Top 16 Live Streaming Platforms: Everything You Need to Know [2021 Update]

Streaming Platforms

When it comes to live video streaming for professional use, there is so much to know.  However, since a top professional-grade live streaming platform is a very powerful broadcasting tool that solution providers update regularly, it is difficult to find reviews and comparisons that include all of the information you need.

For new broadcasters looking to get in the streaming game, it can be challenging to objectively assess the available options. We’ve put together a review of 10 of the best streaming platforms for professional broadcasters and 6 social video streaming alternatives that are also valuable for businesses. The purpose of this comparison is to help you make a well-informed decision on the streaming platform to use for your broadcasting needs.

We will discuss what exactly a live streaming platform is, the top features to consider when comparing for business and professional organizations, as well as review the top 16 streaming platforms and pricing for 2021 and beyond.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents:

  • What is a Live Streaming Platform?
  • Features to Consider When Comparing Streaming Platforms 
  • The Rise of Live Video Streaming for Business
  • The Purpose of Professional Live Streaming Platforms
  • Live Streaming Platform And Pricing Comparison for 2021
  • Conclusion

Please note that live streaming platform technology and pricing change regularly. We’ve included information on 6 additional social platform alternatives that businesses can use, the video upload specifications for each platform, info on Zoom streaming integration, and an Expo video gallery feature. This post now reflects the most accurate information as of April 2021.

What is a Live Streaming Platform?

live streaming platforms
The technology for live video streaming platforms and OVPs has grown exponentially in the last decade.

Live streaming platforms are video hosting solutions that allow users to upload and broadcast video content to their audience. 

Businesses use online video platforms to share videos for the purpose of lead generation, building brand awareness, advertising, and providing paid access to video streaming.

Features to Consider When Comparing Streaming Platforms 

The beauty of having so many live video streaming services to choose from is that there are dozens of combinations of powerful features.

Stream hosts are not a “one-size-fits-all” sort of thing. That means that features that are valuable to you may not be valuable to another broadcaster, and vice versa.

Here are a few key features to look for when selecting a streaming platform:

In order to determine which features are the most valuable to your business, you should identify the goals you’d like to reach with online video broadcasting. Once you’ve got your list of goals, determine which features you need to bring those goals to fruition, and choose your live platform for video streaming based on those tools.

The Rise of Live Video Streaming for Business

Streaming platforms
Social platforms such as Youtube were very instrumental in the early days of online video, but they do not measure up to professional streaming solutions.

Broadcasting in the professional world is not new, but it has evolved in the past few years. 

Before broadcasting was big in the business world, live streaming websites designed for consumers and independent content creators, such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live, were the most well-known streaming solutions.

Consumer-grade broadcast platforms are very valuable for amateur broadcasters and independent streamers. However, they simply do not have the tools that professional broadcasters need to succeed.

One of the first roadblocks that come with consumer-grade video streaming platforms that pushed businesses to seek professional corporate live streaming software is the fact that many schools and organizations block Youtube and Facebook because they are social media platforms.

The frustration of missing out on large audiences due to being blocked forced professional streaming solutions to come into play.

The Purpose of Professional Live Streaming Platforms

live streaming platforms
Professional grade cloud-based streaming platforms are designed for businesses’ needs that surpass the features of free online video platforms.

The main purpose of professional live streaming platforms is to host live broadcasts for businesses and other professional organizations. 

Some perks of hosting on a professional platform include monetization, customization, access to better security features, and fewer limitations. Many include integrated video paywalls and tools to ease integration with existing workflows. 

With the help of both video and player APIs, you have more control over your live streaming experience on both the ends of broadcasters and viewers.

Many of these professional business video streaming platforms, including Dacast, also offer around the clock 24/7 technical support. Most consumer-grade platforms don’t offer this kind of support. 

Another benefit of live streaming with a professional video delivery platform is that it typically does not put time restrictions on your streams. Many also offer white-label video players that can be embedded directly on your website with no trace of third-party ads or branding.

Live Streaming Platform And Pricing Comparison for 2021

In order to help make your search for the perfect corporate live streaming software a bit easier, we’ve collected up-to-date information on the best broadcast platforms’ pricing, pros, cons, features, and more.

Please note that the data in this live streaming video platform comparison comes from a number of different sources. For example, these sources include platform websites, user reviews, and free trial accounts.

We regularly update this comparison with every detail, as streaming platforms change services, plans, and features. 

Let’s take a look at the provider overview, basic functionality, key and detailed features, pros, cons, and pricing for the top Live Streaming Platforms for professionals.

1. Dacast

streaming platform
Dacast’s live streaming platform is the leading professional online video and hosting solution.

Overview and Company History:

With offices in London and San Francisco, Dacast is considered a competitive offering in a crowded marketplace. Dacast is a full-featured, self-service solution for both live streaming and VOD hosting

In 2020, Dacast made the finalist list Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small/Medium Business Video Platform. In 2019, Dacast acquired the vzaar platform, expanding its comprehensive OTT solution.

Basic Functionality:

Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and secure video hosting services. Users can embed videos on their own websites while maintaining 100% control of their content. Among other features, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.

Key Features:

Dacast distinguishes itself by offering high-end features with competitive pricing plans. These include ad-free broadcasting, white-label service on all plans, and top-tier CDN delivery. 24/7 phone support is also available for premium and enterprise-grade plans.

