How YouTube is revolutionising live streaming

Love festivals and live sports? YouTube, VR headsets, 4K TVs and super-sharp laptops are bringing them to your living room…

12 Dec 2016


When it comes to watching music festivals or live sports events at home you can make the experience much better with a large-screen TV and a soundbar.

But living room live events will be even more immersive thanks to latest plans from YouTube. The video-sharing site has plans to live stream events in 4K resolution in both standard video and 360-degree video – so whether you’re watching on your TV, laptop or through a VR headset you’re in for a treat.


What is 360-degree video?

360-degree video is designed to get the best from VR headsets like the Oculus Rift or Google Daydream. But it also creates a really cool viewing experience when watched on a laptop.

It’s video that records all 360-degrees of a scene so when watched back through a VR headset things can be seen from the sides and above and below – putting the wearer in the thick of the action.

When viewed on a laptop, you can adjust the video to see things from different angles – i.e. stage-side, or from above – by dragging the screen to the different perspectives using your mouse.

Smartphones are also good for watching 360 video. As you move your phone around in your hand the video will shift to different angles. These videos are recorded on special cameras. And YouTube, along with Facebook, has pioneered 360 video. BBC Planet Earth and NASA videos of outer space are among the current highlights.


What is 4K?

The best TVs you can buy today have 4K UHD resolution – and an increasing number of premium laptops boast 4K displays. But to get the best from them you need 4K content.

YouTube is a major provider of 4K content along with Netflix and Amazon. It says it has the ‘largest library of 4K videos online’ with ‘millions’ to choose from. But until now it hasn’t been able to stream live events in 4K.


YouTube and live streaming

YouTube already streams some live events in HD, such as music festival Coachella. Earlier this year it began streaming 360-degree video as well as regular footage.

Now it’s going to begin streaming at 4K resolution for both standard and 360-degree video. By opening it up to 4K, streaming content will look and feel much better. With 8 million pixels, 4K has ‘four times more image definition than even 1080p video’.

YouTube promises:

  • A ‘detailed, crisper picture’
  • Live streams that ‘aren’t as blurry when there’s fast action on screen’ 
  • Content that ‘looks silky smooth’

‘Get ready for 360 concert and event streams that look sharper, cleaner, and brighter than ever before,’ says the YouTube blog. Of course you’ll need to be watching a 4K supported device.

YouTube launched the service by live streaming The Games Awards 2016 in 4K - you can check it out here.


How to get the best from YouTube’s new live streams

1. 360-degree video live streamed in 4K

To enjoy 360-degree live streams in super-sharp 4K resolution you’ll want a laptop with a 4K screen like the ASUS ZenBook Pro. YouTube videos will look superb on its 15.6-inch 4K resolution screen – you can use your fingertips to adjust angles using the touchscreen controls.

4K streaming of 360 video can ‘can truly transport you,’ says YouTube.

Get the ASUS ZenBook Pro


2. 4K live streaming of regular video

To create a super-sharp main event in your living room combine a YouTube 4K live stream of Coachella or suchlike with a large-screen 4KTV like the Samsung KS8000 which was named What Hi-Fi Sound & Vision’s TV of the year.

Get the Samsung KS8000 


3. 360-video in VR

For the best experience when watching 360 video you want a VR headset. The easiest way to get started with YouTube in VR is the Google Daydream View headset or the Samsung Gear VR. These budget-friendly headsets run off your smartphone – but you won’t be able to stream the 360 video in 4K resolution. 

Did you know? Even without a VR headset, smartphones are good for watching 360 video – this is because they have gyroscopes that work with the video to switch angle as your phone moves.

Get the Samsung Gear VR 


Get the best of YouTube live streaming with our latest tech