Video streaming vs. video conferencing: Understanding a growing market

By | 4 minute read | May 28, 2020

Video is on the rise. That’s not a new trend, especially for business purposes. In fact, from interviewing over 2,000 executives in late 2019, Wainhouse Research found that 83% of them watched online video for business applications. What’s more, consumption is on the rise, with 14% of respondents having watched business-related video for more than three hours a week, up from 7% in the prior year.

Part of this rise is attributed to an increase in people working remotely — 72% of respondents in the 2019 Forrester Global Workforce Recontact Survey indicated they collaborate with remote colleagues daily. And outside factors have caused remote working to skyrocket in 2020. As a result, video has become a valuable tool that can enable remote workers, conduct live events, execute marketing activities and more.

To better understand these different video strategies, keep reading or check out this quick video.

Streaming vs. conferencing

Video conferencing

Essentially, video conferencing or video collaboration is two-way video. All participants have the option to participate verbally and, if they choose, on camera.  And this structure makes video conferencing ideal for smaller groups, while larger groups may run into problems with stability or distracting cross-talk. Use cases often include team meetings or one-on-one sessions to connect remote workers.

Typically, this technology must be installed prior to initiating or participating in a session. And as the name implies, these solutions offer a great medium to collaborate toward a common goal, offering features like screen sharing to foster collaboration among employees.

Video streaming

Video streaming, on the other hand, is best thought of as a one-to-many video solution. In this case, only the presenter — or presenters — are on camera and able to speak. Viewers are unable to communication over video or voice, although Q&A features can provide text-based feedback to the presenters.

Generally, with this medium, nothing needs to be installed as most modern browsers can play video. Streaming can be used for virtually any size group, with some providers supporting up to a million viewers without stability issues. It’s also built to archive, making content available after a session for those who missed it live. Common use cases include training, executive townhalls and all-hands meetings with a fixed set of speakers.

Picking the optimal video medium

Generally, you will want to leverage both technologies. You’ll need something to address large audiences, that can scale without crashing while acting as a repository of valuable information.

And you’ll also need something that can allow people to collaborate with one another. Something that can take the place of an in-person group meeting and bring remote employees together to work towards a common goal.

Deployment considerations

As you consider adopting video, there are a few things to consider. First is the impact to your network. Incorporate your IT department into your video strategy. They’ll need to be able to vet any platform you consider, verifying that it can be used without hampering existing infrastructure, whether that is through an on-premise network or a VPN.

Next, consider scale. As noted, video streaming is generally built to accommodate larger audiences, and you should determine a reasonable upper limit for your needs. Compare this figure against how large of an audience the service you’re considering has been able to historically reach.

Being inclusive and building an archive

Another element to keep in mind is accessibility — particularly making content consumable to those who are hard of hearing or whose first language might be different from the video material. In both cases, closed captions can be a way to address this need.

For IBM’s video streaming solutions, we leverage IBM® Watson® to help automate this process, transcribing spoken words into captions for live or on-demand video. And for improved accuracy, the AI can be taught new words as well — anything from a speaker’s name to products or concepts.

In addition, these live streams and uploaded videos can work to build up a searchable archive based on keywords and what was transcribed by IBM Watson. What’s more, users can leverage this AI-driven search to look inside videos as well, enabling users to jump to the moment in the video where the topic is brought up.


From hosting visionary town halls to collaborative meetings, video can provide a viable solution in times of uncertainty — all while working to build a long term, valuable, accessible archive of video material. And IBM’s video streaming solutions from IBM Watson Media are now available to users in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as part of the IBM Partner Marketplace for Cloud Aggregator and Cloud Marketplace Provider program.

APIs are now available to add IBM Watson Media to your digital marketplace portfolio. Get started with 3 simple steps:

  1. Integrate the APIs into your platform, including the free trial
  2. Utilize the Partner Marketplace Activation Kit with client-facing assets, sales enablement and webinars
  3. Promote the launch of IBM Watson Media on your marketplace and start selling