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 live streaming service APIs and the solutions 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 launched a new streaming service, Disney entered the streaming market with Disney+ on November 12, 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 5 streaming video providers that offer API access.
Let’s dive right in!
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.
API Enables 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 moves 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 live sports broadcasting 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 captures 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 online video education platform solution 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.”
Skyrocketing Video API Usage
Here at Dacast, we’ve seen a major boost in the usage of our API for streaming video. As we discussed in our white paper on the Video API Revolution, data usage by our API customers is rising fast.
API streaming video 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.
Top 5 Video Streaming 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 shortlist of pros and cons for each platform.
Vimeo’s Livestream offering includes all the basics an OVP would offer: live streaming, video on demand, auto-recording of live streams, and so on. Streams can take place using an encoder and are delivered in multiple bitrates to mobile devices, desktops, smart TVs, and other devices.
Vimeo’s best features include subscription monetization, API access, custom video portals, and more. However, these features cost a lot of money to access. Costs can rise rapidly when these features are added to your plan.
- 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 $75 per month billed annually. 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.
2. IBM Cloud Video
Once known as “Ustream,” IBM Cloud Video is very well known in the streaming industry. Although it is pricey, it offers hosting for both live and on-demand videos.
IBM Cloud Video plans include relatively basic video functionality. 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.
- Auto archiving
- White label (starting $799 per month)
- Plays on Facebook and Twitter
- Referrer restriction (starting $399 per month)
- Password protection
- A limited number of live channels
IBM Cloud Video’s Channel API (their video API) is only available on Media/Enterprise plans. These are custom live streaming plans priced at more than $999 per month.
One of the earliest live video streaming solutions we wanted to review here is Wowza Streaming Cloud. Wowza is feature-rich and provides a customizable platform for broadcasters of all sorts. It was founded in 2005 by David Stubenvoll and Charlie Good. Wowza is a bootstrap start-up, with live and on-demand live streaming capabilities.
Wowza offers two main products. The first is the Wowza Streaming Engine. This product is widely used in the industry for self-hosted streaming. The second is the Wowza Streaming Cloud offering. This functionality includes a variety of features aimed at providing low-latency content access to global audiences.
- Unlimited number of viewers
- Low latency solution
- White label
- Embeddable player
- No Multistreaming
Wowza pricing plans range from $49 per month to $199 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.
The Kaltura online video platform targets large institutions. In particular, Kaltura focuses on four markets: video services for educational institutions, enterprises, media companies, and OTT video services. Historically, this company has worked most extensively with educational institutions.
This video streaming solution is an alternative to the self-hosted model. The software for Kaltura is free, however, it requires an infrastructure of servers for hosting and distributing content. Kaltura provides cloud-based video hosting and distribution for both VOD and live streams.
- Analytics dashboard
- Monetization options
- Security options
- Open-source, expandable via plugins
- Active community
- Complex platform
Kaltura pricing is not available on their website. Bandwidth, storage, transcoding time, plays, live streaming time, and the number of end-users all contribute to your final costs.
Dacast is a video streaming platform for both live and on demand content. Today, the Dacast platform delivers high-quality streaming worldwide at very competitive pricing.
Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and online video hosting services. Broadcasters who use this live video streaming solution maintains 100% of their content. Among other features, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.
Last year, Dacast earned the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small/Medium Business Video Platform and Runner-Up for Best Education Video Platform. And in 2019, Dacast acquired the vzaar platform, expanding its comprehensive OTT solution.
Since Dacast is SaaS software, the platform is a key provider of cloud video streaming solutions. Dacast’s key features are ad-free broadcasting, white-label service on all plans, and top-tier CDN delivery. Reliable 24/7 phone support is also available for scale and event plans.
- Live streaming and VOD streaming packages on all pricing plans
- Unlimited concurrent viewers
- Unlimited live channels
- White label and branding control
- Embeddable HTML5 video player
- SVOD, AVOD and TVOD monetization options
- Mobile device support
- Live stream recording
- China Video Hosting
- Plans for every budget
- Requires a bit of a learning curve
Dacast live streaming pricing starts with the Developer plan, which is ideal for newcomers with 100 GB of bandwidth, 20 GB of storage, at just $21 per month billed annually.
However, business users will likely want to use the popular Event plan, which includes 6,000 GB of bandwidth with 10 GB of storage for $63 per month billed annually. The Scale plan includes 2,000 GB with 1,000 GB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These premium pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, M3u8 links for live channels, ads 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.
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 the 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!