Online streaming is such a booming business nowadays, so booming that the industry is worth a whopping $6 billion. 

So lucrative is the business that many people have made streaming their full-time jobs. Especially with platforms like Twitch and its growth, streaming may be becoming the next YouTubing.

One of the main reasons behind its popularity is how easy it is to get started. 

All you need is the best streaming software and a niche, such as gaming or fashion, and you are good to go. 

While choosing the proper niche is undoubtedly essential, the more crucial element is the software you choose. 

If you choose a bad software, you will spend more time troubleshooting the errors rather than streaming. 

So to help you out, here’s a list of the top 7 best streaming software in 2021.

Top 7 Best Streaming Software in 2021 

There are a lot of best streaming software programs when it comes to streaming. But it’s always better to choose among the best the industry has to offer than to skim through all the corners of the internet to find the one most suitable for you.

Let us begin enumerating the best streaming software in 2021.

#1 OBS (Open Broadcaster Software)

OBS is the gold standard for best streaming software. It is one of the most popular software available. What’s better is that it is entirely free.

It is open-sourced, with a great developer community backing it. As a result, it is free and popular. It lets you create great-looking broadcasts, but it severely lacks some advanced features. 

Despite that, owing to its solid dev community, the software gets regular, frequent updates. Also, if you know how to code, you can tweak the software to your specific needs.

One specific gray zone with regards to OBS is its customer support. Users aren’t provided with any dedicated team whom they can ask and who can solve their queries. For new users, this can get challenging. But if you stick around the forums, you will find good folks helping you out with your queries. 

There are also guides and videos available to help get started with the tool.

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • Multiplatform support: Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • One of the most widely used and relied-upon streaming tools
  • Does not take up a lot of CPU resources
  • Can be easily customized.

Cons

  • Multistreaming features not provided. 
  • No specific support from the team (although community support is offered)
  • Can get tough for new users

Pricing

Completely free to use. 

#2 Xsplit

Xsplit overcomes the deficiencies of OBS by providing excellent customer service. They also offer timely updates to make sure the software works smoothly.

It follows a freemium model but severely restricts some functionalities. For example, the free version puts a watermark for videos on 720p/30fps videos, while the premium version offers only MP4 and FLV formatted streams. The paid version also gives users the ability to multistream.

Another ground for contention is toward not providing presets for platforms like YouTube and Twitch. So users will need to have some encoding knowledge to set it up.

Pros

  • Supplemental third-party apps using URLs
  • Good customer support team
  • Can be easily customized
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Stable

Cons

  • Available only for Windows platform
  • Free version streams over 720p/30fps specs with a watermark on them
  • Not much difference between the paid and the free one

Notice Title

They offer two different plans: one for unlocking all the apps and the second only for the VCam app. There are four different plans offered for both of them: 3-month license, 12-month license, 36-month license, and onetime license. 
The cheapest one for the former plan starts at $24.95.

#3 Streamlabs OBS

Streamlabs OBS has a pretty fascinating history. 

Streamlabs was famous for streaming for gamers. It was primarily used along with some other best streaming software. Most people went for OBS. 

The developers behind Streamlabs thought it was only logical to join hands with OBS, and thus Streamlabs OBS (also known as SLOBS) came into existence.

Its interface is the same as OBS, except Streamlabs is much more user-friendly and professional. 

It can even be said that it is like an advanced version of OBS. A lot of features in OBS had to be accessed through plug-ins, features such as social widgets and face masks. All those features come packed with Streamlabs OBS. 

Unlike OBS, it provides you with dedicated customer support along with a dedicated Discord server to get help in real time. 

Pros

  • Feature-rich software for users to create complex streams
  • Takes only a small portion of the CPU’s resources
  • Totally free to use
  • Beginner-friendly and comfortable user interface
  • Specifically gamer-friendly for streams

Cons

  • Available only for Windows 
  • Bug complaints about bugs, possibly because of its open-sourced nature
  • No dedicated customer support 

Pricing

Free to use.

#4 WireCast

WireCast is an easy-to-start but hard-to-master tool. The interface is well designed and is beginner-friendly. But it packs so many features that it can quickly get tough to explore all of them.

It is feature-packed, with both the studio and the pro versions giving users their money’s worth. Both versions have features such as animated graphics and 3D titles, multistream option, unlimited capturing of videos, etc.

The pro version takes it a step forward with more offerings, such as instant replays, live scoreboards, NDI outputs, and so on.

