What is a webcast and how does it work?

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated September 20 2021
Webcast - Spider casting a web
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated September 20 2021

We live in the golden age of corporate communication. We got chat applications for quick messages and daily collaboration, email to send updates and files, virtual conferencing for all our team meetings and virtual client visits, and webinars and virtual events for marketing and branding campaigns great or small. But the one corporate communication tool that ties the company culture together is the almighty webcast. The number of companies that stream regular webcasts is on the rise. In this article, we discuss what webcasts are, how they work, and whether your company should webcast, too!



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What Is a Webcast?

Let’s start with a webcast definition. The word “webcast” is a contraction of “web” and “broadcast” and implies a point-to-many live stream over an internet connection. Broadcasting over the internet, if you will. And just like traditional broadcasting, webcasting is a mostly non-interactive stream. The content can be either live or pre-recorded, but the viewing is done simultaneously.


Today, webcasts are a very popular format for independent broadcasters, news outlets, concerts, sporting events, and even weddings (so-called wedcasts). But it’s in corporate communications that webcasts truly shine. Amplified by the 2020 pandemic, medium and large enterprises around the globe use webcasting technology to reach their remote workforce, customers, and audiences. Department updates, town halls, employee summits, international conferences, and CEO briefings all rely on webcasting technology.


Webcasts’ many advantages and uses far exceed being a mere solution to bridge social distancing during CoVID:

  • Reach audiences of any scale on their device wherever they are,
  • Enrich your content with multimedia and digital tools
  • Measure the performance of your webcast with advanced analytics
  • Consolidate your company culture and employee satisfaction
  • Create urgency around your content


The fact that webcasting is video-based makes it a most powerful way to communicate with millennials. According to Forbes, 87% of millennial executives believe video positively impacts company performance and 60% of millennials prefer video over a company newsletter.




How Does a Live Webcast Work?

There are two sides to how a webcast works, the technology itself and how you make it work for your business.


The technology in a nutshell

The webcast content can be a live stream of a live event, a pre-recorded video, or a combination of both. This content is sent to a hardware or software encoder (on a desktop computer) that processes the content in real-time. More precisely, the encoder converts digital (or analog) video formats to a format that is more suitable for transmission over the internet. The transmission is broadcasted via a CDN or eCDN (Content Delivery Network) to many viewers. On the viewer’s computer, the transmission is decoded into a video format that is legible by the video player.


How to set up a webcast in 5 steps?

So, you’ll need to have the technology in place, as discussed in the previous paragraph. This can include recording gear if you plan on casting a live event (lighting, cameras, sound gear, and all other studio paraphernalia). You’ll also need a hardware encoder and a webcasting solution, like Kaltura Town Halls and Events (which has encoding technology integrated into the software, if don’t plan on using a hardware encoder).


The next 4 steps of your webcast setup are all about content and how to create a successful webcast:


  1. Plan your content – Have a playbook ready for your webcast, with answers to the important questions. What are your objectives? What content do you need to cover, to reach your objectives? When and where, will the event take place? Who will be your (guest) speakers? How can you enrich your content with multimedia (videos, slides, graphics, etc.)? What will be your webcast’s call to action? This is an important step. Make your content informative and engaging.


  1. Promote your webcast – This can be as simple as an email and a calendar invitation to your employees, or as elaborate as a full-fledged marketing plan, including landing pages, email, and social media campaigns (PPC, influencer marketing, etc.)


  1. Run your webcast with engagement in mind – This boils down to your creativity and the capabilities of your webcasting solution. Of course, it’s mostly the content that will keep the viewers at the edge of their seats. But you can do much more to keep your audience engaged: polls, quizzes, Q&As, social media, and hotspots (for VOD).


  1. Follow up – circle back to your webcast’s call to action. Follow up on your webcast with an email to maximize the success of your call-to-action. If you use Kaltura’s webcasting solution, you’ll also have access to a whole range of analytics, measuring Quality of Service, engagement, and attendee participation. These analytics will help you measure the performance against your KPIs and optimize the process for your future webcasts.


For more tips on how to launch better webcasts, click here.




Webcasts, Podcasts, Webinars, … What Are the Differences?

