Cloud Video Hosting: What Professional Broadcasters Need to Know

Cloud Video Hosting

More enterprises are moving to the cloud each year. With video content becoming so important, it only makes sense to shift their video hosting and streaming to the cloud as well. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into cloud video hosting and streaming for broadcasters.

More specifically, we’ll take a closer look at what video streaming and hosting servers are and how they work. We’ll also get into cloud streaming and cloud video transcoding. Finally, we’ll cover the key features to look for in a cloud video hosting platform and some of the top solutions available on the market.

Let’s dive into it.

Table of Contents:

  • Streaming & Video Hosting Servers
  • What Is Cloud Streaming?
  • Cloud Video Transcoding
  • Key Features of a Cloud Video Hosting Platform
  • Top 12 Cloud Video Hosting Platforms
  • Conclusion

Video Streaming & Hosting Servers

Video Streaming & Hosting Servers
Video streaming relies on servers for hosting and delivery

A video streaming and hosting server—similar to any other web server —is a computer that’s configured to deliver data to clients or end-users. In the case of video content, the server has software for ingesting or uploading videos, storing or hosting the files, and preparing the content for delivery.

How Do Video Streaming Servers Work?

More specifically, video streaming servers ingest live streams over RTMP from an encoder that’s receiving input from cameras and other hardware. For video on demand (VOD) content, broadcasters simply upload the files to the server over HTTP.

Either way, the video files are hosted on the server, where they can be prepared for delivery in a variety of formats using transcoding. For example, live streams that are ingested via RTMP are often transcoded into HLS for delivery to end-users.

The complexity of video streaming makes the process resource-intensive in terms of both storage and processing power. That means broadcasters need a multitude of video streaming servers to get the job done.

What Is Cloud Video Streaming?

Cloud Video Streaming
Cloud video streaming leverages a network of servers around the world.

Cloud streaming is a method for storing and delivering video content using a set of cloud servers rather than on-premise servers. Cloud streaming with software as a service (SaaS) solution can greatly simplify the streaming process for broadcasters.

With cloud streaming, broadcasters no longer have to worry about maintaining servers and other infrastructure with an in-house IT staff. They also won’t need to invest in the hardware itself upfront, so companies are able to focus on producing quality content rather than dealing with technical issues. 

As their audience grows, brands can also scale more quickly and easily in the cloud than on-premise setup. More importantly, however, when live events are over, and traffic is lower, broadcasters won’t have expensive servers sitting idle either.

Cloud Video Transcoding

cloud transcoding for live video streaming
Cloud video transcoding uses cloud servers to transcoding video at scale.

When broadcasters record live streaming events, their camera, and other hardware creates enormous RAW video files. These formats are often unsuitable for transfer and delivery to end-users. 

That’s why, as mentioned before, videos need to be transcoding into a variety of formats for delivery. Transcoding on-premise, however, takes computing resources away from the initial encoding process and uses more bandwidth on the network.

Cloud video transcoding leverages cloud computing resources to ensure compatibility with a wide range of formats. In addition, the ability to easily support multiple formats allows broadcasters to deliver adaptive bitrate streaming for universal video playback.

Key Features of a Cloud Video Hosting Platform

Before we look at some of the best cloud video hosting options to choose from, let’s cover some essential features for broadcasters.

1. Video Monetization

video monetization
With video monetization features, broadcasters can generate revenue from their videos in a number of different ways.

Most broadcasters will want to generate revenue from their video content, so it’s crucial that their cloud video hosting platform has easy-to-use video monetization capabilities. Brands should be able to set up subscriptions, ad-based video monetization, and pay-per-view options. Moreover, there should be a secure paywall system to charge viewers across the globe.

2. Video Content Management System (CMS)

A cloud video hosting platform with video CMS features allows broadcasters to better organize and action their videos. These features should include the ability to sort and tag files so that they’re easier to access as the company’s library grows. In addition, more advanced video CMS solutions have customer-facing features that can analyze the metadata of individual videos to suggest related content to viewers.

3. Video APIs

video monetization and customization via API
Video APIs provide essential tools to enable your business with video, enhance your mobile apps, or build your own video content management system.

Broadcasters should have complete control over delivering video content to their audience. With a robust and well-documented video API, brands can integrate video content into mobile apps, business applications, or other cloud software. A powerful API gives developers the ability to access video content and features from the cloud video hosting platform to implement more advanced business use cases.

4. Direct S3 Upload

There shouldn’t be any friction for adding content to a cloud video hosting platform. That’s why broadcasters need the ability to upload large files directly via FTP/S3 to the cloud host without the limitations of HTTP transfer. 

