Despite initially being exclusive to popular YouTubers, anybody with a YouTube channel in good standing can now livestream games (and anything else, for that matter!) straight to YouTube with minimal setup and stress. It allows budding game YouTubers to showcase their skills live while being able to interact with – and grow – a loyal audience.
And with eSports and general interest in gaming on the rise in 2018, more people than ever before are looking to YouTube, instead of Twitch, to kick-start their livestreaming careers.
Whatever the reason, we at Tech Advisor have got you covered; here, we talk you through how to live stream on YouTube Live, from accessing your dashboard to customising the look of your stream.
If you're looking to monetise your channel, why not check out our article on how YouTubers make money?
Access your YouTube Live dashboard
The first step to broadcasting gameplay on YouTube Live is to access your Live Dashboard. This is separate from your overall YouTube dashboard, accessible via the Live Streaming tab on the left on the Creator Studio Dashboard.
If it’s your first time accessing the Live Streaming menu, you’ll be welcomed by a ‘Get Started’ screen where you’ll be asked to associate a phone number with your channel if you don’t already have one. Once you’ve associated a phone number and confirmed your YouTube account is in ‘good standing’, you’ll be provided with a link to share with your audiences once you start livestreaming.
For reference, this is usually youtube.com/c/USERNAME/live.
Once you’ve filled out all the relevant information, you’ll be able to access your YouTube Live Dashboard. If it’s the first time you’ve ever streamed, you’ll find a Live Streaming Checklist in the top-right of the window that’ll guide you through all the elements you need to consider.
Add event details
Now you’re able to access your YouTube Live dashboard, it’s time to start preparing for your broadcast. In the information box on the dashboard, enter the name of the stream, a description, choose a category and select your privacy settings.
The information is similar to what you’d enter if you were uploading a standard YouTube video, with the exception that you can schedule the broadcast so your fans will know exactly when to tune in.
Once you’ve entered the basic information, select the Stream Options tab. We’d advise enabling DVR, as it allows viewers to seek back up to four hours while you’re streaming (letting them tune in from the beginning, even if they’re a bit late).
It’s down to you whether you want to prioritise interaction or viewer buffering; the former offers a shorter delay with the possibility of buffering, but offers a way for viewers to directly interact with your in-game decisions (via the chat). The latter features more of a delay, but it’s more stable and should buffer less.
Select the Monetization tab and monetise your livestream (if you’re applicable, anyway). Last but not least, head to the Cards tab to add cards to your live event. These can be a call to action, images or anything else that you think will spice up your livestream.
Set up your encoding software
The next step is to set up your encoding software, which essentially records your gameplay and streams it to YouTube ready for your fans to enjoy.
We usually recommend OBS for those starting out, as it’s open-source and therefore free, but for those that want something a little more modern and user-friendly should opt for XSplit Gamecaster. It’s a paid-for option, but offers an easy streaming experience and the ability to customise the layout of your stream on-the-fly.
Either way, you’ll need to locate the Encoder Setup on your YouTube Live dashboard and make a note of both the server URL and Stream key.
If you’re using OBS, head to File > Settings and select the Stream tab on the left-hand side. Next, select YouTube Live and enter the required information from the Encoder Setup mentioned above.
If you decided to buy XSplit Gamecaster, head to the Accounts tab and select the drop-down menu under ‘Live Streaming’ and select YouTube Live. Follow the on-screen instructions to link your YouTube account – it should take no more than a few seconds.
The next step is to customise your livestream with the various elements you require. This differs slightly depending on the encoding software you opted for above, but we’ll include a basic summary of how to use both OBS and XSplit Gamecaster below.
- In OBS, right-click the Sources box and click Add > Game Capture.
- Select ‘Create New’, and click OK.
- Select ‘Capture Specific Window’ in the Mode menu, and select your game from the Window menu. Depending on the game, it might have to be running in the background before being detected by OBS.
- Go through and enable/disable any other options you’d like to include, and click OK to save the settings.
- If you want to include other sources, you can do so. Right-click the Sources box and add any other elements, from Video Capture Device (webcam live stream) to Monitor Capture (everything on your display) to simple text and images. (Find out how to add text to live streams using OBS here)
- Once you’ve added all your sources, you’ll want to play around with the layout. Select the source you’d like to rearrange/resize from the Sources menu, and drag-and-drop the source in the stream preview box. You can resize by dragging the circular icons in each corner, or simply move it from one area of the screen to another – it’s completely up to you.
Once your layout is perfect, the last step is to select “Start Streaming” in the bottom-right of the OBS window to commence your livestreaming session.
- Open XSplit Gamecaster and select the Settings tab.
- Under the Devices menu, select the microphone and camera you’d like to use.
- In the In-Game Overlay menu, add your BRB graphic (if you don’t like the default one) and social media handles that should be displayed.
- In the Hotkeys section, we’d recommend mapping keys for Overlay, Stream, Screenshot and BRB Graphics. You can do them all, of course, but it might be difficult to remember them all.
- Next, launch the game you’d like to broadcast from (don’t worry, we’re not going live yet!).
- Access the Gamecaster overlay (default is Ctrl + Tab). From here, you’ll see all your livestream elements appear on-screen (camera, FPS counter, etc).
- Simply click and drag your elements to move their position on-screen, and tap the pencil icon to edit. You can also tap the TV icon to decide whether the element is visible only to those watching the stream, or to you too.
Once you’re ready to go live, open the game you’d like to play, access your Gamecaster Overlay (default shortcut is Ctrl + Tab), select Stream > Start Broadcast.
Check YouTube Live analytics
Once your broadcast is over, your recording of the live broadcast will be uploaded and available to watch on your standard YouTube channel – but that’s not all. When you select one of your livestream videos in the YouTube Video Manager, you should see an Analytics button appear beneath the video.
This will take you to the analytics page where you’ll find information about viewer engagement, chat rate, average watch duration and a handy graph breaking down what quality your viewers watched your livestream in – important information for future livestreams, as it’s always important to improve and respond to what does well on your streams.