Additionally, the Dacast platform stands out from other OVPs with its ease-of-use and accessibility. Even new broadcasters can create a new live channel and start a new live stream in just a few minutes.

Detailed Features:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of a learning curve

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: None (but 240p is the recommended minimum)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p or 4K (depends on the user’s hardware and internet)
  • Aspect ratio: No restrictions (but 16:9 is the default)
  • Max file size: None
  • Max video length: None
  • Total file storage: 10-1000GB (depends on plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MP4 (preferred), MOV, M4V, M2V, AVI, MPG, FLV, WMV, MKV, WEBM, OGV, MXF, ASF, VOB, MTS

Pricing:

Streaming platform pricing plans with Dacast start at $39 per month and includes four levels:

  • Starter plan: ideal for newcomers with 1.2 TB of bandwidth and 50 GB of storage per year, at just $39 per month billed annually.
  • Scale plan: includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year, with 1 TB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These Scale pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, an M3U8 online player for live channels, ad insertion, white-label Cnames, and video API access. Additional bandwidth is available upon request for monthly plans. Read more here about Dacast’s live streaming pricing plans.
  • Event plan: for organizations that would rather not sign a contract, and want to purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event. It offers 6 TB of bandwidth upfront, 50 GB of storage, and costs just $63 per month (or $750/year). Additional data and storage can be added as needed.
  • Custom plan: if your enterprise business has high volume streaming needs, you can contact Dacast for a custom plan tailored to your needs.

For more details, you can check out this third-party review of several streaming platforms, including Dacast.

Try Dacast risk-free for 30 days with our free trial. Access all of our features and see how our live streaming platform can help you reach your streaming goals.

 

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2. Brightcove

brightcove live streaming platform dashboard
Brightcove’s Video Cloud uses an innovative HTML5 video player with the latest ingest and transcoding technology. Source: Brightcove

Overview and Company History:

Founded in 2004, Boston-based Brightcove is one of the oldest online video platforms in-game. Its product offerings focus on cloud encoding, live streaming, and VOD (video on demand) hosting.

In 2019, Brightcove acquired streaming platform Ooyala, known for its cloud video technology. Since the acquisition, Brightcove has announced end-of-life plans for the Ooyala OVP.

Basic Functionality:

Brightcove offers a number of modular products. These include: Video Cloud hosting, the Lift video player, Once for server-side ad insertion, Live for streaming video, OTT flow for internet TV, Zencoder for cloud video transcoding, and tools for monetization.

Key Features:

Brightcove’s features shine in the arena of analytics. Its detailed analytics and video marketing tools are quite valuable for businesses that aim to capture leads and understand their audience.

Detailed Features:

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
  • Global content delivery
  • Tech support, but only at a basic level with slow ticket-based responses (unless you upgrade to a paid support plan)
  • Video API access, but only on custom-priced plans
  • Security features, but with high-end features only available on custom plans
  • Monetization options, but only on custom-priced plans

Pros:

  • Good analytics
  • Includes custom video portals
  • CRM integration

Cons:

  • High price point
  • No live streaming with packages under  $499/month
  • Monetization limited to custom-priced plans
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: Determined by user
  • Maximum dimension: Determined by user
  • Aspect ratio: No restrictions (since Brightcove uses a responsive player)
  • Max file size: No limits on files size
  • Max video length: No published limits
  • Total file storage: Varies by plan
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, MKV, 3GPP

Pricing:

Mainly targeting huge clients, Brightcove offers several pricing plan levels but does not provide pricing. These include the following:

  • Starter: includes 50 to 200 videos, up to 100,000 plays, and 2-5 users
  • Professional: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with +10 users
  • Enterprise: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with 10+ users, unlimited upload, and analytics-only users

Brightcove also includes custom-priced plans for their Enterprise Video Suite packages. Interested broadcasters can contact their sales department to receive a quote or sign up for a 30-day free trial.

For more details, you can check out this third-party review of the platform as well. Note that this might change following the absorption of the former Ooyala video platform.

3. IBM Cloud Video (formerly UStream)

ibm video cloud live streaming platform
IBM’s steaming manager is an end-to-end solution, cloud-based OVP, ideally suited for live or on-demand content for Enterprise. Source: IBM Cloud Video

Overview and Company History:

Next up in our online video platform comparison is IBM Cloud Video (formally UStream). Founded in 2007 to connect military service members with family, IBM purchased UStream in 2016.

Basic Functionality:

IBM Live Video is a live streaming company first and foremost. However, it also hosts VOD (Video On Demand) files recorded from previous live streams.

Basic streaming accounts are free, with advertising supporting IBM Cloud Video. Paid accounts remove advertising and grant access to advanced features. Enterprise accounts allow for full custom branding and offer analytics, multiple live channels, content syndication, and more.

IBM offers phone support for Pro and Enterprise users, and forum-based support for free users.

Key Features:

IBM Cloud Video provides both a customer-grade and an Enterprise streaming solution. This platform also offers a unique Enterprise Content Delivery Network. Their professional-grade OVP has solutions for live event coverage, video marketing, monetization, marketing, and more. Its inclusivity justifies its elevated price point.