5. Mobile Video Streaming & Hosting

Dacast New Platform - Mobile Video Hosting
Broadcasters need a universally compatible cloud platform and video player with mobile device support.

Today’s audiences are quickly shifting to mobile video streaming. That means an effective cloud video hosting platform should be compatible with a multitude of devices by streaming over HLS to an HTML5 video player. That way, broadcasters can reach a broader audience and deliver a high-quality viewing experience on mobile devices.

6. Chapter Markers

The viewing experience is crucial for today’s audiences. Using chapter markers, brands can mark sections of content by topic to assist viewers in finding what they’re interested in. A cloud video hosting platform with chapter marketers and other advanced playback features can help brands and their audiences get the most out of their video content.

7. Live Recording

Dacast New Platform - Sales Platform - Live event recording
Live stream recording can maximize the ROI of live events.

Along with uploading video content, broadcasters that host live events should be able to record live streams for playback later. The cloud video host platform, therefore, should have a scalable live recording capability that doesn’t impact the stream itself.

8. Playlist Schedulers

While many viewers are cutting the cord and shifting towards online broadcasters, many still value the TV viewing experience. With playlist scheduling features, brands can pre-schedule round-the-clock content and ads to provide a viewing experience similar to a TV without the headache.

9. Security 

Broadcasters should have confidence that their cloud video platform follows security standards and privacy regulations. That way, they won’t lose valuable video content due to piracy, hacking, or another disaster. An enterprise-grade platform should include password protection, domain restrictions, encryption, and other advanced security measures.

10. Video on Demand

Video Content Management System (CMS)
Broadcasters shouldn’t be limited to how they deliver their video content.

Many broadcasters offer both live streaming and Video on demand (VOD) content. This requires a powerful cloud video hosting platform that can ingest a variety of video files, encode or transcode them into a format suitable for storage, and easily share this video content across the Internet.

11. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

While a cloud platform may be scalable, the performance end-users experience often depends on the location of the servers geographically. A top-tier CDN network with servers worldwide could be critical for reducing buffering and latency issues associated with delivery video streams long distances.

12. Pricing

The subscription costs and live streaming pricing for a cloud video platform can vary depending on traffic, storage requirements, and many other factors. It’s crucial that broadcasters choose a platform that offers the features they need at a reasonable price while providing room for growth in the near-term as well.

Top 12 Cloud Video Hosting Platforms

Let’s briefly cover the top 12 cloud video hosting platforms available today.

1. Dacast

Dacast Cloud Video Hosting & live streaming platform
Dacast’s Cloud Video Hosting platform supports both live streaming and video on demand content delivery.

Company Background:

Dacast offers enterprise-grade cloud video streaming and hosting capabilities at reasonable prices. The cloud platform is ideal for broadcasters with unique business requirements in terms of video streaming and storage.

The Dacast cloud platform makes it easy for users of all experience levels to get started with live streaming on their websites and across the internet. Once users learn the platform in-depth, they’ll have a feature-rich platform at their disposal.

Basic Functionality:

Dacast is a cloud video platform for brands that need a scalable, enterprise-grade solution.

Key Features:

Pros:

Cons:

  • The slight learning curve for using the multitude of features available

Pricing:

Dacast has plans starting at $21/month, as well as special event pricing and custom enterprise plans.

Best Use Cases:

2. Brightcove

Brightcove Cloud Video Hosting platform
Brightcove was built for marketing and monetization in mind.

Company Background:

Brightcove is a cloud video hosting and publishing company that has a user base spanning 70 countries worldwide.

Its video cloud solution was built for marketing and monetization in mind. That way, broadcasters can integrate a variety of marketing, advertising, and communication applications to achieve more with their video content.

Basic Functionality:

Brightcove is an enterprise-grade cloud video platform with the capability for video delivery and video marketing. It’s designed to handle all of a brand’s video needs.

Key Features:

  • Over-the-top (OTT) cloud streaming
  • 24/7 live streaming through the cloud
  • Monetization and advertising
  • Dozens of cloud app integrations

Pros:

  • Enterprise-grade privacy and security
  • Intuitive online interface 
  • Pre-built cloud integrations
  • Customer support

Cons:

  • Time-consuming to learn the platform
  • Limited analytics and reporting
  • 24/7 support isn’t free
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Brightcove has pricing specific to each customer. Contact them for a quote.

Best Use Cases:

  • Live event cloud streaming
  • Streaming live sports
  • Enterprise and marketing cloud video hosting
  • Streaming video for sales

3. IBM Video Cloud

IBM Video Cloud Hosting platform
IBM Video Cloud users pay a premium for reliability.

