Webinar vs Webcast – What’s the Difference? (With Examples)

Webinars (web based seminars) are designed for collaboration and interaction, like chatting, polls and Q&A.

Webcasts (web based broadcasts) are used for one-way mass communication without any engagement from the audience. 

Webinars typically have less than a hundred attendees and are more personal, while webcasts usually have viewers in the thousands

Webinar vs Webcast - The key differences

Webinars are typically live events and encourage hands-on participation during the presentation. Even after the presentation.

Hosting webinars is a marketing strategy and is designed to establish a connection with the audience, educate them and ultimately sell products or services.

That’s why webinars have a tremendously high attendee-to-sale conversion rate. Sometimes as high as 22%.

That means 22 out of 100 attendees would make a purchase. 

Let’s illustrate the difference between webinar vs webcast by their use cases. 

Examples of when to use webinars:

  • Introducing your course
  • Demonstrating a feature update to your users
  • Marketing your product and showing how it solves a problem

Read more the best webinar platforms

Webcasts also have a video or slide presentation format, but compared to webinars they’re more passive. 

Webcasts are usually pre-recorded, so active audience participation is not required.

There’s typically a larger audience and the viewers are more anonymous.

Examples of when to use webcasts:

  • Broadcasting a company-wide announcement
  • Recording conference talks (e.g. TED talk)
  • Broadcasting a panel discussion video

Webinar vs Live Stream - One Key Difference

Webinars focus on educating and engaging with the participants and ultimately selling them a product or service. 

The webinar host focuses on delivering professional, useful and actionable content. 

Webinars are typically private, albeit with a low entry barrier. They typically require you fill in a webinar registration form.

Live Streams, on the other hand, are public and open to everyone

That means anyone can walk in. No opt-ins. No sign-ups. 

This anonymous free-entry is perfect for entertainment, like live DJ sets or gaming. 

Example of Live Stream Gaming
Example of a live stream host (nickname Ninja) playing an online video game (Fornite)

This easy free entry dismisses the exclusivity factor. Easy come, easy go. 

While webinar participants have signed up for it, been reminded via e-mail and ultimately tuned in at a specific time. This creates a sense of scarcity and exclusivity.

That’s also part of the reason hosting webinars is such an effective marketing strategy. 

Read more about webinars vs live streams

Webinar vs Podcast - When to Use Which One?

Podcasts are purely audio, while webinars also have a video medium. 

This is simultaneously an advantage and a disadvantage. While listening to a podcast, you can easily be doing something else – while driving, jogging or just taking a walk. 

Productivity points for killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

Podcasts are hot right now – over a billion subscribers in total. That’s a number only expected to grow. 

In the US, more than 32% of people listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. 

Statistics and facts about podcasts
Recent statistics and facts about podcasts

Podcasts are better if you want to:  

  • create a long-term following, instead of immediate action
  • spend less time/effort preparing each time (unless you run automated webinars)
  • create publicly accessible long-term SEO content

Webinars are better if you want to: 

  • create a more personal interaction
  • teach more practical skills
  • share your screen and show your slides
  • show a demo and sell your product
Read more about webinars vs podcasts

Webinar vs Seminar - Online vs Offline

In evolutionary terms, a webinar is the technologically superior relative of a good old seminar. 

Don’t get me wrong – good old seminars are still great! They bring people together to learn and share knowledge. Seminars are still effective for educational purposes, classroom-style discussions and debates. 

However, technology has created a whole paradigm shift in presentations and knowledge sharing. Hosting an online webinar offers some serious advantages, for example: 

  • Far wider reach
  • On-demand access
  • Easy to join from anywhere
  • New ways to interact with the audience

Should I Host a Webinar, Webcast, Live Stream, Podcast or a Seminar?

As technology develops, all the communication channels evolve to digital broadcast format. All these event types are similar in some way.

However, they do have some key nuances as to why they’re different.

But which one should you use and when?

What do Digital Events Have in Common - venn diagram
Webinar vs Webcast vs Live Stream vs Podcast

To achieve the best results with webinars, we recommend using a professional webinar platform

23 best webinar platforms rated and compared

Picture of Erkki Muuga

Erkki Muuga

Erkki has over 10 years of experience as a software product manager and a proven track record in building and growing SaaS products. He has a keen eye for key differentiating factors and spotting truly valuable software features that enable business use cases.

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