The developer behind the software, Telestream, is a well-known company. It offers users constant updates for the software along with a solid customer support. There’s even an option to buy premium support (at $299/year) that will take care of all your concerns as soon as possible.

Pros

  • Works on Mac and Windows platforms
  • Constant updates with regular features
  • Lots of advanced features
  • Quality customer support
  • Good software layout

Cons

  • More expensive compared to others on the list
  • Resource-intensive software can be straining on CPU

Pricing

WireCast is offered in two different versions: WireCast Studio and WireCast Pro. 
The studio version starts at $599, whereas the pro version starts at $799.

#5 Nvidia Shadowplay

Nvidia’s Shadowplay comes bundled with their GeForce graphics cards.

It was built for people who stream games. Streaming games takes a lot of resources. First there’s the game requiring CPU’s resources, and then there’s streaming on top of it that has its own processing requirements. 

Nvidia decided to build a product that takes care of that. 

Unlike other software on the list, it makes use of the GPU over the CPU. This leaves the CPU free for gaming and doesn’t have to dedicate crucial CPU resources to the streaming application.

It packs a really fast encoder, but it tends to blur some of the specific game details as a compromise. Also, it lacks some basic features such as overlays. 

Pros

  • Unlike the other tools on the list, GPU instead of CPU gives better performance without additional strain on your device
  • Gives a fabulous performance for local recording
  • Lots of shortcuts are included, which makes recording videos easier
  • Free to use

Cons

  • Requires an NVIDIA graphics card to work, costing a hefty sum
  • Good streaming only at high bit rates; distorted streaming at low bit rates
  • Advanced features such as plug-in support or graphic overlays not provided

Pricing

Free to use.

#6 Lightstream

To describe it in as few words as possible: Lightstream is to live streaming as Google Docs is to document editing

Using Lightstream, everything is processed on the cloud. The video is sourced from the user’s computer, but all other processes, like encoding, are done on the cloud. 

Through this process, you cut down on CPU usage just like Shadowplay. In fact, the developers behind it guarantee that it takes lesser CPU usage compared to any other software for the same picture quality. 

Some of the users might have concerns over streaming over the cloud. But it makes sure to give stream watchers the perfect experience. It fluctuates the bit rates to avoid buffering. It also automatically selects the best encoding settings available. 

Pros

  • Can easily be set up as an easy-to-use interface
  • Takes fewer CPU resources to operate
  • Cloud-based browser application, so no need to install anything
  • Live chat support feature included
  • Completely free

Cons

  • Advanced features not provided
  • Users’ complaints about sound issues
  • Mainly streams in 720p resolution

Pricing

Free to use. 

#7 vMix

vMix is designed for professionals. It offers superb features such as animated overlays, live video effects, and instant replays, to name a few. Another underrated thing about the tool is its ability to deal with multiple inputs: webcams, NDI, sound cards, DVDs, etc. 

Its multitiered pricing plan is its standout feature. 

Users usually have different needs, and accordingly, it is tough to find a software that suits them. With vMix’s six different plans, every type of user is catered to. 

The software interface can be hard to use at the beginning, owing to so many offered features. But they offer users good technical support to help them out.

Pros

  • Provides a professional-level experience using the tool
  • Packed with a lot of advanced features
  • Solid customer support to clear your doubts and concerns

Cons

  • Available only for Windows
  • Not beginner-friendly and takes time to get used to 

Pricing

There are four different plans to choose from: Basic HD, HD, 4K, and Pro. 
The cheapest one, Basic HD, has a onetime fee of $60.

Comparison Table


Software


UI


Support


CPU Usage


Platform


Pricing


OBS


Hard


No dedicated support


Moderate


Windows/Mac/Linux


Free


XSplit


Easy


Good customer support


Less


Windows


Starts at $24.45 for all-inclusive plan


Streamlabs OBS


Easy


No dedicated support


Less


Windows


Free


WireCast


Moderate


Good customer support


More


Mac/Windows


Starts at $599

Nvidia Shadowplay


Easy


Moderate customer support


Least


Windows


Free


Lightstream


Easy


No dedicated support


Least


Cloud


Free


vMix


Hard


Good customer support


More


Windows


Starts at $60

Conclusion

These are some of the best streaming software available in the market right now. Choosing a software is hard, even when you have to choose only among these seven best tools. 
One way to go about it is to make a list of your priorities, checking out which software ticks more boxes.