The future of the internet lies in video. By 2020, it’s estimated that 76% of all web traffic will be video. Smartphones are driving a transformation in digital media. Live video is revolutionizing the industry. Costs are falling as technology gets cheaper. Pretty much anyone has the ability to broadcast.
When it comes to video hosts, there’s one big kid on the block: YouTube. The service is massive, with millions of users and billions of video views per day. If it were a country, it would be one of the largest in the world. However, YouTube isn’t everything. Despite its many advantages, there are some drawbacks to the platform. For example, it took YouTube years to introduce live streaming functionality. Many prefer other platforms when it comes to live streaming.
This essay is going to examine YouTube Live and two competitors: Ustream and DaCast. We’ll look at pricing, consider the basic features, and look at the ideal user for each platform. Let’s dive in!
YouTube Live review
Live streaming via YouTube is relatively simple. In order to do so, you have to ensure your channel is verified. This simply requires a phone number. Once verified, you can stream and upload videos longer than 15 minutes. There are two main methods of streaming.
The first is the new “stream now” method, which is currently in open beta testing. This streaming method involves:
- Setting up an encoder with the provided credentials
- Selecting a name and description for your stream
- Choosing tags, categories, and privacy
- Enabling monetization via Google ads, if you desire
The second method of live streaming is called “events.” This involves scheduling a stream in the future. This method allows you to use your webcam to broadcast via “Hangouts on Air.”
YouTube’s best features are that it’s free and incredibly popular. Almost everyone knows about YouTube and how it works. When it comes to live streams, this popularity likely means more viewers. Your content is easily accessible and you can build a following thanks to subscribers. This makes YouTube the premier live video platform in terms of social engagement.
Ideal user for YouTube Live
YouTube is a platform that has some major benefits. Most of these are social. Thus, the ideal use for YouTube Live streaming is when you are trying to maximize your audience. Comments, likes, subscriptions, and channels allow for easy interaction. YouTube is a great choice for B2C users.
YouTube Live drawbacks
However, YouTube live has significant downsides as well. Content that you broadcast on the platform may be re-used by YouTube. Many businesses are concerned about these licensing issues.
Blocking is also a major concern. YouTube is the third most-blocked website in the world. Schools and businesses often block the platform as a matter of course. This is a very serious concern for business and educational uses.
Another issue is indiscriminate advertising. If you monetize your content, you may find your stream playing host to ads that are objectionable. You can block these ads, but by the time you take action it may be too late.
Finally, a major drawback of YouTube Live is that there is no tech support available. There are documented cases of major events having issues because YouTube scheduled some hardware upgrades. You won’t be notified of these issues beforehand. This is the price that you pay for a free platform. When you need help or have a complaint, nobody may be listening.
YouTube Live vs Ustream
There are many YouTube competitors out there. Today we’re going to be looking at two. The first of these is Ustream. Ustream is a video hosting and streaming company that was founded in 2007. Initially, it was a way for American troops fighting in the Middle East to communicate with families back in the U.S.
Today, Ustream has morphed into a video services company working mostly with individuals and small/medium business (SMB). They provide both on-demand and live video hosting under three main products. As described by StreamingMedia.com, they are:
“[Ustream’s] Pro Broadcasting includes the platform for broadcasting live events, uploading and encoding VOD content, creating the player and channel page, and managing and embedding videos. Align provides most of the same functionality, with increased security and authentication options and analytics. Demand bolts onto the Pro Broadcasting product, adding the ability to force users to register before viewing your videos.”
Basic, ad-supported Ustream accounts are free. The lowest tier account for Pro Broadcasting costs $99 per month, and offers 100 viewer hours and only 720p HD broadcasting. This plan also lacks some these essential features:
- Multiple channels (only supports one broadcast)
- Custom branding (not a white label service)
- Embedding controls
- 24/7 customer support
The plan scales up to 5,000 viewer hours for $999 per month, which is when paywall and white label service kick in. That’s a steep price. Enterprise plans use custom pricing. These plans support full HD broadcasting and full custom branding. However, these plans are much more expensive.
Ideal user for Ustream
Ustream is still just beginning to break into the enterprise video market. Their purchase by IBM in early 2016 shows that they are becoming more serious about big-business video. For now, the ideal Ustream user is the medium-size business willing to pay a premium price.
YouTube Live alternative: DaCast
The second YouTube Live competitor that we will examine today is DaCast. This is our own white label video hosting and live streaming platform. DaCast is a video company based in San Francisco, with a satellite office in Paris. It launched in 2010.
DaCast has positioned itself as one of the most affordable, fully-featured video platforms. Both live streams and on-demand video are delivered using the Akamai CDN (Content Delivery Network). The Akamai CDN is the largest and most reliable in the world.
