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Hangouts on Air will be going away August 1, 2019

If you ran a Hangout on Air live stream this week, you may have spotted a new notice when you clicked the "Start Broadcast" button that states "Hangouts on Air is going away later this year," and suggests trying YouTube's webcam live streaming option.

Update August 1: While you can still see scheduled Hangouts on Air in YouTube Live Events, the Start Hangout On Air button is greyed out, and if you move your cursor over it you will see Hangouts On Air has been discontinued.
Update July 15: The notice now says "Going away on August 1st". Make sure you don't have any HOA live streams scheduled after that date.Hangouts on Air Broadcasting banner with Hangouts on Air going away notice
"Hangouts On Air is going away later this year.  For quick streaming, try YouTube.com/webcam."

Observant folks probably already knew this change was coming. The YouTube Live Event setup page has recommended trying the simple "Camera" webcam streaming for months, and the YouTube Help Center article about Hangouts on Air has long had a similar notice about HOAs going away in 2019.

YouTube Live Event Type options
YouTube suggests using their webcam live streaming when you set up a HOA


Notice in the YouTube Help Center that "classic Hangouts on Air streaming experience is going away later in 2019"

Why will Hangouts on Air be going away? 

YouTube hasn't provided any details about why Hangouts on Air will be retired, but it's not too surprising.

When Hangouts on Air launched in 2011, it was a fantastic innovation. For the first time live streaming available to everyone right, with no special equipment or expertise required. But it hasn't been updated in a very long time. Hangouts on Air hasn't gotten new features since 2014, long before it was moved from Google+ to YouTube in 2016.

And Hangouts on Air does use the classic Hangouts desktop video call interface, and classic Hangouts will be going away after consumer users are transitioned to the new Hangouts Meet video calling service. That may not happen in 2019, but it will likely be coming soon thereafter, so it makes some sense for Hangouts on Air to be retired before that happens.

Will Hangouts Meet include live streaming?

Currently Hangouts Meet is only available through G Suite. G Suite Enterprise customers can use Hangouts Meet to live stream to in-domain users, but there is no public live streaming option, and the videos can only be saved to Google Drive, not YouTube.

Google hasn't shared any plans to offer live streaming from Hangouts Meet more broadly.

Is YouTube's webcam live streaming a replacement for Hangouts on Air?

YouTube does offer built-in desktop live streaming that only requires an up-to-date browser and webcam. It's nice and simple, allowing you to go online with a few clicks.

It could be a replacement for Hangouts on Air if you vlog or otherwise are only broadcasting from one camera.

But it's missing  features that many Hangouts on Air live broadcasters use:
  • There is no option to have multiple people join the live broadcast. (See the Google Webmasters Office Hours for an example of how that's used)
  • There is no way to screen share.
Oh no, how will I find a replacement!?

If you are a Hangouts on Air user, you probably are concerned about finding a replacement. there are third party services that let you live stream to YouTube from desktop without requiring too much technical expertise. Here are a few options: 
  • Lightstream lets you stream from your browser without installing software, and includes screen sharing and overlays. It doesn't let you include guests in your broadcast.
  • StreamYard lets you have multiple on-screen participants and has screen sharing. The free option displays StreamYard branding.
  • Zoom lets you live stream a webinar, with some advanced management tools, but isn't free.
  • Skype for Content Creators lets you live-stream a video call, but requires additional software.
It's worth trying out a few to see what works for you.
And do send feedback to YouTube about the features you'd like to see! YouTube does read and consider the feedback submitted by users.

Comments

  1. In Lightstream isn't it possible to include guests via camera overlays in scenes?

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    1. I don't know. When I tried it I don't recall seeing an option to use live video feed in the overlay. But I'll need to check it out again.
      I'm going to be doing more detailed testing over the next week or so.

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    2. We now use OBS with YouTube live stream for our YouTube show, that allows for screenshare. Zoom when we bring in guests. Same as @MichaelDaniels. Steep learning curve with OBS - that's Jim's job :-)

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  2. StreamYard is the closest to Hangouts on Air I've tried. It's really simple to use, has a good free tier (Hasngouts on Air shows Google's branding too), and this Chrome OS junkie appreciates it's a full cloud platform.

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    Replies
    1. I've just been watching some StreamYard tutorials and I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

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  3. Thanks for mentioning StreamYard Peggy (I'm one of the co-founders). I think it's a solid alternative to HOA -- we have quite a few users who have migrated from HOA due to the deprecation.

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear from you Geige! I have had some personal things come up so I haven't had a chance to try out StreamYard yet, but I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl.

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  4. Replies
    1. Yes, indeed. I did finally figure out how to do it :) Now that we only have 2 weeks until HOAs get shut off, I need to really focus on figuring out the other platform features. Lightstream has a lot more options than StreamYard, but the flip side is that it's a bit more complicated to set up.

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  5. Thanks for sharing StreamYard! Just gave it a test and I think we'll use it for our weekly webshow tomorrow night. We've been using GHO on Air since we started so StreamYard looks like a much simpler alternative than other options...

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