Video is expected to make up 80% of all internet traffic within the next three years. Live streaming is expected to account for a sizable proportion of this traffic. In fact, industry insiders are calling this the “video first” revolution. Visual content is on the rise, and businesses that don’t invest in video now are already falling behind. This article will help you learn how to get on board and make the most of this trend. Specifically, this post focuses on video APIs, and the streaming video services that offer access to video APIs.
Some other trends to keep in mind: major corporations are doubling down on video streaming. Case-in-point: Redbox has launced a new streaming service, Disney plans to enter the streaming market in 2019, and on the B2B side IBM recently purchased UStream and launched IBM cloud video. And those are just a few examples!
APIs are critical to all of those services. Actually, they’re key to most online videos we see today. APIs enable amazing customization and integration. In this article, we’ll review the basics of video APIs. We’ll also cover what streaming video services allow you to do via their API. We’ll also go over the skyrocketing use of video APIs. Finally, we’ll briefly review five streaming video services that offer API access.
Let’s dive right in!
1. API basics
Before we go further, let’s first review the basics of what APIs are and how they work.
The fundamentals of video API operation
The term API stands for Application Programming Interface. Simply put, an API is a simplified interface for a program or service. APIs are available for many digital services and products. APIs are becoming more and more essential in many industries. In many ways, an API is like an electric plug. It’s a standardized interface. You can build many different types of devices that jack into a standard electric plug. Additionally, this works even if you travel internationally! For example, you can adapt a device for another type of electric grid to work with any electric plug.
Imagine if we didn’t have standardized plugs. We would have to design each appliance specifically for the place we want to use that appliance. Voltage and amperage would vary wildly. Safety would be an issue.
Following that analogy, an API is a solution to a similar problem. It provides a simplified, standardized method for interacting with a given platform or service. Video APIs grant access to streaming video services and hosting. Users can write simple code to build their own web, mobile, or desktop applications. In turn, these apps interface with their streaming video services.
Also, note that this code uses understandable language and a regular format. This makes it much, much easier to develop custom applications and integrations. APIs save time, effort, and expense. It’s not surprising, then, that software developers love APIs.
What an API enables you to do with streaming video services
Sure, APIs make life easier. But what is easier, exactly? Well, we can use APIs for a wide variety of tasks. Now, let’s consider a few examples from our experience in live streaming video services here at Dacast.
Example 1 – OTT industry: integrations and portals
The entertainment industry widely uses APIs. As TV and premium content increasingly move online, the industry is adapting fast. Online content (OTT) is taking over. Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Go all support this trend. For example, Netflix grew from 17.4 million subscribers in 2015 to 93.8 million by the end of 2016.
Among our API users are several TV stations. They use the Dacast video API to integrate OTT video in their own media workflow. From there, TV stations can upload and manage their content directly from their own environment. They don’t even need to log in to their Dacast account. Their viewers access the video on their online video portal.
Example 2 – Reseller industry: access to platforms
One industry in which API access is essential is value-added reselling. Resellers purchase a streaming plan with bulk bandwidth. Then, they resell functionality to other parties.
Let’s look at an example. Striv.tv provides streaming video services to more than 80 high schools in the United States. Their contracts also allow them to deliver multimedia production education to students.
The platform exists on top of Dacast’s using our video API. This allows Striv.tv to deploy a customized video streaming web platform to each school. These platforms run on Dacast, but an API customizes and serves them.
Example 3 – Video education and partner access
Video is increasingly being used in education as well. Online learning, flipped classroom models, and lecture capture are rising in popularity. Video services provide a way to build community and share knowledge while leveraging modern technology. The good news–getting started with educational video streaming is easy.
Our example comes from MorningCME. As a Continuing Medical Education provider, MorningCME works with hospitals and clinics in rural areas. In coordination with cutting-edge medical institutions, they offer video training to users.
Their use of the Dacast API allows them to provide access to partners. These partners can upload and stream video content via the MorningCME website. This is all taking place on the Dacast system, but transparently. They describe the Dacast video API as “critical to our success.”
2. Skyrocketing video API usage in 2018 and beyond
Here at Dacast, we’ve seen a major boost in usage of our API. As we discussed in our white paper on the Video API Revolution, data usage by our API customers is rising fast.
API usage accounts for about 84 percent of all Dacast data use. This reflects the fact that serious, professional broadcasters are choosing APIs. And those broadcasters are the most likely to use the most data and stream 24/7 at high resolutions.
Video APIs represent a business opportunity
In 2016, analysts estimated that mobile ad revenue represented a $16 billion revenue opportunity in the US alone. Video ads make up a major part of revenue. And this is just one example of the business opportunities of video APIs.
With the industry experiencing a rapid pivot towards online content, APIs are critical. At their core, APIs represent an opportunity. Video, as we’ve shared, is a powerful tool. It’s highly engaging and effective as a communication medium.
A video API allows you to leverage this tool in new, more powerful, and more efficient ways.
3. Five streaming video services offering video API access
Now you understand what an API is, why they’re important, and how they work. Let’s turn to review a number of video streaming services, including our own streaming solutions. As we all have limited time, we’ve devised a short list of pros and cons for each platform.
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Watermarking (starting $999 per month)
- Integrated hardware offerings
- Live Chat
- Analytics (starting $199 per month)
- API only available with custom plans
Livestream pricing starts at $900 billed annually or $199 per month. This plan doesn’t include security features, white label streaming, pay-per-view, or 24/7 streaming support. For those features you’ll need an Enterprise plan, which starts at $999 per month and up.
IBM Cloud Video (formerly Ustream)
- Auto archiving
- White label (starting $799 per month)
- Plays on Facebook and Twitter
- Referrer restriction (starting $399 per month)
- Password protection
- Limited number of live channels
IBM Cloud Video’s Channel API (their video API) is only available on Media/Enterprise plans. These are priced on a custom basis at more than $1,000 per month.
- Unlimited number of viewers
- Low latency solution
- White label
- Embeddable player
- No Paywall
Wowza has custom pricing for API-based plans. Pricing for these plans depends on the number of hours of streaming you conduct. Likewise, pricing reflects the bandwidth and storage you use, as well as the number of simultaneous channels you need.
- Analytics dashboard
- Monetization options
- Security options
- Open-source, expandable via plugins
- Active community
- Complex platform
Kaltura pricing are not available on their website. Bandwidth, storage, transcoding time, plays, live streaming time, and number of end users all contribute to your final costs.
- Akamai CDN
- Monetization options
- Security options
- Analytics dashboard and Google Analytics tracking
- White label embeddable player
- Live transcoding not supported (but video transcoding services available and multi-bitrate streaming easy to do via your live stream encoding software)
Dacast pricing starts at just $19 per month for our Starter Plan. For higher-end features (video API, monetization, VOD chapter markers) and more bandwidth, the Premium Plan costs $125/month. For even cheaper bandwidth, Enterprise ($289/month) and Custom plans are also available.
It’s an altogether exciting time for online video. At least, it feels that way to us! It’s certainly true that APIs have changed the way that many people and industries use online video. Specifically, and as we explored above, video APIs are enabling creative new uses for streaming video solutions.
Hopefully, this post has helped to emphasize the importance of video APIs. We’ve also used this post to highlight five streaming video services that offer video API access. That way, you can take full advantage of the huge opportunity that is online video!
Interested in testing a video API? You can start today with the Dacast 30-day free trial (no credit card required). Just sign up below, and then contact us to talk about your streaming project using our video API.
Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about streaming video services and video API? Let us know in the comments section, below! For exclusive offers and regular tips on live streaming, feel free to join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading and, as always, happy broadcasting!
By Max Wilbert.