You might be confused as to what the difference is between webcasts, podcasts, webinars, and web conferencing. Here’s how to easily distinguish these various forms of online communication:


Webcast vs Web conferencing

Web conferencing is a fancy word for online meetings. The kind you would run on meeting solutions like Kaltura Meetings. The main difference is that a webcast is a point-to-many communication, whereas a web conference is a many-to-many interaction. You would use online meetings for situations where all attendees are expected to contribute to and collaborate on the meeting topics. To allow for such interaction, the number of participants in an online meeting is limited. Webcasts are the preferred solution for getting a message across to a larger audience.


Webcast vs Webinar

The word webinar is a contraction of “web” and “seminar” and is the best solution for workshops, lectures, or presentations to a smaller audience. Typically, the audience for a webinar is well below a hundred participants. Audience interaction is also higher for webinars. Webcasts can host hundreds to thousands of attendees and offer limited opportunities for audience feedback (though Kaltura’s webcast solution has powerful engagement and interaction features, but more on that later).


Webcast vs Podcast

The difference between webcasts and podcasts is clear and the confusion exists only because of the similar names. Podcasting refers to thematic episodes of audio-only content. Podcasts are also only available on-demand, on audio marketplaces such as iTunes or Spotify. This couldn’t be any further from webcasting, where audiovisual content streams are broadcasted live to a large audience from a dedicated URL.



5 Webcasting Use Cases

Webcasts, being point-to-many broadcasts over the internet to large audiences, form an excellent format for the following business use cases:


  1. Company town halls

Maintaining effective communication, leadership, and company culture gets more complicated in a growing company. This is especially true if (part of) your staff operates remotely. Webcasts enable connection with your employees at scale and in an engaging way. It’s a great channel to align your workforce with the company’s strategy and vision. Connecting regularly with your employees through webcasts also increases confidence and transparency, which are known to improve employee motivation and performance. Webcasts aren’t limited to town halls for your internal communication. They work great for CEO/President briefings and department updates, too.


  1. Live conference meetings

Don’t be limited by the four walls of your company conference room but use it as a base from which to broadcast your conference meeting live to an unlimited audience.  Webcasts are a great solution for adding an online component to your physical meeting or for panel discussions or keynotes you want to share with a broader audience.


meeting webcast


  1. Product launches

Ever watched one of Apple’s infamous product launches? These are webcasts. Apple presents its new product releases and innovations in live on-stage virtual events to which a huge international audience tunes in. The webcast format allows for engaging product demonstrations, keynote introductions, workshop breakout rooms, and many other ways to hype up your new products.


  1. Investor relations

Investors and other stakeholders are vital to the success of a company. Maintaining healthy relationships with them is key. They want detailed information and a transparent look into your company’s operations. With multimedia tools such as slides and video and a Q&A session, a webcast can help you deliver a professional and engaging overview of your company’s performance.


  1. Virtual Events

Some virtual events are elaborate productions with multiple tracks containing live as well as on-demand sessions, spanning over several days. This type of virtual event requires a more robust solution, like Kaltura Virtual Events. For simpler virtual events that consist of a single live stream of content, such a solution might be overkill. In those cases, event webcasting is a perfect fit.




Town Halls – Kaltura’s Webcasting Solution

If your company or business needs a webcasting solution, then consider Kaltura’s flexible and reliable webcast platform, Kaltura Town Halls and Live Events.


Kaltura’s webcast software is the most comprehensive solution on the market. Any tool or feature you could wish for is included:


  • A fully branded experience with your company’s look and feel
  • A reliable and high-quality stream to an unlimited audience
  • Engagement tools such as polls, moderated Q&A, and slide sync
  • Advanced real-time analytics
  • Easy transition from live webcast to VOD
  • Video editing suite
  • Hotspots, captions, and translations for improved accessibility
  • Landing pages and webcast app
  • Seamless integration into your existing systems and workflows
  • Live-stream backup
  • Industry grade security and privacy features
  • Optional white-glove production service
  • … and more.


Best of all, Kaltura Town Halls and Live Events is easy to use. You can live stream directly from your computer without production overhead. With Kaltura, you can focus on what matters most, your content!


See for yourself, request a demo!

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