Detailed Features:

  • Enterprise video streaming
  • Enterprise content delivery network
  • Video distribution and workflow
  • OTT video management
  • Monetization
  • Live streaming 

Pros:

  • Reliable platform
  • Suitable for larger clients
  • Good customer support
  • Wide range of features for broadcasters
  • Hong Kong (China) video hosting

Cons:

  • Additional fees required in order to stream above 720p resolution
  • Poor closed captioning support

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 480p (480 x 270)
  • Maximum dimension:  4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: No published aspect ratio
  • Max file size: 4 GB
  • Max video length: No published limits
  • Total file storage: 1TB – 5TB (depends on plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MKV, MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, MPEG2, H264, H263, MPEG4, VP6, VP8, THEORA, WMV, MP3, AAC-LC, NELLYMOSER, PCM, SPEEX, VORBIS, WMA

Pricing:

IBM pricing plans range from $99 to $999 per month and include the following:

  • Silver: $99/month
  • Gold: $499/month
  • Platinum: $999/month
  • Custom: Please contact IBM Cloud video for custom plan pricing.

You can check out this third-party review for more details.

4. JW Player

JWplayer video streaming platform
JW Player’s live streaming platform is a sophisticated set of tools with a video player that is open source. Source: jwplayer.com

Overview and Company History:

First conceptualized in 2005 as part of a student project, JW Player began as a small piece of open-source code to play audio and video files. This code then became the basic video player for the fledgling YouTube, which continued to use the JW Player until Google acquired the platform.

Originally, JW Player was best known for its HTML5 video player for VOD content. In recent years, JW has expanded its video offerings beyond on-demand content to include live streaming.

Basic Functionality:

JW Player is perhaps best known for its HTML5 JW video player for VOD content.  This player supports MPEG-DASH playback, CSS skinning, DRM, and other advanced features. The company also now offers JW Live, a full-service live streaming provider.

Key Features:

In terms of JW Live, the platform supports HLS adaptive live streaming, multi-bitrate transcoding, simulcast to FB Live, and real-time analytics. The service advertises itself as simple-to-use with a four-step process for beginning a live stream. Overall, JW Live is designed for users with a large budget and/or a large business enterprise.

Detailed Features:

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
  • Global content delivery, but China’s delivery is blocked by the Great Firewall
  • Tech support, but only in the form of email support through the $100/month plan level
  • Video API access on all plans
  • Security features are basic but functional. Only custom-priced Enterprise plans offer DRM
  • Monetization (only via advertising)

Pros:

  • Great video player
  • Simple, easy-to-use platform
  • Good advertising tools

Cons:

  • Live streaming limited to custom-priced plans with a 6-hour duration
  • Only ad-based monetization
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 360p (640 x 360)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3, 2.39:1
  • Max file size: 25GB
  • Max video length: Not available
  • Total file storage: 25GB to 500GB (depends on the plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, WMV, AVI, MOV, 3GP, FLV

Pricing:

JW Player offers essentially 3 pricing plans. These include:

  • 30-day free trial subscription which includes full API and SDK access, and a non-commercial license, with 25 GB hosting bandwidth and 75 GB streaming.
  • Starter pricing plan for $10 per month, which includes an HTML5 Video Player and video gallery, with 150 GB hosting bandwidth and 500 GB streaming (50,000 plays) per month billed annually.
  • Enterprise plans are available with custom pricing for high-volume storage and streaming. Enterprise plans support live streaming, while lower-tier plans only support VOD.  

For more details, you can check out this third-party review of the platform.

5. Vimeo Livestream

Vimeo Livestream streaming platform
Vimeo’s Livestream offers live broadcasting and video hosting solutions for businesses of all sizes. Source: livestream.com

Overview and Company History:

Originally founded in 2007 as “Mogulus,” Livestream represented one of the largest live streaming companies in the world. 

In 2017, Vimeo acquired the Livestream platform. Since the acquisition, the two platforms have merged their services. 

Today, the Vimeo platform powers over 10 million events per year and focuses on an integrated system of hardware, software, and cloud services.

Basic Functionality:

Vimeo offers both streaming and video hosting services. This basic functionality includes analytics, a video management platform, privacy controls, and more. To access basic live streaming functionality, users must purchase a Premium plan.

Vimeo provides tech support via email for video hosting plans. For live support, users must purchase a Premium or Vimeo OTT custom plan.

Key Features:

What sets Vimeo apart is its offering of a range of proprietary hardware and software for live streaming. These offerings integrate smoothly with their platform, minimizing the fuss of implementing a live streaming program from the hardware on up. 

Detailed Features:

  • Video management service
  • High-quality videos and streams
  • Large storage capacity
  • Privacy options
  • Upload from anywhere

Pros:

  • Unlimited events and viewers
  • No ads
  • Sleek and professional appearance 
  • Thoroughly detailed analytics
  • Easy to use
  • Pay-per-view option

Cons:

  • Does not generate as much traffic as other sites
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Recommended dimension: 720p (1280 x 720)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: 3GB
  • Max video length: Information not available
  • Total file storage: Information not available
  • Compatible video formats: MP4 (recommended)

Pricing:

Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:

Vimeo Premium:

  • Premium pricing: $75/month
  • Their Premium plan includes both live streaming and VOD support. This plan is the best option for professional broadcasting on this platform.

Vimeo Enterprise:

  • Enterprise Pricing: Please contact Vimeo for custom pricing information
  • The Enterprise plan includes white-label service, monetization, and video API access. It also includes branding control and added security features.

