As traditional television continues to stagnate and decline, the OTT (Over The Top) video industry is exploding. Watching subscription-based OTT video services is a daily habit for more than 60 percent of adults in the US. That number continues to grow as video hosting solutions drive major traffic.
This blog will look at a topic that is critical for OTT service providers: where to host your content. Generally, only the largest OTT businesses can afford to build their own server network to distribute online video content. As an alternative, most OTT businesses host content with external partners.
Specifically, this post will review five different video hosting and streaming solutions. These online platforms are capable of hosting, managing, and delivering either live streaming or VOD (Video On-Demand) content. We’ll look at each video streaming platform from a professional perspective, assessing each to see how it can meet your needs, and how it compares to the competition.
Case studies in OTT video hosting solutions
Services like Netflix have seen exponential growth in stock prices due to their OTT business model. Similarly, Amazon Prime, iTunes video, and services like HBO GO have been very successful as well. Worldwide OTT revenue was roughly $46.5 billion in 2017. That number is expected to rise to $83.4 billion by 2022.
Here at DaCast, we’ve worked with a variety of broadcasters in the OTT industry. Some are TV stations developing online replay portals to remain competitive in a changing market. These users include the French-language channel IDF1 and the Danish-Flemish channel BVN.
Other OTT industry users are less traditional. For example, some organizations or sporting associations are developing online portals for video content. These portals follow an OTT model and fit in the scope of this article.
One example is Striv.tv, a DaCast customer which uses our hosting to stream events for a network of more than 70 secondary schools in the United States. Another is PlaySight, which uses high-definition cameras installed in sporting venues to stream and record matches. Their system also adds value by using machine learning and automated data collection to provide statistics, instant replay, and tools to help players improve their game.
As you can see, the OTT industry is a big tent. All the OTT service providers under that tent needs video hosting solutions.
What OTT service providers need from video hosting solutions
What should an OTT business look for in a hosting solution? We believe there are several major categories to consider.
API Access – An API (Application Programming Interface) is essential for most OTT businesses. That’s because it facilitates programmatic interactions with your video platform. You can easily integrate existing workflows, build custom web or mobile apps, and more. An API is the ultimate power-user tool and saves companies a great deal of development time, effort, and money.
Monetization Tools – Most OTT businesses are monetizing through subscriptions or a pay-per-view model. Some choose advertising. At DaCast you can now integrate pre-roll ads directly from your DaCast account.
Whatever your monetization method, look for a video hosting service that supports that.
Flexible Security Options – Privacy and security are major concerns for OTT businesses. Online piracy costs the U.S. economy more than $20 billion per year. Secure online video platforms should offer a wide range of flexible tools for restricting access to content.
Bandwidth – Depending on the volume you stream at, bandwidth can get expensive for OTT businesses. Look for a platform that provides plenty of bandwidth at a good price.
Cost-Competitive – Video streaming solutions come in a range of pricing levels. However, the more expensive platforms don’t always provide the best features. This is a highly competitive market and many more affordable options actually have better functionality than the highest-priced options. Price should definitely factor into your calculations, especially since OTT businesses can chew through bandwidth pretty fast.
Comparing 5 video hosting solutions for OTT
Now that we have a baseline to compare against, let’s compare five top video hosting solutions for OTT businesses.
B2C platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook)
First, we’re going to look at a category of hosting services: free platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. These services have some good features, notably searchability (YouTube) and large audience size.
However, these aren’t suitable for business users. That’s because they don’t support most of the features necessary for OTT users. The corporate branding of these services is also unprofessional, and advertising distracts from content. If you use these services at all, use them to help drive traffic to video hosted via a professional service on your own websites. That way, you can benefit.
The first B2B (Business-to-Business) video hosting solutions we’ll examine is Ooyala. Ooyala provides a wide range of services for OTT media companies and other businesses. The service is capable, but details are light on their website. As such, Ooyala is a bit of a wild card in this article. They’re capable, but figuring out your cost will require some effort.
- API: The Ooyala platform includes a wide variety of APIs.
- Monetization: Various monetization options are supported
- Security: custom (details not available)
- Bandwidth: custom (details not available)
- Cost: Each contract is custom negotiated, and pricing information isn’t available online—you have to call and discuss your specific needs to get a price. Online review state that pricing begins at around $500/month.
IBM Cloud Video
Next, let’s take a look at IBM Cloud Video. Formerly known as UStream, the IBM Cloud Video platform provides a mix of powerful features—but at a price. For example, to get access to white label service (something included at all DaCast plan levels) requires the $999/month Platinum Plan.
Here’s how IBM Cloud Video compares:
- API: Access to the platform via API is available, but only included on custom-priced “Media and Enterprise Plans.”
- Monetization: No monetization tools are built-in to the IBM Cloud Video platform.
- Security: Password protection is included on the Silver Plan ($99/month). The Gold Plan ($499/month) adds embed restrictions.. The Platinum Plan ($999) month includes full embed controls and a private channel URL.
- Bandwidth: IBM Cloud Video plans include bandwidth as “viewer hours” rather than GB. The Silver plan includes 100 hours, the Gold Plan includes 2,000 hours, and the Platinum plan includes 5,000 hours.
- Cost: As noted above, plans range from $99/month to $999 per month. There are also custom plans available with higher pricing for larger businesses.
Third, let’s examine Livestream. Livestream is a full-service video hosting and live streaming platform. Advantages of the service include unlimited bandwidth on all plans. Livestream also offers custom software and hardware for producing and encoding streams. However, it can be difficult to use the service without using these proprietary products.
As far as the features listed above:
- API: Available on Enterprise plans starting at $999 per month.
- Monetization: Ads and monetization are also supported only on Enterprise plans costing $999 and up.
- Security: Basic privacy and security controls are available with the Premium plan, starting at $199/month. More advanced tools (and some basic ones like password protection) are restricted to Enterprise plans.
- Bandwidth: Unlimited bandwidth on all plans.
- Cost: As noted, the Enterprise plan ($999/month) is needed for most OTT features. The Premium plan ($199/month) is a more basic option.
Finally, let’s take a close look at our own live streaming and video hosting solution. As we’ve mentioned, DaCast already works with a range of OTT businesses. The solution is feature-packed and easy-to-use. All streams are delivered via the top-tier Akamai CDN (Content Distribution Network).
Here’s how DaCast stacks up in terms of the options we’ve listed above.
- API: Included on the affordably-priced Premium Plan ($125/month, includes 2 TB bandwidth) and above. Provides full access to all platform features.
- Monetization: Includes a paywall for subscriptions and pay-per-view monetization. Advertising is supported via direct integration, no coding needed to inset ads from a variety of servers and networks.
- Security: Built-in security features include the ability to blacklist/whitelist certain countries (via IP address) and website domains.
- Bandwidth: our Premium Plan gets you access to 2000 GB of streaming data, 200 GB of storage, and 24/7 customer support at no extra cost along with ALL DaCast features.That’s the best price around for Akamai-delivered content.
- Cost: The Premium and Enterprise Plan, as already mentioned, cost $125/month and $289/month respectively. Besides bandwidth and storage, these plans pack the same features. Users with greater needs can also purchase custom plans. There is also a starter plan available for just $19 per month, but it’s not intended for OTT businesses.
The streaming market can be a confusing place if you’re new to it. Hopefully, this article has prepared you to select between video hosting solutions with confidence. But what if you need more help? DaCast offers a range of Professional Services to help OTT businesses get up and running.
If you’d like to try out our streaming solution, you can check out how our live streaming platform could boost your business with our 30 day free trial (no credit card required). We’d love to help you meet your streaming goals today.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live streams.