In the words of marketing guru Neil Patel, “Live video streaming is accessible and beneficial to everyone, and it’s time you started using it.” Before you do so, however, you’ll want to consider live streaming CDN pricing, as well as pricing for video streaming CDN hosts. This post offers a live streaming CDN pricing comparison with updated information for 2019.
Live streaming with a powerful and scalable CDN can be a key element in many different types of modern businesses. It can help you promote products or services, share entertainment, drive sales, or produce revenue directly through monetization. However, your decision-making ultimately comes down to ROI–return on your investment. To that end, this piece will help you to understand the potential costs of doing business in the live streaming industry.
First, we’ll introduce you to the purpose of a CDN and why they are important for live streaming. Then, we’ll dive into the pricing details by comparing live streaming CDN pricing for six of the top streaming solutions on the market.
Now, let’s start with an introduction to content delivery networks in general.
Understanding the basics of CDNs
Before we begin, let’s do a brief overview of CDN networks. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. As the name implies, a CDN is a network—specifically, a network of computer servers. Its purpose is content delivery, hence the name.
In practice, a CDN consists of computer servers located in data centers around the world. Users of the CDN service can leverage this network to help distribute video-on-demand, live streaming video, and other types of content.
The CDN network automatically duplicates and caches content dynamically in locations nearby demand. Therefore, users located in far-flung corners of the globe will be automatically redirected to nearby CDN servers. This reduces latency and increases speed. Plus, it reduces the chance of failure. That’s since the load is distributed among many different servers rather than concentrated on just one or a few.
Why a CDN is essential for professional live streaming
For modern live-streaming broadcasters, using a CDN is essential. As one review notes, “Video streaming is one of the largest mega-trends today… Despite the advent of ABR [Adaptive Bit Rate] and HTTP streaming, there still is a need for live video delivery, since live video can’t be cached like the content that has been previously recorded.”
Delivery can be a major challenge without a live streaming CDN. Some choose to roll their own live streaming server. However, this approach has multiple and significant drawbacks. For example, it incurs technical debt. Beyond the expense of hardware itself, you also have to account for maintenance and engineering staff time. Costs can rise rapidly compared to working with an external provider.
Working with an external CDN provider comes with multiple benefits. These include lower latency due to geographic proximity, as mentioned above. Quality and speed can also rise since each server is handling a smaller load. Buffering may be reduced. Reliability is higher since CDN architecture is by nature redundant with built-in fail-safes. Security can also be improved since DDoS attacks (flooding a website with malicious requests) are thwarted by massive CDNs.
How live streaming CDN pricing works
Live streaming CDN pricing varies depending on a variety of factors. Often this includes the amount of bandwidth you need, required features, and the region in which you will be streaming.
Different platforms use different pricing models. Many CDNs use complex per-GB pricing with different regional rates and additional fees for features like transcoding. This approach can be a bit confusing, especially for newcomers to the industry. If you don’t have a good idea of exactly what features you will need and exactly how much bandwidth you may use, this sort of pricing is a shot in the dark.
In this article, we’re comparing two different types of platforms. First, we’ll look at pure CDNs. These require some setup to use. Second, we’ll look at online video platforms that use CDNs for content delivery. These platforms provide additional features and maybe a better option for most video broadcasters.
Comparing top live streaming CDN pricing
Now we understand the key elements of the system. Next, let’s dive into the actual live streaming CDN pricing comparison. In this segment, we’re going to look at six providers. These are Akamai, CloudFront, Dacast, IBM Cloud Video, Azure, and EdgeCast.
The first CDN provider we’ll look at here is Akamai. Akamai is the largest (240,000+ servers), and one of the oldest, CDNs on the planet. They’ve been in the business for a long time and work with many of the largest websites in the world to deliver video and all other types of content.
Their “Media Services Live” division provides live streaming video delivery. This platform includes a range of features that can be reviewed on their website.
Akamai does not publish pricing information on their website. Each contract is custom priced based on the amount of bandwidth you need, features, and more. However, there is an easy way to access the Akamai CDN with simple, transparent, affordable pricing. Skip ahead to the Dacast section for more on this.
Amazon CloudFront CDN
Next up is Amazon’s CloudFront CDN. CloudFront is part of the Amazon AWS cloud computing platform. This is a reliable service that is widely used in the industry. CloudFront supports a range of live streaming video features.
Pricing for this CDN is based on region. For example, content delivery inside the US starts at 8.5 cents for GB for the first 10 TB of data. Prices tend to be higher in regions with less developed infrastructure.
Next, let’s look at our own video streaming solutions. Dacast works exclusively with the world’s best top-tier CDNs to deliver its video content and resell its streaming data at a very special price. All live streaming and VOD content is delivered via Limelight or Akamai. Dacast also adds a wide range of video features, many of which are unavailable with other CDN providers.
Pricing is cost-competitive. A Developer plan is just $21 per month for new streamers and low-volume needs. The popular Scale Plan ($125/month) adds pro-features like monetization and video API access and reduces per-GB bandwidth costs. Custom-priced plans are also available for high-volume streaming needs.
Finally, if live streaming an event interests you, we also offer event-based pricing, which is ideal for one-time events or the occasional broadcaster.
IBM Cloud Video
Next, let’s look at the IBM Cloud Video platform. This service was created several years ago after IBM acquired the live streaming service UStream (2017). IBM Cloud Video is an online video platform and uses an internal CDN network for content delivery. Today, they offer plans suitable for small and medium-scale live streaming. These plans cap resolution to 720p and costs $99 to $999 per month.
The basic Silver plan ($99 per month) includes 100 ad-free viewer hours, 50 GB of storage, and one live streaming channel. This is an IBM-branded plan. The Gold plan ($499 per month) bumps streaming to 2,000 viewer hours, 250 GB storage, 2 channels, and includes analytics. The Platinum plan ($999/month) includes 5,000 viewer hours, 3 channels, and 500 GB storage, plus white label custom branding.
For larger users, Enterprise plans are available.
Next, let’s examine Microsoft’s Azure CDN. Azure delivers all sorts of content. However, they have a dedicated “Media Services division” that focuses on live streaming and on-demand video.
Like many other CDN’s, Azure pricing depends on the region. In the western US, live streaming starts at $0.99 per hour, per live channel. Encoding can be added for an additional fee. The first 5 GB of bandwidth is free, and after that, bandwidth varies from 8.7 cents down to 5 cents per GB. The more you use, the cheaper it is.
Tech support is an additional fee starting at $29.99 per month for basic support.
The final service we’ll look at briefly is called Edgecast. The EdgeCast CDN is widely distributed globally and known for speed. They offer a dedicated live streaming and online video platform called Uplynk.
Live streaming CDN pricing details are not available online. Like Akamai, EdgeCast negotiates each contract on a customized basis. You need to contact them and discuss your specific needs if you are interested in getting a quote.
And that’s a wrap for our 2020 live streaming CDN pricing review. After reading this article, we hope you have a clearer understanding of the options out there for live streaming content delivery.
Of course, we do hope you’ll consider the Dacast professional streaming platform for your live broadcast needs. Dacast provides an affordable, high-performance live streaming CDN service that you can customize to your particular needs. Are you ready to check out how our live streaming solution 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. Just click the button below to start streaming live in a matter of minutes:
Thanks for reading! We love to hear from our readers, so if you have any questions or experiences to share, let us know in the comments. And for regular tips on live streaming, feel free to join our LinkedIn group.