Vimeo OTT:

  • Starter Pricing: $1/subscriber per month
  • Growth Pricing: starting at $500/month
  • This OTT-specific pricing package comes with the Vimeo.com relationship. These plans include all the basics for starting your web-based OTT channel, as well as growing your OTT business online.

For more details, check out our comprehensive guide to Vimeo Livestream pricing.  You can check out this third-party review of the platform.

6. Muvi

muvi live streaming video platform
Muvi’s live streaming platform is an all-inclusive, fully managed OTT solution. Source: muvi.com

Overview and Company History:

Next up in this review, Muvi is another of the best live streaming platforms focused on OTT media. This online video platform is unique in that it functions as a turnkey appliance for OTT broadcasters. In fact, this model empowers users to launch their own video or audio streaming platform quickly and easily. Additionally, the platform includes an all-inclusive and fully-featured website, mobile, and TV apps.

Basic Functionality:

Muvi is a PaaS-based live video streaming platform with an all-in-one OTT solution. Their OTT Multi-Screen Video Streaming service allows businesses to launch white-label multi-device video streaming, video on demand (VOD), and audio streaming. The platform includes fully managed, end-to-end solutions, all controlled from single streaming video CMS, with no coding or IT team required.

Key Features:

With Muvi, you can have your own multi-screen OTT Video On Demand (VOD) platform in an instant. Their video streaming solution comes with a plethora of functionalities and capabilities. The best part is that it is a very simple and straightforward service that doesn’t require any coding and development expertise as everything is fully managed from Muvi’s end.

Detailed Features:

Pros:

  • Hosting
  • CDN
  • Video CMS
  • Transcoding
  • DRM
  • Website and Apps for Mobile and TV.

Cons:

  • Not user friendly
  • Hard to integrate or connect
  • CMS user interface is complex
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 144p (256 x 144)
  • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840  x2160)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: not available
  • Max video length: not available
  • Total file storage: 1TB, 2TB, 5TB (depending on plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, MKV, FLV, VOB, M4V, AVI, 3GP, MPG

Pricing:

Muvi prices its plans at the following five levels:

  • Standard plan: $399/month (+ $299/month per app + infra fees), allows 2000 concurrent viewers, 1TB each of bandwidth and storage, and API access.
  • Professional plan: at $1,499 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) increases limits further and adds premium support.
  • Enterprise plan: $3,900 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) adds a dedicated server with auto-scaling.
  • Ultimate plan: $8,900/month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) doubles the bandwidth and storage of the enterprise plan and adds your own CDN and unlimited API calls.
  • Black plan: this is a custom solution and includes everything in the Ultimate plan plus premium services and project management.

For more information, check out this third-party review of the platform.

7. Panopto

Panopto Streaming Platform Dashboard
Panopto’s live streaming platform is a reliable solution for managing, streaming, and recording videos for any organization. Source: Panopto.com

Overview and Company History:

Founded in 2007 in Pittsburg at Carnegie Mellon University as a tech project, Panopto is a video company whose focus is on businesses and universities. This platform enables streaming, sharing, recording, and managing video content. With more than 100 employees in 6 offices around the world, Panopto serves an audience of over 5 million end-users in the e-learning space.

Basic Functionality:

With a primary focus on internal use for online education, Panopto provides powerful tools for creating “internal YouTubes” and integration with Learning Management Systems. Overall, Panopto is a more focused online video organization than the other best live streaming platforms considered here.

Key Features:

With Panopto, users have a single mobile-ready solution for video management, recording, live streaming, video search, quizzing, and analytics. Their video content management (CMS) system allows for the centralization of video streams, playlists, and playback.

Detailed Features:

  • Lecture-capture and video-search software
  • Analytics
  • Access control & security features
  • White-label streaming
  • Integration with LMS systems; APIs for further integrations.

Pros:

  • Audio Content
  • Document Indexing
  • Full-Text Search
  • Video Content
  • Asset Categorization
  • Customizable Branding
  • China video hosting

Cons:

  • No customizable templates
  • No image editor
  • No SEO management
  • No version control

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Compatible video formats: AVI, MP4, MPG, WMV, MOV, QT, ASF, 3GP, WMA, MP3, M4V
  • All other upload guidelines and specs are only available to paying customers. 

Pricing:

Panopto recently simplified its pricing packages and includes the following three options:

  • Basic: Free
  • Pro: $14.99/month
  • Enterprise: Please contact Panopto for custom pricing.

After establishing a contract, you have access to unlimited streaming and storage. However, this aspect may represent a potential downside for some streamers as Panopto does not handle any external-facing video content.

For more details, check out this third-party review of this streaming service.

8. StreamShark

Streamshark Live Streaming Platform
StreamShark’s OTT platform features a live streaming workflow with easy-to-use features and global CDN delivery. Source: StreamShark.io

Overview and Company History:

Founded in 2011 from research out of the University of Melbourne, StreamShark is another of the best live streaming platforms providing multi-faceted online video functionality. In fact, StreamShark is a business wing of MetaCDN. This means that the platform specializes in fast and innovative content delivery.

Basic Functionality:

As a streaming service, this company offers both a consumer-grade (B2C) platform and a distinct enterprise platform for streaming. StreamShark is a technology company with expertise in reliable video stream delivery for global reach. It excels at making the live streams of large-scale, high-profile events a massive success with viewers having an exceptional viewing experience.

