Teams Live Streaming Isn’t Difficult, Even for Video Novices

Stream from Teams to the World

The most recent video on the YouTube channel covers the topic of Teams live streaming to send content from Teams meetings to streaming plaforms using a preview app called Custom Streaming. It’s worth watching Practical365 video editor Steve Goodman explain how the app uses the RTMP protocol to carry video content from a Teams meeting to a streaming service (alternatively, read his write-up). It’s an interesting concept, especially in scenarios like webinars or product briefings.

I am a video neophyte. I know people like to consume information through videos, much like I consume sports. However, I have never embraced YouTube or other services for the purpose of explaining how technology works. Seeing that I am such a novice, I thought it would be interesting to follow Steve’s advice to see how easy it is to use this Teams feature. And of course, I’m writing about the experience instead of talking about it!

Updating the Teams Meeting Policy for Live Streaming

Before starting, make sure that your account is enabled for live streaming. The Teams meeting policy assigned to the account must have LiveStreamingMode set to Enabled. Microsoft often introduces new features turned on, but in this case the default for Teams meeting policies doesn’t allow users to live stream. A quick check with the Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet confirms the situation:

Get-CsTeamsMeetingpolicy | ft Identity, LiveStreamingMode

Identity                                    LiveStreamingMode
--------                                    -----------------
Global                                      Disabled
Tag:RestrictedFunctionality                 Disabled
Tag:Allow Meeting Recording                 Disabled
Tag:Contract Workers                        Disabled
Tag:No Private Meetings                     Disabled

To update a policy, run the Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet. This command updates the global (default) policy. As with most Teams policy updates, it takes some time for clients to pick up the change.

Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity "Global" -LiveStreamingMode Enabled

Setting up a Teams Meeting for Live Streaming

Next, create a Teams meeting in your calendar. To install an app, you must be the meeting organizer, so you can’t live stream from a channel meeting. Create the meeting from Outlook or the Teams calendar. You don’t need to invite anyone.

After connecting to the meeting, add the Custom Streaming app. If the policy change isn’t yet effective, you won’t be able to go any further. You’ll know if things are ready to go if the app prompts for a stream URL and key (Figure 1). These elements identify the target for Teams to transmit the live stream to and the key for the streaming service to accept the incoming video.

Getting ready to live stream from a Teams meeting
Figure 1: Getting ready to live stream from a Teams meeting

To get the stream URL and key, you must go to the target streaming service. I have a (very underused) YouTube channel, so I was able to go to YouTube Studio and create a new video there, choosing to Go Live rather than upload videos. This brings you to the screen where YouTube publishes the stream URL and key (Figure 2). Copy the URL and key and paste them into Teams.

Getting the stream URL and key from YouTube Studio
Figure 2: Getting the stream URL and key from YouTube Studio

Streaming a Meeting

I did nothing special to prepare to live stream the meeting. Video came from the inbuilt front-facing camera on my Surface Book 2, and I used Surface headphones for the speakers and microphone. Apart from that, I added a background image and turned on the brightness and soft-focus filters. I wanted to test an average video setup as much as possible, and figure that this configuration met that criterion.

When everything is ready, click Start streaming. Teams will prompt you to confirm that it should share the meeting content with an external platform. Click Allow to proceed. At this point, Teams uses the share URL to connect to the streaming platform and authenticate with the stream key. When the stream connects, you’ll see it appear in the streaming platform (Figure 3). It’s a good idea to set the privacy (visibility) for the stream to unlisted or private unless you really do want the stream to appear live.

YouTube begins to receive the stream from the Teams meeting
Figure 3: YouTube begins to receive the stream from the Teams meeting

Editing the Output

When the meeting content is finished, you can stop streaming. At this point, you can manage the video settings to add details about what it covers and apply the tools available in YouTube Studio to improve the video, like trimming unwanted seconds off the start and end (Figure 4). I’m sure there’s lots more that skilled video editors can do.

Editing the video streamed from Teams
Figure 4: Editing the video streamed from Teams

Really Useful Feature

Live streaming a Teams meeting falls into the “really useful feature” category. I can see how live streaming will become very popular once people learn about it. Although I might not become a YouTube maestro, I was pleased with the quality of the output without using any dedicated equipment. Although it isn’t up to the standard of the quality produced by Steve Goodman for the Practical365 video channel, I’m happy with my first attempt, which you can view on YouTube.

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