Webcasting, which originated in the mid-Nineties, is an increasingly common application of online technologies that benefit businesses and consumers alike. But what is a webcast? Indeed, it's become so ubiquitous, you may not recognize some of the content you consume online as a webcast. However, understanding the definition of a webcast, webcasting's benefits, and how webcasts work is vital to leveraging this application to make communication across your organization cheaper, quicker, and more accessible than ever before!

What is a Webcast?

A webcast is an online broadcast of your meeting, presentation, or other events. It is usually broadcast live using streaming media technologies and recorded simultaneously. The recording may be replayed at a later date for new audiences or shared with initial audience members for reference purposes. Webcasting is often used by television and radio stations that simultaneously broadcast (simulcast) their live programming online and in the entertainment industry. The simulcast of live performances is increasingly common. Traditional businesses, especially those with multisite teams, satellite workers, and remote workers, also use webcasting for meetings, conferences, training, and other operational functions.
Webcasts are often mistaken for webinars. Which is why understanding the definition of a webcast is important. Webinars are online organizational gatherings in which interaction is critical. They are often held using videoconferencing software, with the presenter or presenters making ample use of interactive tools, like Breakout Sessions, Whiteboards, and Polls. Thus, webinars are designed for groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred. Webinars may, in fact, be broadcast online (webcast) live so that more people can watch the event.
By contrast, webcasts are online gatherings primarily designed with larger audiences, in the thousands or tens of thousands, in mind. Also, webcasts typically are structured and designed to be one-to-many or a few-to-many broadcasts. Think of a television news program where anchors are speaking to you without two-way interaction. Webcasts can be used to broadcast standard training courses to a large workforce, display corporate Board meetings to the public, or showcase a new product to consumers online, among other applications.

Why Webcast?

Webcasts allow you to increase the audience size for your event. When you broadcast online, people no longer need to be in the same room with you to watch your meeting, learn from your seminar, or witness your presentation. Webcasts allow you to share your event with co-workers, clients, and other key stakeholders across the country and across the globe.
Because a webcast is broadcast online, anyone with an Internet-connected device can see your event. Viewers can use smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktops to connect wherever they are, consequently eliminating the logistical hurdles and costs of on-site attendance. You no longer need to absorb the costs of staff traveling to a regional office for a regional sales presentation or a conference guest speakers' lodging expenses.
Finally, given that webcasts are recorded, people who missed your event can view it at a later date. You can give the recording to a colleague who was out sick on the day of the broadcast when they return to work. You can also repurpose webcast recordings for other internal training materials or marketing pieces.

How to Make a Webcast

You'll need a few items to get started with your webcast. Of course, you'll need content, which might include one or several presenters, recorded audio or video, or other material. You should start to nail down your presentation well before you start worrying about the technical side, especially since webcasts don't take that long to set up with today's tools. As you start to nail your content down, you'll need to determine the device from which you'll be streaming.
If your webcast consists of your CEO addressing the workforce, then a desktop or laptop may be sufficient. However, if you wish to capture multiple speakers and activities, you'll likely need multiple cameras and mics, as well as an encoder. An encoder is a software application or hardware application that can convert video files from their existing format to one suitable for streaming.
You'll also need an easy-to-use live-streaming service, like BlueJeans, preferably one with built-in encoding software. When comparing options, look for services that provide multiple on-camera presenters and video layouts, integration with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, large audience sizes, and secure access control.
Need to address a broad audience soon? Try BlueJeans Events for free to quickly and easily stream your webcast anywhere across the globe.