What the HECK is Custom RTMP?

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to conduct a live stream? Multiple technical processes are involved in taking a single live video and audio source and broadcasting it to a location or streaming platform or service so that one or more viewers can watch it live. Well, in the live streaming supply chain, there are many ways to go live. In this short post, I'd like to unpack the definition of Custom RTMP.

Streaming Destination

When starting a live stream, you need to know where your video is going to go. At Switchboard Live, we call these endpoint destinations; Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube are common destinations. Destinations are where users will view your live stream.

When connecting your live video source to a destination, you need two main pieces of information provided to you by the destination provider and necessary when streaming live video. The first item is called the server or stream URL. I've also heard this term referenced as the "RTMP URL." One way to look at this concept is to think of the stream/server URL as a city. The city represents a single destination that you will stream your upcoming fireside chat or product launch to, and people in the city will watch it.

Server URL

In this scenario, our city will be YouTube. The Server URL for YouTube is rtmp://x.rtmp.youtube.com. This is the first piece of information necessary when streaming live video via Custom RTMP. The server URL or stream URL typically doesn't change and remains constant once established, kind of like the name of a city.

The second piece of information that is needed is the stream key or stream name. If we were to continue along the lines of the city concept, the stream key would be the numerical address of a house in the city

Stream Key

Many years ago, I lived in San Bruno, CA (birthplace of YouTube), and my house’s address at that time was unique to me and no one else, for example, 4321. A house address is similar to a stream key/name. It is a unique set of characters, letters, or numbers assigned to only you, allowing your source live video stream to be received and accepted onto the destination platform. For example, bzst-8qq7-5y5s-11tp-415x could be a Stream Key assigned to me via YouTube.

If you know the city your friend lives in but don't have the numerical house address, you will have difficulty connecting with them. That is the same with the stream key; you will need this key to ensure a successful connection to the destination platform.

Both pieces of information, server URL and stream key, make up a custom RTMP destination.

In the next post, we will discuss when to use a Custom RTMP destination and the pros and cons.

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