Key Features:

Their live event platform offers users the ability to efficiently and reliably manage the different phases of an event’s stream while ensuring maximum reach and reliability of the live stream via its multi-vendor approach and HLS ingests. Additionally, the company focuses overall on providing global video CDN services.

Detailed Features:

Pros:

  • Localized media ingestion
  • Video Encoding
  • Redistribution
  • Increased storage space

Cons:

  • No Channel support
  • No embeddable playlists
  • Fair to no video analytics
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 240p (426 x 240)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: not available
  • Max video length: not available
  • Total file storage: 500GB, 1TB, 3TB
  • Compatible video formats: HLS, WebM VP9, WebM VP8, WebM VP9 DASH, MP4

Pricing:

Monthly live streaming plans with StreamShark begin at $199 per month and include the following:

  • Standard: $199/month and include 500 GB of VOD storage an additional overage of $0.10 per GB
  • Team: $499/month and includes 2,000 GB of storage, and lowers per GB overage prices to $0.09
  • Business: $499/month and includes 5,000 GB of storage, and reduces the overage to $0.08 per GB
  • Business: Please contact StreamShark for their custom enterprise solutions and plans

For more information, check out this third-party review of the platform.

9. Wowza

Wowza live streaming platform
<Wowza’s cloud streaming platform features a live streaming engine for business-critical applications. Source: Wowza.com

Overview and Company History:

Founded in 2005 by David Stubenvoll and Charlie Good, Wowza is a bootstrapped start-up, with live and on-demand live streaming capabilities to phones, tablets, consoles, focusing on greater accessibility, further flexibility, and the best cost-effectiveness.

Basic Functionality:

Wowza offers two main products, the first of which is the Wowza Streaming Engine. This product is widely used in the industry for self-hosted streaming. Wowza video streaming services, however, come with the Wowza Streaming Cloud offering. The Streaming Cloud functionality includes a variety of features aimed at providing low-latency content access to global audiences of all sizes.

Key Features:

Wowza live streaming platform’s core capabilities help developers, event producers, and technical entrepreneurs deliver live streams to their viewers/customers through third-party integration, captioning, API, and more.

Detailed Features:

  • Cloud management portal
  • Up to 4K streaming
  • Wide range of security options
  • APIs available
  • Live stream recording

Pros:

  • Audience Engagement
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Robust security
  • Mobile Screen Support
  • Video Streaming
  • Video Looping
  • China video delivery

Cons:

  • No Multistreaming
  • No Session Recording
  • No Video Monetization Tools
  • No Multiple Camera Feeds
  • No Audience Analytics
  • No Event Scheduling

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 240p (320 x 240)
  • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: Not available
  • Max video length: Not available
  • Total file storage: 250 GB (depends on the plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, FLV, MP3, SMIL, AMLST, ID3, NGRP

Pricing:

Wowza Streaming Cloud offers 3 distinct pricing plans and services. Live Event Pricing, monthly plans include:

  • Basic: $99/month; includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1000 viewing hours based on video resolution of 720p
  • One Month Event: $149 one-time purchase; includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1000 viewing hours also at 720p
  • Plus: $499/month; includes 150 hours of live streaming and 7000 viewing hours based on video resolution of 720p

All of these Live Event plans include full brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and HD and UHD streaming.

The Wowza Streaming Engine has its own pricing plans. These professional-grade streaming plans are billed annually and include:

  • Basic: $125/month + $145/month for each additional instance and $125/month for each additional prepaid instance
  • One Month Event: $245/month + $155/month for each additional instance and $95/month for each additional prepaid instance
  • Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high volume enterprise solutions

For more details, check out this third-party review of the platform.

10. Kaltura

Kaltura streaming and business video hosting solution
Kaltura provides the widest range of live streaming video solutions for any company through engaging video tools.

Overview and Company History:

With a video management foundation in its open-source software, Kaltura offers a unique focus on the live streaming market. Historically, this company has worked most extensively with educational institutions.

Basic Functionality:

While the Kaltura software is free, it requires an infrastructure of servers for hosting and distribution. This platform represents an alternative to the self-hosted model (e.g., Dacast). That said, Kaltura offers cloud-based video hosting and distribution services for both VOD and live streams.

Key Features:

Kaltura shines when it comes to extensibility. The open-source nature of their software means that a community of users creates and shares countless add-ons and integrations.

The downside of Kaltura’s extensibility, however, is that the platform can be confusing to use. With so many different features, it can be overwhelming for beginner users.

Detailed Features:

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming are included
  • Global content delivery via a combined CDN approach (with the option to bring your own CDN)
  • Tech support via a ticket-based system, which is slower than chat or phone
  • Video API access
  • Security features, including a range of authentication and encryption options
  • Monetization, including all major models (subscription, advertising, PPV streaming)

Pros:

  • Many available features
  • Good monetization options
  • Robust security

Cons:

  • No phone or chat support
  • Highly complex
  • No China video delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 180p (320 x 180)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920x 1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: 2GB
  • Max video length: Not available
  • Total file storage: 10GB to Unlimited (depends on the plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MOV, MP4

Pricing:

Kaltura doesn’t publish pricing information on its website. However, some users have said that plans start at about $1000 per month and go up from there. For more details, you can read about this platform’s pay-for-what-you-use pricing model.

