Everyday, more people are discovering the power of video content. Sales reps are using it to grow revenue 200% – 300%. Businesses are using it to conduct trainings. Media companies are streaming content online in addition to traditional TV broadcasts.
Video is one of the best means of communication available to us. It’s beautiful, simple to watch, and conveys an incredible amount of information.
Live video expands on this paradigm by adding the element of urgency. Video that is broadcast in real-time is exciting, engaging, useful, and fun. It’s no wonder that businesses, organizations, and individuals are increasingly using video content to fuel their operations.
In this essay, we’re going to compare three popular video platforms: Kaltura, Wowza, and DaCast. But first, let’s cover what a video platform actually is.
The first step in utilizing video is deciding where you will host your video content. Unless you’re a large corporation, you probably don’t have the budget to set up your own servers for video distribution. The solution to this is third-party video hosting.
There are a lot of video platforms available. These start with free services like YouTube and Vimeo. However, free services have many disadvantages for serious users:
- Problematic licensing agreements that mean you lose control of content
- Free video sites are often blocked in workplaces and schools
- Lack of technical support
- Insertion of indiscriminate advertising and related videos
Benefits of professional video streaming hosts
A dedicated video hosting and streaming platform will solve these problems. Content will remain under your license. Video hosts are never blocked, and provide technical support. Since the viewer isn’t the product for the video host, they’re not going to insert ads or show related videos to try to entice more views.
Let’s jump to looking at a few of these live streaming platforms in more detail.
Kaltura Video Platform Review
Kaltura is a video hosting service and software company. The company was founded in 2006 and is based in New York City.
They offer a variety of products and services related to video. However, they have two main offerings in this space. The first is VPaaS—Video Platform as a Service. Their service is built around a set of APIs and focuses on four markets: video services for educational institutions, enterprises, media companies, and OTT (Over The Top) video services.
The second offering is Kaltura Management Console (KMC). This platform is a media management system for ingesting, managing, publishing, distributing, and monetizing your media.
According to one reviewer, Kaltura KMC is overall a very robust platform with tons of customization options. Due to its open-source nature, community members can join developers in expanding product features. Therefore, new elements are being added quickly.
Features include the ability to bulk upload and transcode files, granular access control, and live streaming. There are a variety of other options available in the complex backend and via a wide range of add-ons.
The Kaltura VPaaS platform was launched in May 2016. It’s a new, relatively unknown offering. So how does it stack up to the competition? Kaltura describes it as a “disruptive pay-as-you-go platform with hundreds of video APIs.”
Kaltura VPaaS allows users to create their own video workflows with a set of comprehensive APIs. The platform also provides a set of SDKs, developer tools, and code recipes to get started.
One benefit of the Kaltura KMC system is extensibility. Because of its open-source nature, anyone can custom code solutions to their own specific needs. Reviewers note that Kaltura “integrates well with other systems.” However, other reviewers write that workflow integration with LMS (learning management systems) could be better.
Video hosting and streaming via Kaltura VPaaS is generally sold using a pay-as-you-go model. Bandwidth is charged at $0.10 per GB, storage at $0.20 per GB, and transcoding at $2.25 per GB. Live streaming is a flat rate $0.25 per minute streamed. Other services such as media entries, plays/streams, analytics, DRM, and dedicated support cost extra. Billing occurs monthly based on your usage. Kaltura also offers volume contracts that are billed annually for heavy users.
Kaltura KMC is most aimed at larger businesses and institutions. Plans start at $1000 per month, and go up from there. Most Kaltura KMC plans involve custom pricing that requires a conversation with their sales department.
As noted before, Kaltura comes in two flavors. The KMC hosting backend itself is open-source and can be deployed to your own servers for free. This is tempting for heavy users. Those with the technical experience and equipment can deploy Kaltura for essentially the cost of labor. They can also modify the platform.
For those who can’t afford to deploy their own solution, Kaltura offers a fully-hosted cloud video option as well. This KMC implementation is the pricey one. For users who want to build around APIs and custom workflows, the VPaaS system is ideal. This avoids the issues of technical debt, ongoing administrative cost, and effort of maintaining a system yourself.
