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4 open source tools #NABshow attendees can use to be their own broadcaster

4 min read

It's that time again: the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas is in full swing. Broadcast professionals from all over the world gather in one place to discuss new technologies and strategies in a rapidly changing landscape.

I've been to NAB for a couple of years running - coming from the web world, it's always interesting to see what the broadcast industry considers to be the latest and greatest. Broadcasting is going through a lot of changes at the hands of the Internet, and some companies are adjusting better than others.

The days when broadcasters needed expensive licenses and millions of dollars of equipment are long gone. With more and more people hooking up to broadband Internet, both at home and on their mobile devices, it's cheaper than ever before to reach a wide audience with broadcast content.

Of course, Known allows anyone to easily publish content on their own site, including embedded media streams, and it works great for hosting podcasts.

Meanwhile, our Matter stablemate Stringr is at the show, helping anyone get up-to-date news footage using the power of the crowd. Our friends at latakoo help enterprises like NBC News send video fast, to anyone in the world, in the right format.

Those key pieces can help you get up and running quickly. But in addition to those, what open source software can anyone in the world use, right now, to be their own broadcaster?

Here are my picks:



Airtime lets you broadcast streaming radio on the web, both directly and using playlists. It's designed to be impressively easy to use, taking a lot of the guesswork out of live streaming.

Unlike many live streaming solutions, Airtime is actually designed to be used in a station context, so it also has user-based permissions for various station roles, and it allows you to dynamically put incoming audio on air. For example, you could use Airtime to run a phone-in show. It also includes listener statistics and widgets you can place on your own website.

A hosted version is available, so you don't need to get into the technical details if you don't want to, but the code is available on GitHub.



Okay, I'm biased: Kickflip is another awesome Matter company. But with fully open source SDKs for both iOS and Android which allow you to add live video to any mobile application, they're a very easy way to create new kinds of video media experiences that make use of the devices we're all carrying in our pockets.

Their code is available on GitHub, and their broadcast infrastructure is easy to get started with.


Open Broadcaster Software

With its ability to broadcast directly from your desktop and deep multimedia compatibility, OBS has found a home with the gamer community. Gamers use it to broadcast directly to sites like Twitch, but that's not all it's useful for.

OBS can take video input from a camera, as well as from a web browser - allowing you to use your web as your mixing desk. You could bring video footage into a browser window, overlay content using HTML5, and then broadcast it to the world. Mix incoming social media streams, chat windows, live incoming video footage and more; the possibilities are endless.

You don't need to live stream: you can also encode to an h.264 MP4 file, for distribution or later broadcast.

And yes, their code is all available on GitHub.



One of the longer-running open source broadcast platforms, Icecast allows you to stream audio using the SHOUTcast protocol, which has been used by Internet radio stations for over a decade. The protocol itself isn't open source, but the platform is, and the result is that it's compatible with a host of file formats.

Open source development is centered around their bugtracker, although they do also mirror to GitHub.


What else would you add to the list?