Livestreaming Glossary: 40+ Terms Defined

Use this free cheat sheet to decode the confusing terminology that you’ll encounter when broadcasting online.

Livestreaming is a popular way to share content over the internet. Whether it’s game walkthroughs, educational how-tos, or talk shows, there’s a vast community of streamers to explore. Many streamers even make a living out of it, generating a large and regular audience, though success won’t come overnight.

No matter if you’re a newbie or veteran, livestreaming can be quite overwhelming because there’s a bunch of jargon to get your head around. That’s why we’ve created this livestreaming glossary. It’ll help you understand the complex terms that you’ll encounter on your livestreaming journey.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time. Download the Livestreaming Glossary Cheat Sheet.

Livestreaming Terms and Definitions

Adaptive streamingWhen a video player or program adjusts the quality of content being streamed based on the speed of the viewer’s internet connection. The quicker the speed, the greater the quality.
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)The most common audio codec for online videos and livestreaming.
AkamaiOne of the largest CDNs in the world, serving hundreds of countries by offering fast delivery of high-quality streams.
Aspect ratioThe ratio of a video’s width to its height. The standard broadcasting aspect ratios are 4:3 and 16:9.
Auto-archivingAlso known as live recording, this is the automatic recording of a livestream so that it’s archived and available after broadcast.
BandwidthThe amount of data transferred over a given time. This is often measured in kilobits, megabits, or gigabytes.
BitrateBits are units of data that make up a photo or video. Bitrate measures the speed of an upload/download transfer.
BondingThis allows you to combine internet connections (e.g., Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 4G) in order to establish redundancy in case of failure on an individual connection.
BufferingBuffering can be caused by low bandwidth and is a delay during the data preloading process.
Capture cardA piece of hardware that converts and transmits on-screen video to a computer for encoding. Some capture cards also handle the encoding.
Closed captioning (CC)Transcription of the video audio that overlays on streams as text.
CodecA device or software that’s capable of encoding or decoding digital information for audio and video.
CompressionVideo compression reduces the number of bits required for a video. It’s possible to reduce raw data sizes by up to a thousand times.
Content delivery network (CDN)A distribution of network servers around the globe to enable faster delivery of content to users. The stream will be transferred from the closest server to the user.
Embedded videoEmbedded videos are integrated (or embedded) into a webpage. While it looks to be part of the website, these videos are hosted using another resource, like YouTube.
EncodingThe process of converting your stream into a format that can be used on the internet for people to watch. Encoding usually happens through software like OBS, or via a hardware encoder.
FirewallA security system that blocks unauthorized access. It tracks incoming and outgoing traffic and can interfere with streaming if configured incorrectly.
Frames per second (FPS)The frequency, per second, of video frames appearing on a display. The more FPS, the smoother a video will appear.
Green screenA physical backdrop that can be digitally replaced; often used to remove a streamer’s background on camera.
H.264A video codec used to record, compress, and distribute videos.
High definition (HD)A resolution that produces high video quality. HD resolutions are usually 720p or 1080p.
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)Transfers audio and video data to and from HDMI-compatible sources using an HDMI cable.
Internet Protocol (IP) cameraThese cameras receive and send data over an internet connection.
LatencyThe difference in time between real-time and online streaming. High latency means there’s a bigger gap between when something is steamed and when the end user receives it.
LivestreamingBroadcasting video content over the internet in real-time. This can be done using a computer, laptop, smartphone, or other device.
Lossless compressionVideo and audio compression that maintains full quality from the original data source.
OBSPopular and free software for recording video and livestreaming.
Open captions (OC)Also known as hard-coded captions, they are a permanent feature of a video, meaning they can’t be turned off.
Over-the-top (OTT)Delivers video content over the internet, directly, without the need for cable or satellite television. Netflix is a great example.
Packet lossOne or more pieces of data failed to reach the destination.
Picture-in-picture (PiP)This is where you can see multiple video sources at the same time on one screen.
PingA signal test to see how fast a server receives data, often measured in milliseconds.
Playlist streamingA playlist of pre-recorded videos that go live at a pre-defined date and time.
Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)A common streaming protocol for streaming audio and video data over the internet.
Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)A network protocol to control streaming media servers, delivering to a messaging system in real-time.
ResolutionThe number of pixels in a display. For example, 1080p (Full HD) has 1920 x 1080 pixels.
SimulcastingBroadcasting a single live stream to multiple channels.
Standard definition (SD)A standard quality resolution (often 720 x 480 pixels).
Streaming keyA unique token that allows you to connect to a streaming server.
Streaming softwareSoftware that allows you to input video and convert it into a format that allows online playback.
TranscodingWhere encoded content is decoded and changed into a different format.
Upload speedThe speed in which your computer sends data from your computer to the internet.
Video hostingUploading and storing videos on a website.

Become a Livestreaming Pro

Keep our handy livestreaming glossary at your side and you’ll crack those difficult phrases and acronyms with ease.

If you’re ready to take your livestreaming to the next level, consider upgrading your gear—perhaps it’s time to invest in a new microphone or camera?

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