Top Social Video Streaming Platforms

As we mentioned, free B2C streaming platforms like YouTube and Facebook are not ideal for video hosting on a professional level. However, they are useful for teasing content and building a loyal following for your brand.

Let’s take a look at a few of the top social media video streaming platforms.

11. YouTube

YouTube Live
YouTube is one of the most popular video platforms.

Overview and Company History:

YouTube was one of the first platforms to make online video streaming popular, and it has grown exponentially in the past decade. This Google-owned website is designed for consumers, but many businesses use it while they are getting into broadcasting. 

YouTube is not ideal for business video hosting since the site has strict limitations on monetization and other professional tools. Additionally, YouTube requires that broadcasters give up partial ownership of their content when they upload it to the platform.

Basic Functionality:

Youtube is a free B2C video streaming platform designed for users with little to no prior broadcasting experience.

Key Features:

YouTube is primarily a consumer-grade video sharing platform. It supports both VOD and live streaming, but the most popular content on the platform is on-demand videos.

Detailed Features:

  • Ad-based monetization limited to users with large followings and watch times
  • No notable security features
  • Popular among consumers
  • Powered by Google
  • Easy to share videos
  • Videos can be embedded in other websites
  • No white-label capabilities

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • YouTube is a household name, so viewers are comfortable using it
  • Easy to use (for both viewers and broadcasters)
  • Easy to embed video player
  • Live and VOD hosting

Cons:

  • Cannot remove YouTube’s branding
  • Limitations on live streaming
  • Strict restrictions on content
  • YouTube owns partial rights to your content
  • Distracting third party ads and branding

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 240p (426 x 240)
  • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 (adds padding to videos with other aspect ratios)
  • Max file size: 128 GB
  • Max video length: 12 hours
  • Total file storage: No storage limit
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, MPEG4, FLV, AVI, Web M, WMV, MPEG-PS, 3GPP

12. Dailymotion 

dailymotion streaming platform
Dailymotion is often referred to as “the French YouTube.”

Overview and Company History:

Dailymotion is a video streaming platform that calls itself a place where you can discover content you love from around the world, live or on-demand, and where video-makers are free to share their world and connect with a passionate audience. One thing that many broadcasters like about Dailymotion is that it allows just about any content whereas YouTube is quite strict.

The purpose of Dailymotion is essentially the same as YouTube. It is a basic platform for new broadcasters to upload and host video content. Since this site is free, it is pretty “bare bones” in terms of professional broadcasting tools.

Basic Functionality:

The growing popularity of Dailymotion and the greater freedom of expression makes this video streaming platform a great choice for many broadcasters.

Key Features:

DailyMotion is a basic video sharing platform that is primarily used by consumers and independent content creators. It includes tools for easy video sharing.

Detailed Features:

  • Basic video sharing platform
  • Based in France
  • Small creator’s fund
  • Copyright protection tools
  • Minimal content limitations

Pros:

  • Very few content restrictions
  • Growing in popularity around the world

Cons:

  • Not as popular as YouTube
  • No significant monetization tools (other than a slim “creator fund’)
  • Limited video analytics

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 240p (426 x 240)
  • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 (adds padding to videos with other aspect ratios)
  • Max file size: 128GB
  • Max video length: 12 hours
  • Total file storage: Unlimited
  • Compatible video formats: MOV, MPEG4, MP4, AVI, WMV,  MPEG-PS, FLV, 3GPP, WebM

13. Facebook Live 

Facebook Live Streaming Platform
Facebook is a social media platform that businesses use to reach consumers with video.

Overview and Company History:

When it comes to video hosting, Facebook offers both “Live” and “Watch” which allows businesses and organizations to host on-demand content or broadcast live content. 

Live streams can be hosted on personal profiles, pages, and groups, but on-demand “Facebook Watch” videos can only be published by Facebook Pages.

Facebook is commonly used by businesses and organizations that are just dipping their toes in the world of live broadcasting. Since it is a free platform, Facebook poses many challenges related to video ownership, time limits on videos, monetization, and more.

Aside from those few technical restrictions, live streaming with Facebook Live is valuable for connecting with existing audiences. 

Basic Functionality:

It is common for broadcasters who use premium streaming solutions to connect their accounts to multicast to both Facebook and their websites. This allows users to tap into their existing Facebook audiences while accessing the professional tools of a video hosting solution.

Key Features:

Facebook is a social media platform with tools for uploading and sharing videos to online communities.

Detailed Features:

Pros:

  • The app is free
  • Viewers are familiar with the platform
  • Live chat promotes engagement
  • Taps into existing following

Cons:

  • No monetization options
  • Time limits on live videos
  • Cannot remove Facebook’s branding

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 720p (1280×720) 
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920×1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 9:16, 2:3, 4:5, 1:1
  • Max file size: 4 GB
  • Max video length: 90 minutes
  • Total file storage: No storage limit
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, MPEG4, AVI, 3GPP, WMV, FLV, MKV

14. Instagram

Instagram Streaming Platform
Instagram is an app for sharing photos and videos.

Overview and Company History:

Instagram is a popular social media app that includes a variety of video-sharing features. This app is not suitable for video hosting, but it is a great option for video sharing. 

Basic Functionality:

Both consumers and businesses upload small shareable clips to the platform to share with followers. Businesses often use this tool to tease the content on their site or app. They add CTAs that lead users to their websites with products or longer videos.

