Difference Between Webinar and Webcast

Key Difference – Webinar vs Webcast

Although the two terms Webinar and Webcast refer to similar communication mediums, there is a distinct difference between them based on their purpose and audience. The key difference between a webinar and a webcast is that webinar facilitates a two-way communication between a smaller group while a webcast facilitates a one-way communication between a larger group. Whatever the difference, many benefits can be obtained by conducting both, webinars and webcasts. Targeting a specific audience which is relevant to the discussed topic is one such benefit. A large audience can be supported with the use of internet technology. The user can participate immediately in the conference without needing to schedule it. The other important factor is the low cost that is involved with Webinars and Webcasts. Traveling to the specific location is not needed and setting up costs is reduced dramatically. High tech interaction means a better experience for participants and promotion of forward thinking. Let us discuss them in more detail here, before going into the differences between both, the webinar and webcast.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar can be defined as a conference that is held in real time in the form of a seminar with the use of the internet. The advantage of a webinar is that anyone can participate in the conference regardless of their geographic location. This is a great feature as it allows the participants to participate in a conference even if they are separated by many miles apart. The webinar is able to support two-way audio with the help of VOIP and video streaming that allows the participants and the presenter to communicate effectively. They are also able to discuss topics as they are presented in real time.

The most common uses of Webinar include conferences, meetings, training programs, and workshops. Webinars can also be recorded and viewed later, but the real time element will be lost. The recorded Webinar can become a webcast. Webinar operates with the use of TCP/IP. It is sometimes a necessity to download a software in order to participate in a webinar. The event interfacing will be provided via email and calendars, and collaboration may be provided via other methods as well to prepare for a webinar. The Webinar events can be hosted for anonymous participation, or the host can be identified by a code or ID. In both the scenarios, the identity of the participant is always safeguarded.

There are some other features that are supported by Webinars. The presenter’s computer screen could be shared among all users who are participating in the Webinar. There are even options when the audience gets a chance to control the presenters screen as well. The Webinars also support polling among the audience with the use of multiple choice questions. The vendor hosting the event may charge per minute, monthly subscription, or a rate according to the amount of participants in a Webinar. The vendors associated with Webinars include Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Open meetings, Skype, Web Train, etc. Webinars can be a hosting service, an appliance or a software.

Difference Between Webinar and Webcast

What is a Webcast?

Webcast can be defined as a broadcasting or presentation with the use of the internet.With the development of technology, the internet is able to offer great data rates. At the same time, digital audio and video technologies have evolved paving the way for businesses to make use of Webcasting rather than other presentation techniques. The vendors use different kinds of Webcasting for different occasions. One method of Webcasting involves broadcasting pre-recorded, pre-arranged media across the internet. The users can view these media on demand. There is also real-time webcasting. For example, lecturers can present the information over the internet as a Webcast, and the audio and videos of the events can be presented over the Internet in real-time. There are other kinds of Webcasting like power point presentation, which is accompanied by the real-time audio of the presenter over the internet.

Live streaming is also a process where information is delivered straight to the computer without it being saved on a disk or hard drive. Real-time Webcasting is pretty much what is mentioned by live streaming. If we take a closer look at how live streaming occurs, the audio and video is captured using a video camera and is transferred to a software on the host computer. After the captured information is compressed and digitized it is sent to a CDN (Content Delivery Network Server). This sever is responsible for distributing the encoded information over the internet. This could be done in the form of a broadcast or as on demand that could be viewed at a later time. There are programs like real player which decode the stream sent from the CDN server and then webcast could be viewed. These types of streams are usually compressed to reduce the size so that the information can be streaming quickly and retrieved in real time. For compressing the videos, there are many compression technologies available in the market (Ex: MPEG-4). Here is an example for Webcast.

What is the difference between a Webinar and a Webcast?

Definition of Webinar and Webcast

Webinar: Webinar can be defined as a conference that is held in real time in the form of a seminar with the use of the internet.

Webcast: Webcast can be defined as broadcasting or presenting with the use of the internet.

Features of Webinar and Webcast


Webinar: Webinar is designed for smaller groups. (Meeting group, online event)

Webcast: Webcast is designed for large groups


Webinar: Webinar often involves active participation of the participants. (Markup, polls, Question & Answers, whiteboards)

Webcast: Webcast Usually does not involve the above.


Webinar: Webinar is a full featured presentation and related options

Webcast: Webcast is a mainly audio and video related. (Video, slides & videos, video to user model)


Webinar: Webinar can support  a few hundred viewers

Webcast: Webcast can support from a thousand to ten thousand and even more viewers.


Webinar: Webinar is mainly a presentation with audiovisual experience

Webcast: Webcast is a better audio visual experience

 Viewer Options

Webinar: Webinar has more options for viewers

Webcast: Webcast has fewer options for viewers.


Webinar: Webinar facilitates Two-way communication. (Usually Question and Answers at the end)

Webcast: Webcast facilitates one-way communication.


Webinar: Webinar is usually held in real time as Polls, and Q & A are available.

Webcast: Webcast can be viewed again and again.

 Scheduling, Registration

Webinar: Webinar usually involves scheduling via email or calendars

Webcast: No Scheduling is required for Webcast

As our conclusion, the collaboration that is involved with Webinars is less, but the information that is shared with the use of it is more. Usually, it involves one or more presenters and follows a presentation style focus. It is more engaging than a Webcast and is a great tool for teaching and learning. There are polls and Q&A to make it a two-way communication.

When we consider a Webcast, it is one-way communication, using mainly audio and video and targeting a larger audience at the same time. Webcast can be viewed in real time and can also be recorded for the convenience of the users to view the content at a later time.

Both are great online tools that make life easier in more ways than one for the participants. These web-based technologies are growing faster as many companies are using them as their marketing tools that are cost effective and have a wider reach than conventional advertising platforms.

Image Courtesy:
Online Webinar by Stephan Ridgway [CC BY 2.0] via flickr