Webinar vs Webcast: What’s the Difference?

Melissa Hugel
08-Nov-2018 11:44:24

Webinars and webcasts are both effective tools for marketers and anyone else looking to run a comprehensive online events programme - or maybe just want another way to engage their customers with awesome content.

The problem is, a lot of people don’t know the difference between a webinar and webcast. While both are referred to as online events and are designed to connect with audiences, there are some key differences to keep in mind.

What is a webinar?

I know we’ve gone over this before, but it’s important to get back to basics and ensure you understand the definition of webinars.

In the most basic sense, a webinar is a web seminar (web + seminar = webinar). It normally takes the form of an online presentation - whether that be a PowerPoint, webcam, screenshare, pre-recorded mp4 (or a mixture!) - with accompanying audio via a phone or mic, to accommodate panel discussions, etc.

Vidyard screenshot

Webinars are useful for knowledge sharing, thought leadership, and professional development. Audience sizes can vary, but we’ve found most WorkCast webinars are presented to audiences of fewer than 1,000 people.

One of the main features of a webinar is the interactivity and audience engagement they facilitate. Webinars are all about controlled two-way communication: attendees listen to your broadcast via their laptop, PC or device speakers and have the opportunity to contribute with live polling, Q&A, surveys and resource downloads.

So, what’s a webcast?

Think of webcasts more like a television show than a seminar. You know those TED talks that are live streamed across the world? Those are webcasts.

sony-live-webcast-example

Like a webinar, webcasts can either be live or pre-recorded, but there are a few more major differences between the two formats.

One reason why marketers and businesses choose webcasts rather than webinars is that they’re designed to reach large audiences - we’re talking attendee numbers up to 50,000.

Essentially, webcasts are if you want to up the ante on your online event. Providing a professional, polished finish to your broadcast, with a TV/studio-like quality, webcasts allow you to bring your physical event to life - whether it be a virtual town hall, conference, panel discussion, product launch or stakeholder/annual review.

Is your physical event limited on space for attendees? No problem! Stream it live online, so you're not limiting the exposure of your content to just those who can attend in person and reduce your environmental impact. Your online attendees are still able to engage with polls & submit questions with the hope of the speaker or host answering it live for them to see & hear.

Where do virtual events fit in?

This is where it gets interesting. Virtual events are where it all comes together.

Virtual events are large, multi-session events that can feature both webinars and webcasts. Want to host your industry conference online? That’s where a virtual event would come in. There is everything from a virtual lobby to small breakout sessions, where webinars can be handy, to keynote addresses, where a webcasts would be more suitable.

virtual-event-lobby-example

Because both webinars and webcasts each have their own strengths and purposes, you can run a comprehensive, multifaceted event that demonstrates your industry knowledge, while ensuring you reach a truly global audience.

Want to learn more about how to get more out of your online events? Download our free eBook: 'How To Get More From Your Online Events With HubSpot' today. 

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