Have you ever wondered what the impact to your data plan would be if you were to live stream using your smartphone to Periscope, your Facebook profile or a Facebook Page?
I always live stream on my mobile device either using or tethering to one of my devices that has an unlimited data plan or to using a wifi connection (often my own portable wifi if I am live streaming at large events).
Recently I was asked what data would be required to live stream by someone who did not have an unlimited plan, so over the last week I have been experimenting and testing and I was actually surprised at the results, so much so that we tested with several tools to measure data use for mobile live streaming.
The results of my latest tests are below – I would encourage you to do your own tests of course, and you should just use these as an indication of what you might expect.
The Conditions For The Live Stream Test
To try to ensure that the same conditions were present, an iPhone 5s was used and it was connected to wifi – the phone data was turned off. The tool used in the tests reported here was the Download Meter app on iOS. This allowed us to check both upload and download data. The tests all took place in the same location on the 5 August.
For the purpose of the tests, each live stream was for the duration of two minutes.
In each case we allowed for the live stream to be uploaded to the app so that people could watch the replay and we also downloaded the recording to the camera roll – the downloading of the recording is not currently possible on my Android device using the Facebook Profile or Facebook Page app, hence the decision to use the iPhone 5s for the testing.
All apps used were up-to-date as 5 August 2016.
No special features such as drawing on the live stream which you can do with Periscope and Facebook live streams, or using filters that you can do with Facebook live streams were used, to try and replicate the same conditions for each test.
The Summary Of The Test To Establish How Much Data Mobile Live Streaming Using Periscope And Facebook Requires
Below you will find a table summarising the results of the test. You will see there is some fluctuation in the data for the three tests – each app was tested three times.
I have posted the specific test results as recorded by the Download Meter app below.
How Much Data Is Needed To Live Stream Using Periscope?
When live streaming from the Periscope app the settings were adjusted so that the recording would be saved to the camera roll.
No action is needed to upload the live stream to be available for replay in the app.
You will see that in summary the average total data required to live stream for 2 minutes using the Periscope app was 11.53 MB – this equates to 5.765 MB per minute.
How Much Data Is Needed To Live Stream Using The Facebook App To Your Facebook Profile?
When live streaming from the Facebook app to your profile you are prompted to download the recording which we did.
You are also prompted to upload the live stream to be available for people to view – again we did this.
You will see that in summary the average total data required to live stream for 2 minutes using the Facebook app was 32.57 MB – this equates to 16.285 MB per minute.
My conclusion was that due to the fact that you have to tell the app to upload the replay, this accounts for the large amount of data for the live stream.
How Much Data Is Needed To Live Stream Using The Facebook Page App To Your Facebook Page?
When live streaming from the Facebook Pages app to your Page you are prompted to download the recording which we did.
You do not need to tell the app to upload the replay to your Page – this is what I think is the key difference between streaming to your Page and your Profile and results in the significantly different data requirements.
You will see that in summary, the average total data required to live stream for 2 minutes using the Facebook Pages app was 10.67 MB – this equates to 5.335 MB per minute.
What We Did Not Test
On Facebook you can use Facebook live in Groups and Events – if you live stream to those locations you may want to do your own independent tests.
What Does This Mean For Live Streamers?
In the tests that we did over the last week with different data meters, the conclusions were similar – that Facebook Live streaming to your profile will demand significantly more data (at this time) than live streaming to Periscope or to your Facebook Page using your Pages app.
There are advantages of live streaming to your Facebook Profile – and there are advantages of live streaming to your Facebook page. But if you want to try to minimise the data for mobile live streaming, then you may wish to use the Periscope app or the Facebook Pages app.
Out of interest, we also tested the amount of data required to watch a live stream on Periscope and Facebook. We found it to difficult using the methodology for our tests to be conclusive for Facebook live streams as when you open up a page or profile on the app the video was immediately playing so was being cached.
However, when it came to watching a Periscope replay, we found that it required an average of 10.4 MB for 2 minutes of viewing – this equates to 5.2 MB per minute. This is therefore similar to what we found the data requirement to be for live streaming using Periscope.
If you decide to do similar tests, do let me know your conclusions.
Bottom line, if you want to use mobile live streaming apps, be prepared to pay for your data and perhaps invest in an unlimited data plan or use wifi to live stream.
And if you are watching lots of live streams, be aware that the live streams are costing you time and money – that is why in our weekly shows we have a strict format so people know what to expect as we value our audiences data and their time!
If you need assistance in understanding and learning how to integrate live streaming into your communications plan, you can schedule a confidential online meeting with me here.