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Live Streaming Encoder Options for Endzone Camera Systems

Live streaming is only growing more popular by the minute, especially with the impact of COVID-19. With many people spending most of their time at home due to fan restrictions, they’ve begun to rely on live streaming content, especially for events that typically involve a live audience. With this surge in demand for live streaming content, it’s become more crucial than ever to deliver a smooth, seamless, and high-quality live stream.

To do this, you’ll need to have the right equipment, such as a sideline camera, a video camera tower, and an encoder. Here’s some helpful information about encoders and why they’re essential for a top-notch live streaming setup with your endzone camera system:

What is a Hardware Encoder?

Hardware encoders are dedicated processors that broadcasters use to provide their audiences with the most professional live streams. They use an algorithm to compress video files and turn them into a more optimal format for live streaming. These devices vary in shape and size, ranging from small, portable ones to large, bulky units. 

These devices offer the best in streaming quality, which is why they’re most suitable for professional broadcasters. However, they come with a premium price tag due to their status as high-end equipment. That said, there are a few options in the marketplace that offer a more affordable price tag. Encoders such as VidiU and Tricaster to name a few. Don’t let the price of these encoders scare you off. There are also more software encoders available that are available at a much lower price point. 

What’s the Difference Between a Hardware and Software Encoder?

Before you commit to buying a hardware encoder for your live streaming setup, you’ll first need to determine your streaming goals. They will ultimately decide on the equipment that works best for you, ensuring you don’t overpay for something you don’t need. 

Although hardware encoders are generally more powerful and compact, they may be beyond many team’s budgets. They have everything you need for encoding, have low latency, top encoding speed, and are incredibly reliable. Still, they may not have some of the functionalities found in software encoders, and may not support some video codecs due to how fast new video formats are released. With that said, hardware encoders are definitely investments.

On the other hand, software encoders are more affordable and flexible. They are digital and do not have hardware, which means they depend on your laptop’s CPU to perform. While your laptop is much larger than most hardware encoders, it’s able to ingest multiple feeds, function as switchers, are equipped with many streaming-related effects, support numerous video codecs, and more. In short, you may get more functionality and ‘bang for your buck’ using a software encoder. They also provide users with outstanding customizability, and the best part is that they’re affordable. Some programs are even free. A few software encoders include OBS Studio, vMix, Wirecast, and VLC to name a few.

What are the Best Hardware Encoders for Live Streaming?

There are three major hardware encoder brands: Niagara, TriCaster, and TeraDek. They offer the best devices on the market and provide various products that will take your live streaming to the next level.

TriCaster is a hardware encoder from NewTek that is specially designed for professional broadcasters. It has five product lines, offering streamers related products besides coders. TriCaster products also come with customizable software, making it easier to manage multi-camera setups. However, it isn’t beginner-friendly, the hardware tends to be bulky and unwieldy, and it is very costly.

TeraDek is excellent for streaming on the games and tournaments since it produces sleek, portable encoders with a long battery life. Despite being light and compact, they pack a punch in power. They provide streamers with excellent streaming quality, easy usability, and compatibility with TeraDek’s Live:Air apps. 

Lastly, Niagara is a reputable brand with numerous encoding product options. As one of the more well-known brands in the industry, they offer just about everything a live broadcaster may need. They have portable encoding solutions, high-quality streaming, and real-time encoding with numerous outputs. Their one disadvantage is that they have obscure pricing.


There’s a live streaming encoder option for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a professional broadcaster. By deciding on your streaming goals, you can choose the perfect encoder to go with your end zone camera system!

Hi Rise Camera sells top-of-the-line endzone camera systems perfect for capturing high-angle and aerial video footage. Our products are versatile and can be used to shoot any sporting event. Check out our video camera towers today!