YouTube Live comparison with DaCast
Ustream and YouTube simply serve different audiences with different purposes. YouTube Live is a great platform for those who want simple, free live streaming. DaCast is aimed squarely at users with more demanding needs.
For example, lets say you want to try the following:
Use custom branding
YouTube allows you to insert your own brand logo. However, every video will also feature the YouTube logo prominently. This means free advertising for them, and a less professional look for you.
Avoid cluttering your video with unrelated content
YouTube also clutters content on their site with related videos. Even when embedded, YouTube videos display related videos after the clip stops playing. This could include content you don’t like or even videos from competitors!
Target your videos to people in businesses and schools
How do you deal with the problem of your employees or students spending all their time watching YouTube videos? You block the site, of course. YouTube is one of the most-blocked websites in the world. This is especially true in business and academic settings. If you plan for your content to target businesses or schools, DaCast is a much safer option.
Stream only on your own website
YouTube has limited privacy options. Essentially, they support three options:
- Public videos
- Unlisted videos (which don’t show up in search results, but anyone who has the link can watch)
- Private videos
DaCast has much more robust options. These include password protection, domain restrictions, geographic restrictions, and embedding control.
Use outside advertising in your live streams
YouTube disallows advertising from third parties in videos on their site. All ads have to come through their Google Adsense platform. This maximizes their revenue, but restricts your options. DaCast is more flexible. You can integrate any advertising platform via the API.
Monetize by selling tickets (pay-per-view) or subscriptions
Advertising is the only real way to make money off your content on YouTube. This is limiting for many types of streaming users. For example, imagine a sporting event or concert. Charging an access fee for these types of events is standard.
DaCast makes this simple with an integrated paywall. Viewers simply enter their payment info in the video window and watch instantly. Since payments are integrated into the video window, income from embedded streams on other sites is seamless.
Build your own platform using an API
Since DaCast is a paid service, the functionality and trust placed in the user is much greater. Once you pay for access to the service, it’s yours. YouTube has to maintain control of its content in order to generate profits. Due to this, YouTube’s API is relatively limited.
DaCast’s API is fully-featured. You can literally replicate every function of the platform inside your own application or service. This allows you to create complex web, mobile, or desktop apps. They can integrate your live and on-demand video content seamlessly for public or private use.
Resell live streaming functionality to others
Since DaCast is white label, API integrations are seamless and invisible. This allows reseller functionality. Essentially, a business or institution can purchase streaming services in bulk. They can then resell portions of the bandwidth for others to access.
This is useful for small video companies streaming weddings and sporting events. It’s also useful for major universities and franchise corporations. Those receiving the re-sold streaming functionality will have no clue it’s being provided by DaCast.
Maintain a highly professional appearance
For businesses and professional groups, appearance and formality are important. Generally speaking, YouTube is not a formal place. It’s a place for cat videos and fail compilations.
DaCast provides a way for your video content to match the tone of your organization. It features simple, powerful features that can be modified to match your needs. This means you can avoid branding, clutter, and unrelated content.
Ustream comparison with DaCast
DaCast aims to bring cutting-edge live streaming technology to all businesses and groups. This is what we call “the democratization of live streaming.”
The basic DaCast plan offers 300 viewer hours at just $19 per month. That’s three times the viewer hours at one-fifth the cost of the basic Ustream plan. This basic plan also offers advanced features not supported by basic Ustream plans, including:
- Full white-label branding control
- Restrictions via password protection and domain fencing
- Monetization via pay-per-view and subscriptions
Many of these options are not available via Ustream unless you’re willing to pay $999 per month.
DaCast’s mid-level monthly plan costs $165 and bumps up the allowed viewer hours to 6000. UStream’s mid-level plan is $499 per month and only offers 2000 viewer hours. At this rate, Ustream still doesn’t offer advanced functionality like full white-label branding and monetization.
For users who don’t live stream regularly, a monthly fee doesn’t make much sense. DaCast offers bandwidth for these users that can be purchased in bulk. It can be used for up to 12 months after purchase.
Ideal user for DaCast
All the functions that we’ve just listed are not possible with YouTube Live. On the other hand, a professional video streaming platform like DaCast is built exactly for these sorts of uses. Therefore, DaCast is a great fit for business users. Due to competitive pricing and compelling features, DaCast is an attractive offering. This is true especially for the SMB market.
DaCast is also popular in a number of other industries, including:
- Media and entertainment
- Religious groups
There are many different video service companies operating today. However, each platform has its pros and cons. As experts in the industry, we hope this article has offered some insight. Hopefully this comparison will make it easier for you to choose the best platform for you.
Have you tried DaCast yet? Check out our platform and see all of our great features for yourself! Sign up today to try streaming free for 30 days.