Key Features:

Instagram is a social media platform for sharing pictures and videos. It is more of a social network than a live streaming platform

Detailed Features:

  • Live streaming on stories
  • Video and photo sharing
  • Direct messaging tools (which can be used to share posts and interact)
  • Minimal privacy controls
  • Some business tools

Pros:

  • Free to download and use
  • Popular among most age groups
  • Easy to navigate
  • Uploading and sharing is almost instantaneous
  • Some business tools

Cons:

  • No monetization features
  • Limited privacy tools
  • Minimal professional features

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 864 x 1080 (recommended)
  • Maximum dimension: 864 x 1080 (recommended)
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16, 4:5
  • Max file size: 15 MB
  • Max video length: Depends on which feature you use
  • Total file storage: Unlimited
  • Compatible video formats: MP4

15. TikTok

Tiktok Live Streaming Platform
TikTok is very popular with Gen Z users.

Overview and Company History:

TikTok is a live video streaming app that is still relatively new to the scene and its algorithm is geared towards growth. That means that it’s relatively easy to go viral and build a following on this app, even if it’s by mistake.

TikTok is a social media platform through and through, but when used strategically, businesses can use it to lead viewers to their websites for their intended conversion.

Basic Functionality:

Please note that the majority of TikTok users are Gen Zers, which means that most viewers on the platform are around the age of 25 and younger. This option is best suited for businesses with an audience in that age group.

Key Features:

TikTok has some live streaming tools, but the platform is primarily used for sharing short video clips.

Detailed Features:

  • Highly controlled live streaming tools
  • 15-60 second video sharing
  • “Dueting” tool which allows users to use parts of existing videos for their own
  • “For You Page” that generates content based on viewers’ interests
  • Very young users

Pros:

  • Free to download and use
  • The algorithm makes it easy to go viral
  • Suitable for quick growth
  • Generates a “For You Page” based on viewer behavior

Cons:

  • Extremely limited monetization options
  • A 60-second video length limit
  • Cannot remove TikTok branding

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 1080 x 1920
  • Maximum dimension: 1080 x 1920
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Max file size: 287.6 MB  on iOS and 72 MB on Android
  • Max video length: 60 seconds
  • Total file storage: No storage limit
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV

16. Twitch

Twitch Streaming Platform
Twitch is a popular video platform for streaming content geared towards video games and special interests.

Overview and Company History:

Twitch is a live streaming app that doubles as a social media platform. It was founded 9 years ago as Justin.tv. Justin.tv no longer exists, and they spun off the original platform, and sold it to Amazon.

Viewers can subscribe to their favorite streamers so that they are alerted when they go live.

Basic Functionality:

Twitch.tv is a consumer-grade platform for independent streamers, and it is especially popular among Esport (video game) streamers.

This site is pretty niche, but it is a great platform if you are trying to reach an audience in the gaming, fantasy, or tech industry.

Key Features:

Twitch is a social network that is primarily meant for Esport streaming.

Detailed Features:

  • Viewers can “Tip” streamers
  • Primarily used by streamers who broadcast gaming and special interests/hobbies
  • Tools for an audience to chat with streamers and each other in real-time

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Relatively easy for beginners to use 
  • Tools for engagement and community interaction

Cons:

  • Not designed for professional use
  • It May require some encoding tools
  • Limited monetization tools
  • Strict community guidelines

Upload Guidelines and Specs:

  • Minimum dimension: 720p (1280 x 720)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: Not available
  • Max video length: 48 hours
  • Total file storage: Not available
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV

Pricing:

Twitch does not charge content providers to use their platform, but they allow them to make money off of their users. This program is called Twitch Subscriptions, and it includes 3 tiers:

  • Tier 1 subscription – $4.99/month
  • Tier 2 subscription – $9.99/month
  • Tier 3 subscription – $24.99/month

How to Create a User-Facing Live Streaming Platform

All of the professional-grade streaming platforms we covered above are great options for hosting and managing your video content, but you will need to create a user-facing platform where viewers can access your videos and streams.

Depending on which streaming platform you choose, you will either be able to customize a video gallery through that platform or you’ll have to build a custom site to embed your video player.

Dacast, for example, offers an Expo Video Portal where broadcasters can organize their content by playlists for viewers to access. This portal can be easily customized to reflect your branding and best suit your audience.

As you create your live streaming platform, you’ll need to work out details regarding pricing, monetization structures, and more. 

For more information, please check out our dedicated guide to building a live streaming website in 6 easy steps.

Conclusion

As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of capable streaming solutions on the market. As a result, however, it can be challenging to choose the right fit for you from the best live streaming platforms.

We hope this article has helped you to get a better idea of the streaming platforms available. Most importantly, we hope you’ve had success in narrowing down your live streaming service provider.

Still not sure which streaming service to choose? We highly recommend taking advantage of free trials for the best live stream platforms. 

On that note, why not start today with the Dacast 30-day free trial? Sign up today to begin streaming live in a matter of minutes. No credit card required.

GET STARTED FOR FREE

Any questions, comments, or additions? Let us know in the comments section below. For exclusive offers and regular tips on live streaming, join our LinkedIn group.

