BoxCast streams to viewers using a technology called HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). Created by Apple and used by companies worldwide, HLS utilizes standard web servers and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute streaming media in small chunks.
The URLs to these chunks are presented in a list, called a playlist or an M3U8 (so named because of the file extension), which players use to download and present media. When combined with adaptive bitrate streaming, another playlist is used to serve multiple quality levels of content.
BoxCast does not share the M3U8 playlist for your broadcasts by default. We made this decision carefully, for the benefit of our customers and viewers, for the following reasons:
- You've told us that viewership analytics are really important to you. We've worked hard to bring you more analytics and more detailed analytics. Using the M3U8 directly causes those analytics to be misleading at best – and completely wrong at worst. We prefer to keep your analytics accurate.
- You've asked for the ability to control access to your broadcasts by making them private, monetizing them via tickets and quality upgrades, and, in some cases, using third-party authentication. Providing access to the M3U8 bypasses any access control and monetization.
- You trust us to make sure that your viewers have a high-quality viewing experience. That means that your broadcasts should play back at the highest possible quality, have the least amount of rebuffering, and provide the features you've come to expect, like social media integration, live DVR, and highlights, to name a few. Providing the M3U8 would allow any HLS-capable player to be used. Since we can't test every player in existence, we can't be sure that every player will provide a quality viewing experience. A sub-par viewing experience would reflect poorly on you, the customer, and us, your live streaming provider.
We understand that a number of companies provide products that wish to use the M3U8 to integrate, and that our decision to not provide the M3U8 might be frustrating. Although the M3U8 is the "lowest common denominator" for integrating an HLS stream, you do have other better options. We encourage you to reach out to your app developer and send them this list of resources and ask them to integrate with BoxCast:
- If your integration provides a "web view," you case use the "Third-Party App" embed option, placing the embed code in the web view contents. This will utilize the BoxCast player within the integration. (See our embedding FAQ for more details.)
- Use our viewer SDKs to natively integrate BoxCast broadcasts into your app. We have viewer SDKs for AppleTV (TVML), Apple native (iOS, macOS, etc.), Roku, and Android.
- For even better integration, use our developer API to list, find, and play broadcasts. This will save you the effort of entering information for each and every broadcast.
For any questions about integrations, please reach out to email@example.com.
If Other Options Will Not Work
If there is no other option, and you must request the M3U8 URL directly, reach out to our support team about a feature to provide the static M3U8 URL.
With this feature, you can generate a static M3U8 URL for:
- You entire account
- An individual channel
- An individual broadcast
You can fetch the M3U8 URL from the Embed page on the dashboard. Use the top selection to decided the scope of the URL.
In general, here is how the channel or account M3U8 will work:
- When you are live, your integration will receive the live broadcast.
- When you are not live, your integration will receive an error that there is no live video.
- Depending on your integration, their video player may interpret this error in different ways such as a loading spinner.
Please note that the caveats above apply, namely that viewer analytics will be lost for those who watch on this link.
There is a chance that the M3U8 for the entire account will not work for your app provider. In that case, we encourage you to reach out to them and encourage them to work with us on a simple, direct integration.
- Does the m3u8 link ever expire?
- Do I get viewer analytics with static m3u8 URLs?
No, you must consider a different type of integration if you wish to retain viewer analytics.
- Can I use privacy or ticketing features with the m3u8 link?
- No, you must consider a different type of integration if you wish to retain those features.