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Like so many American workplaces, my campus moved this year to a lot of virtual interactions and events. I work in live events management, so I mostly dealt with a lot of Zooms and Blue Jeans, but one department wanted to put some graphics on top of their faces and livestream and OBS feed up to YouTube. For the most part it worked very well but we had one hiccup that I'm wondering whether I addressed it incorrectly.

They sent me a stream key three weeks in advance and began publicizing the URL of their November 11 event, which would happen at 7pm. That day, I plugged the key into OBS and at 6:30, I began sending the feed. An employee in their department misunderstood her instructions and pressed Go live in her YouTube interface at, say, 6:40 (for a 7pm go). At 6:44 she realized her error and pressed End stream.

From YouTube's perspective, we had streamed our four-minute event , and it was over. I couldn't find any way (in the ten minutes I had between 6:50 and 7pm, once I got logged in with their YT credentials) to tell YT I pressed stop accidentally, please let me send content to that URL again

Now, this didn't matter very much in the big scheme, because, as you may have noticed, this was at 7pm EST on November 11. Our link hiccup was overshadowed by YT's massive failure at exactly that moment.

I'm wondering, though, as a relative novice - what's a best practices for live streaming content in this way? Is there a way I could have pushed my content through to the original URL (barring the big collapse)? The system I was part of (here's a stream key, you only have one shot at it) seemed sort of fragile and I wondered whether I'm misunderstanding my role in it.

(And yes, of course, we're doing some of these again this spring, so I'm trying to lay groundwork.)

Thanks in advance for insights / opinions / name-calling.

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Is there a way I could have pushed my content through to the original URL (barring the big collapse)?

That's not possible unfortunately, once you stop the live event the content that was ingested is made available for on demand streaming and no more live content can be streamed to YouTube.

If you think about it, it would be difficult to do otherwise, because multiple sequences of the stream would need to be stitched together and that could be confusing for users who watch the recording.

The thing that YouTube tolerates by default is the fact that you might stop and resume ingesting content after you press the Go Live button but before stopping the event. I say "by default" because on Facebook, for example, the default behaviour is actually the opposite: if you accidentally stop streaming in OBS or have a network issue, the stream is stopped automatically and you cannot resume it. (I've seen this happen a number of times, it's a quite common problem.)

The system I was part of (here's a stream key, you only have one shot at it) seemed sort of fragile and I wondered whether I'm misunderstanding my role in it.

The stream key is simply a string that you use to authenticate with YouTube, and YouTube actually allows you to reuse the same key between live streams!

What you should do in your case is simply make sure that the Go Live button is pressed at the right time :)

If it's pressed too early, there's no point in stopping the stream! Going live 20 minutes before the event is perfectly fine and it's actually a very common and recommended practice. While users wait, you can show a placeholder message like "We'll be live at 7 PM". This allows you to check that everything is fine in practice with actual YouTube apps (cough November 11 cough), and also gives users a sense that everything's fine and the event is going to start.

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  • Thanks for your thoughtful, thorough answer. One question, which my campus client posed to me: would we get more control (like, URL-level control) with a paid account at Vimeo or any similar service? – Richmilnix Feb 12 at 18:48
  • I don't have direct experience with Vimeo but it seems to be very similar to YouTube: you still have to create an event, go live and then stop it. You might have more control and customization options with other services like JW Player, Dacast or IBM Video but... Is it worth it? – mcont Feb 12 at 23:03
  • Nope! Thanks again. – Richmilnix Feb 13 at 1:20

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