you can also see some important messages from the website:

Viewing stream event on Restream
Viewing stream event on Restream
Alert about potential problems in Restream.io

However, what is clearly missing here is the display of which services will and won’t show the schedule. Restream allows you to create a future event even for those platforms where this function is not carried out, and there is no visual display of this incongruity:

Fake events on Restream
Fake events on Restream
Creating a duplicate event in Restream.io

There is no work with duplicates either. You can easily schedule several identical streams (for example, gG, where scheduling is not supported).

Also in Restream, you can create a full calendar of future streams based on uploaded videos. This is useful, for example, if the streamer has an exclusivity agreement with the service (Hello there, Twitch!). The logic is very similar to creating a new event, although there is a slight difference in visual representation:

Restream scheduler
Restream scheduler
You can schedule recorded video

A considerable disappointment for Twitch users is that their schedule on the channel is not updated automatically. We hope that in future releases the Restream team will manage to solve this problem.

If we have a look at comparable streaming platforms, we can see similar logic, but more limited functionality. For example, Castr can’t show a Thumbnail about a future broadcast on YouTube, and it can’t schedule several events in a row, but it has a more user-friendly dashboard.

Castr.io scheduling dashboard

The Mobcrush interface is very similar in its essence and content to Restream, although, from the visual point of view, the representation here is much simpler. Creating a stream is implemented in a more straightforward way: when starting a stream, you can immediately select the start time, that is, in fact, you can work with the schedule at the same place.

Mobcrush scheduling interface
Mobcrush scheduling interface
Mobcrush allows you to add the date and time of a stream as soon as it is created

It would be great to be able to schedule a stream in the same interface where this stream is created.

Creating a stream on Restream.io
Creating a stream on Restream.io
The ability to schedule the time of the stream is not presented. On the other hand, I’ve flashed up my face

Let’s sum up the results of the study:

  • According to the received opinions, the scheduling functionality is hardly the primary task of the development at the moment.
  • It would be great to be able to insert a scheduled event into the schedule on Twitch automatically.
  • For exclusive Twitch partners, the function of an automatic stream upload to third-party platforms in a day would be useful (now you have to count down the time by yourself).
  • It should be shown directly which platforms feature event scheduling, and which are not. For those where this feature is implemented, it should be specified what functionality is supported and not by the platform (for example, the cover of the stream will not be shown everywhere).
  • Possible errors also should be worked through: for example, protection from duplicate events, or protection from creating “empty” events when the platform does not support the scheduling functionality.

Hypotheses:

  1. What if add the ability to schedule immediately when creating a stream so that the user doesn’t switch to another tab in the app?
  2. What if combine the “schedule” and “events” tabs into one tab, as both menu items related to planning future streams? It can be split inside into live video and uploaded.

The next step: selecting metrics for hypothesis testing. Following, working with prioritization and complexity of development. But this is beyond the scope of this study.

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Wish all of you successful streams!

Product Designer, UX/UI Design Lecturer & Cryptocurrencies Trader