Company Background:

IBM Video Cloud is a reliable cloud video hosting platform. It offers live streaming and VOD capabilities through the cloud, but this comes at a cost.

Basic Functionality:

IBM Video Cloud offers cloud-based live streaming and VOD services.

Key Features:

  • Cloud streaming for video live and on-demand
  • Secure sharing of video content in the cloud

Pros:

  • Reliable streaming
  • Robust features for broadcasters
  • Enterprise-grade capabilities
  • Responsive customer support
  • Hong Kong (China) video hosting

Cons:

  • Doesn’t use a CDN
  • No tools for monetization
  • General plans don’t offer APIs support

Pricing:

IBM Video Cloud offers plans from $99/month to $999/month. Custom plans are also available for enterprise customers.

Best Use Cases:

  • Cloud streaming video for sales
  • Marketing and enterprise cloud video hosting
  • Live event streaming

4. Kaltura

Kaltura Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Kaltura is a SaaS video solution for large institutions.

Company Background:

Kaltura—the Israel-based video company—offers a cloud video hosting SaaS solution hosted on the Kaltura cloud. The service offers live streaming and VOD for large institutions.

Basic Functionality:

Kaltura focused on cloud video management and hosting capabilities for employers and universities that want to offer educational content to employees and students.

Key Features:

  • Kaltura Cloud for hosting content
  • Cloud TV service
  • Advanced Security

Pros:

  • Monetization options
  • Useful for Education and Enterprise education
  • Hands-off SaaS solution

Cons:

  • Challenging to learn
  • Slow uploading and processing
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

As with most SaaS solutions, Kaltura charges based on bandwidth and feature usage. There are free trials available as well.

Best Use Cases:

  • Enterprises and Education cloud video hosting
  • Cloud video streaming for sales
  • Live event streaming in the cloud

5. Wistia

Wistia Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Wistia is a video hosting solution that provides TV-quality features.

Company Background:

Wistia is a cloud video hosting solution that offers “TV-quality” streaming. It includes a video player that’s customizable with branding, annotation links, CTAs, and more.

Basic Functionality:

Wistia’s cloud solution allows broadcasters to easily create, manage, and stream videos.

Key Features:

  • Interactive cloud tools for video
  • Channels and “up-next” features
  • CRM integrations
  • Cloud video storage and management=

Pros:

  • Cloud video organization
  • Custom branding
  • Useful analytics
  • Customer support available

Cons:

  • Problems with customization options
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Wistia has tiered pricing, which includes free, $99/month, and custom pricing.

Best Use Cases:

  • Live event streaming through the cloud
  • Enterprise and marketing cloud video hosting
  • Cloud streaming video for sales

6. Vidyard

Vidyard Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Vidyard is a cloud video platform built for marketing, sales, and corporate communications.

Company Background:

Vidyard is a cloud video platform that provides businesses with everything they need to share professional video content. There are different packages available for marketing, sales, and corporate communications.

Basic Functionality:

Vidyard aims to give its users an all-in-one solution for converting viewers into customers.

Key Features:

  • Cloud video hosting
  • Advanced security for its cloud platform

Pros:

  • Active user community
  • Customer service
  • Cloud integrations

Cons:

  • Issues with consistency
  • Complex backend
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Vidyard has a pricing structure based on the intended use-case of its platform. The marketing and sales packages have free and paid plans, while the corporate communications packages are individually priced.

Best Use Cases:

  • Enterprise cloud video hosting
  • Marketing cloud video hosting
  • Cloud video streaming for sales

7. DailyMotion

Dailymotion Cloud Video Hosting Platform
DailyMotion is a well-known video hosting and streaming service.

Company Background:

DailyMotion is a cloud-based video hosting and live streaming service for businesses.

Basic Functionality:

DailyMotion makes it easy to upload and share videos in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-based video infrastructure
  • Integration with many gaming platforms
  • Localized interface for viewers in 35 countries and 18 languages

Pros:

  • Support for a global audience
  • Unlimited cloud storage and bandwidth
  • China video delivery with Huawei partnership

Cons:

  • Limited file size and duration of videos
  • Doesn’t support private cloud video hosting

Pricing:

DailyMotion is a mostly free cloud platform but offers paid plans to increase video exposure.

Best Use Cases:

  • Live streaming video in the cloud
  • Public cloud video hosting

8. JWPlayer

JW Player Cloud Video Hosting Platform
JWPlayer is a video streaming option for companies with a limited budget.

Company Background:

JW Player offers cloud live streaming and VOD hosting. The service has lower pricing options but has some drawbacks as well. JW Player is great for companies with a limited budget.

Basic Functionality:

JW Player provides limited cloud-based video services and capabilities at low price points.