The Kaltura platform is designed for large institutions. Main clients include the media, enterprise, and education industries. With a huge set of features, Kaltura is ideal for users with very specific custom needs. However, this breadth of features also constrains the platform.
Kaltura video drawbacks
The main drawback of Kaltura is that it’s a complex platform. It may be too complicated for the average user.
Reviewers note that the user interface is “clumsy,” that “there are a number of illogical omissions in their product capabilities,” and that some settings are “extremely difficult to customize.” This is clear in testing. Social media sharing is also less than optimal; users can’t watch in-window, but must visit an external page.
Another disadvantage is that the Kaltura KMC free trial does not allow you to test live streaming. This makes it hard to know if your specific hardware and software configuration is going to play nice with Kaltura.
VPaaS pricing is also relatively difficult to calculate since the usage isn’t very easy to predict for new streamers. Reliability may be a problem as well; some reviewers have experienced outages at critical moments.
Kaltura Alternative: Wowza
Let’s look at a few alternatives to Kaltura for video hosting and live broadcasts. The first one on our list is Colorado-based Wowza. Wowza was founded in 2005 as a company focused on streaming media.
Wowza’s services have two elements: the Wowza Streaming Engine and the Wowza Streaming Cloud.
The Streaming Engine is a software package formerly known as Wowza Media Server. This server-based package is an extensible platform for delivering audio/video content via the web, as well as for audio/video chat. It can deliver content in up to 4K Ultra HD resolution to a variety of devices, including TVs, mobile devices, computers, and set-top boxes.
However, reviews on the Amazon AWS marketplace note a number of problems. These include slow support and virtualization problems among others.
Streaming Cloud is essentially a cloud-based version of Media Server sold via the SaaS model. This service allows users to host and deliver live and on-demand video and audio content without investing in any on-site infrastructure.
Wowza Streaming Cloud includes a number of positive features:
- White label service (custom branding)
- Multi-bitrate streaming
- Live stream recording
- No channel limits
- Content security measures
Streaming Cloud service is offered under three main pricing options. First, a “live events” pricing option designed for one-time and recurring live events. This pricing plan comes in four main tiers:
- Starter plan: $49 per month, 10 processing hours, and 500 GB of bandwidth (roughly 1,000 viewer hours)
- Standard plan: $199 per month, 50 processing hours, 3 TB of bandwidth (roughly 6,000 viewer hours)
- Plus plan: $499 per month, 150 processing hours, 7 TB of bandwidth (roughly 14,000 viewer hours)
- Premier plan: $999 per month, 350 processing hours, 15 TB of bandwidth (roughly 30,000 viewer hours)
The second type of plan for Wowza Streaming Cloud is 24×7 plans. These come in two tiers:
- Passthrough plans offer monthly single-bitrate streaming at a flat rate of $60 per channel plus bandwidth.
- Transcoding plans offer multi-bitrate streaming at $500 per channel plus bandwidth.
The third main pricing option involves API-based video processing priced on a usage basis.
The Wowza platform features a number of Java and REST APIs. The Streaming Engine APIs enable users to develop custom applications to manage the media server via HTTP. Wowza also offers a Java-based server API that allows easier integration with databases, storage, and servers.
The Streaming Cloud API allows users to control and manage transcoding. Additional Streaming Cloud features will be implemented via API in the future, but are only in preview now. This means that the full functionality of the platform is not yet usable via API.
Wowza’s best features include white label branding, lack of channel restrictions, and the Streaming Engine option for self-hosted streaming.
Wowza is mainly aimed at organizations that want to build customized solutions to their streaming media needs. Their service therefore is highly scalable and suitable for large business, universities, and media.
However, there are a few main drawbacks of Wowza. Notably, the service doesn’t support monetization options like pay-per-view or subscriptions. API access to the cloud-based live streaming service is incomplete and doesn’t allow you to fully manipulate the service. Users also seem to have some complaints about usability.