Please note that this post was originally written by Max Wilbert. It was revised by Emily Krings to include the most up-to-date information. Emily is a strategic content writer and storyteller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

30 thoughts on “Top 16 Live Streaming Platforms: Everything You Need to Know [2021 Update]

  1. Karachi TV says:

    Live streaming has a wide variety of topics from social media like Facebook live, YouTube live to video games live streaming. The competition is high. The list is great best live streaming platforms for all needs.

  2. glenn says:

    so after looking at all this, I still am not sure who to go with because of not knowing more details. I wanted to launch my own network, and had been looking at livestream before vimeo took it over, and what they had was the ability to hold your past recordings and make them accessible to your page, and als have the ability to have people chat on your page as you did a live show. those are the features I would want, yet does anyone else offer them together? its one thing just for a recording to be put in the cloud, but do they have the ability to access them like vimeo does? and does anyone else have live chatting during a broadcast?

    • Etienne Noualhat says:

      Hey Glenn.
      So for Live chat, you can easily find tools that would help you with that, basically adding a chat on your page is not something really hard, thus why so many platforms do not bother with that feature.
      For the recording, of course, with the feature auto-recording, we have at Dacast, if you actually stream, your record will be already available with a link 2 minutes after you actually recorded it, on the cloud.
      The best for you would be to try the 30 days free trial!

  3. Elsie Reeve says:

    Great Post with great knowledge, Now it become very challenging to choose right online streaming channel for you with great packages.
    Thank you so much for making it easy to choose what is best for us

  4. Mondli says:

    I am looking to host a livestream at once for 3 days with a 4 hour segment each. People should be registered to attend this event. Which one would you recommend?

    • Maciek says:

      Thank you for your interest in Dacast’s Streaming Solutions. I have forwarded your inquiry to either our sales or support team and they will reply to you shortly. Have a great day!

  5. Vince says:

    When broadcasting a live stream can i also broadcast a live audio feed, like a commentary? Say a football match for example?

    Can i also then schedule pre-recorded programming on Dacast that can easily be mixed with live programming?

    Is there an audio option also?

    • Maciek says:

      Thank you for your interest in Dacast’s Streaming Solutions. Please contact our Customer Support team at this link and someone will be more than happy to assist you. Have a great day!

  6. Wilson Lo says:

    I am planning to create a market place of selling different live streaming events. With the great knowledge of your passage,I could know that some of them may suit my need. However is there any difference in their CDN technology,which would have quality difference in live streaming?Like which platform would have lower latency and better connection and screen quality?And are these platform support for multistreaming,such as the audience could raise a request to live streaming with the host in front of other audience?

    • Maciek says:

      Thank you for your interest in Dacast’s Streaming Solutions. I have forwarded your inquiry to either our sales or support team and they will reply to you shortly. Have a great day!

  7. Kerrie Levi says:

    MadLife Stage & Studios, Woodstock, Ga is looking for a way to Live Streaming from a paying platform live performances from our music venue. Please have someone reach out so we can have a discussion about this. We are looking to do this at the beginning of June to have another revenue for income to come in while this covid virus is still ongoing. Thank you, Kerrie Levi

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Kerrie, Thank you for your message. I forwarded your message to our sales team, and one of my colleagues should contact you asap to discuss more in detail about your project. Let me know if you have further questions. Have a great day. Best,

  8. Russell B says:

    Hi there. I am thinking about live streaming bike rides around where I live (countryside) so the disabled who are bedridden could watch and interact with me via voice. Is that doable ?

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Russell, I hope you are well. That’s a wonderful project! Yes, this is totally doable. Our platform is a one-way communication service, so that seems to be in line with your project. Have you created your Dacast account already? You can test it for free for 30-day: https://www.dacast.com/ Please let us know if you have any further questions. Best,

  9. SHUKRI MUTALIB says:

    I’m looking for a live streaming and would like to have a 2 way communication like Q&A to a targeted audience and others can comment and admin should be able to monitor the message before it can be published.

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Shukri, thank you for your message. We do not have a chat service integrated, but you can go through us to stream and install a live chat application on your site so your viewers can send their questions (ex app: Chatroll or Cbox). Let me know if you have any further questions and I would be happy to help! Have a great day.

  10. Patrick says:

    My Company wants to put on a virtual conference with the ability for the presenter to see all 500 participants webcams.
    What would be the best way to go about it from a software point of view?

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Patrick, I hope you are great. You should have received a message from my colleague Mike Cloward. Check out this article for more info on our virtual streaming solutions. If you need further information, please feel free to contact us at team@dacast.com
      Best regards

  11. Siddude says:

    Which platform can offer me over 1 million viewers at a time while the speaker speaks – has the best quality output with lesser drops

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Siddude, I hope you are great. My colleague Zac answered to you by message directly. Let us know if you have any other questions.
      Best regards

      • Tonia Davis says:

        Hi there! I am interested in a possible platform for ministry on Wednesday’s (Bible Investment) and Sunday’s (teaching). What platform would you suggest?

  12. Renae says:

    I am looking to start online cooking classes but would like to be able to record, edit and save after a live feed. It will also be a paid live feed/recorded event. Which would be the best for that?

  13. Jami says:

    i am planning a closed monthly paid video streaming service with both continuously free to watch videos and changing weekly watchable videos. Is the platform as such suitable for this purpose and which package would be appropriate? The service would start from scratch, but it is hoped that there will be thousands of subscribers.

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