Key Features:

  • Video distribution management in the cloud
  • Cloud streaming to any device
  • Suitable for any company size

Pros:

  • Great sales support
  • Affordable
  • Customer service

Cons:

  • No API support for live streams
  • Uses internal server network for content delivery
  • Limits live events to 5 hours
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

JW Player offers non-commercial cloud hosting up to 25GB and 75GB of streaming. Paid plans start at $10/month, with custom enterprise plans available as well.

Best Use Cases:

  • Enterprise and marketing cloud video hosting
  • Cloud streaming video for sales

9. Livestream (Vimeo)

Vimeo's Livestream Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Livestream by Vimeo has advanced marketing features for large organizations.

Company Background:

Livestream is a cloud service by Vimeo for large organizations. The solution specializes in advanced marketing features for live streaming events.

Basic Functionality:

Livestream is a comprehensive cloud service for streaming, managing, and monitoring videos in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-based live streaming
  • Advanced marketing capabilities
  • Cloud video management
  • Audience interaction features

Pros:

  • In-depth analytics
  • Easy for both users and viewers to use
  • Works directly with YouTube 

Cons:

  • Limited CDN support
  • Frequent software updates interrupt streams
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Livestream plans start at $75/month. There are also custom enterprise plans available through their sales team.

Best Use Cases:

  • Marketing cloud video hosting
  • Live event streaming through the cloud

10. Panopto

Panopto Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Panopto is a cloud video solution geared towards large businesses and universities.

Company Background:

Panopto is a cloud video solution for businesses and universities. In fact, its platform serves over 5 million end-users in the global online learning space.

Basic Functionality:

Panopto specializes in internal cloud video streaming for education. It integrates with learning management systems (LMSs) to manage and organize videos efficiently in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Mobile-ready solution
  • Live streaming and recording in the cloud
  • Cloud video management
  • White-label streaming

Pros:

  • Video and Audio content support
  • China video hosting
  • Regional video cloud infrastructure
  • Custom branding

Cons:

  • No SEO management
  • No version control

Pricing:

Panopto prices based on a licensing model that’s determined by the number of users or students accessing the content. While Panopto doesn’t handle external-facing content, the plan does include unlimited streaming and cloud storage.

Best Use Cases:

  • E-learning 
  • Educational cloud video streaming
  • Corporate training videos in the cloud

11. SproutVideo

Sproutvideo Cloud Video Hosting Platform
SproutVideo is a cloud video solution with options for every budget.

Company Background:

SproutVideo is a cloud-based live streaming and on-demand video service. The platform has bare-bones plans through to fully-featured solutions.

Basic Functionality:

SproutVideo offers capabilities for live streaming and VOD in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Cloud live streaming and video hosting
  • Advanced privacy and security features
  • Live chat support with every plan

Pros:

  • In-depth analytics
  • Plans available for all budget sizes

Cons:

  • Occasional buffering issues
  • Limited storage at lower plans
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

SproutVideo has several plans: Seed ($24.99/month), Sprout ($54.99/month), Tree ($199.99/month) and Forest ($499.99/month). There’s a 30-day trial available as well.

Best Use Cases:

  • Cloud-based live streaming
  • VOD cloud hosting
  • Enterprise video streaming through the cloud

12. Vimeo Live

Vimeo Live Cloud Video Hosting Platform
Vimeo Live is a reliable platform for live streaming events.

Company Background:

Vimeo Live is a cloud service for hosting reliable live streaming events. The platform includes a professional toolset for broadcasters.

Basic Functionality:

Vimeo Live is a comprehensive cloud platform for video hosting and live streaming.

Key Features:

  • Cloud live streaming
  • Video hosting in the cloud
  • Advanced distribution and marketing tools

Pros:

  • Highly Professional interface
  • Easy to get started
  • Unlimited events and viewers

Cons:

  • Generates less traffic than some competitors
  • Potential issues with connection to an internal server
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Vimeo Live offers plans from $7/month for the basics through to $75/month for unlimited live streaming.

Best Use Cases:

  • Cloud streaming video for sales
  • Enterprise and marketing cloud video hosting
  • Cloud-based Live event streaming

Conclusion

Cloud video platforms are changing the way broadcasters operate. The ability to host videos and deliver live streaming events at scale is crucial for achieving more with video content. Choosing the right cloud video hosting solution, however, makes all the difference.

Dacast is an online video platform (OVP) and a cloud video hosting solution that’s secure and feature-rich. That’s why voters in the 2019 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards chose Dacast as the best solution for small/medium businesses.

Try our 30-day trial and see if the platform is right for your needs. Dacast’s cloud solution is ready to grow with your business.

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