Kaltura and Wowza Alternative: DaCast
A second alternative to both Kaltura and Wowza is DaCast, our own video host and live streaming service. DaCast was launched in 2010 and is based in San Francisco with a second office in Paris. Since then, the company has positioned itself as an easy to use, affordable while label video platform with high-end features.
As a provider, DaCast offers two main services: live streaming and on-demand video hosting. All DaCast content is white label starting at the lowest pricing option. One reviewer states that DaCast is “easy to use, flexible, user friendly, stable, and great quality.” Another says that DaCast is “quick and easy to set up for a one-time event [and] very affordable too.”
Major DaCast features include:
- Unlimited channels
- Easy watermarking
- Multi-bitrate streaming
- Security options and geographic restrictions
- Pay-per-view monetization
Content is served via the Akamai CDN (Content Delivery Network), which is among the largest and most highly reviewed in the world. However, unlike platforms such as Wowza, DaCast integrates directly with Akamai. Links and embed codes to DaCast hosted content go directly to Akamai servers, avoiding the partial slowdowns.
Another major draw of DaCast is the API. This system provides full access to the DaCast code base, including every feature of the platform. This allows users to upload, stream, manage, monetize, and otherwise control content from their own applications.
The API also makes it easy to integrate streaming and online video into existing multimedia workflows. This is ideal for broadcasters and media users. Users can even create a streaming platform of their own based on the DaCast system, and then resell this to others.
The DaCast API is supported by several SDKs and comprehensive documentation to make it easier for users to get started.
Pricing for monthly DaCast accounts starts at just $19. This pricing level offers 100 GB of bandwidth (approximately 300 viewer hours) and 20 GB of storage. The popular Pro middle-tier plan costs $165 per month and offers 2 TB of bandwidth and 125 GB of storage. The Premier tier, at $390 per month, offers 5 TB of bandwidth and 250 GB of storage.
Event pricing is also available in prepaid amounts, starting at $0.25 per GB for 1-5 TB of data. Prices decline to $0.07 for 100-300 TB, and custom plans are available beyond that.
Comparing Kaltura and DaCast
Kaltura and DaCast are somewhat different platforms with different strengths. Kaltura is a good choice for large institutions with technical staff devoted to maintaining a complex product.
On the other hand, DaCast is much more simple to use. This reduces technical overhead and staffing costs. DaCast’s subscription price is also more affordable.
When it comes to features, DaCast has a number of advantages. For example, Kaltura does not offer any paywall option to monetize videos. DaCast’s paywall is integrated in-window, which makes it easy to make sales on embedded content.
Sharing on social media is easier and more native with DaCast. Using a simple dedicated embed URL for social, content plays on Facebook and Twitter. This is not possible with Kaltura.
Finally, Kaltura does not provide access to pricing and plan info in the dashboard. This is a small gripe, but it makes changing plans and assessing the cost effectiveness of your current approach difficult.
Comparing Wowza and DaCast
Wowza has a few great features, including its capable Streaming Engine software. However, when the cloud streaming service is compared with DaCast, a few shortcomings become apparent.
Chief among these are monetization and API. Wowza doesn’t support monetization of your live streaming or on-demand videos. Wowza’s API also doesn’t offer the same sort of functionality that is supported by DaCast.
The headline features of DaCast include white label service, an easy to use platform, the Akamai CDN, and simple monetization. All this comes at an affordable price, making DaCast a highly desirable alternative.
With competitive pricing and compelling features, DaCast is an ideal video host platform for a wide range of users. These includes small and medium businesses, media and entertainment, education, government, sports, community groups, and religious groups. It’s also a great platform for individual live streamers.
Kaltura, Wowza, and DaCast are all competent video platforms. Hopefully, this article has helped you decide which is best for you. From here, making the decision of which platform to choose should be easier. Let us know if you have any thoughts by responding in the comments below.
Obviously, we hope that you’re leaning towards DaCast. Have you tried it yet? Check out our platform and see all of our great features for yourself! Sign up today to try free streaming for 30 days.