You’ve made the decision that you’re going to create content online, now it’s time to figure out how you’re planning to get it seen. You will want your content in front of the maximum number of viewers possible. That’s where a live streaming content delivery network (CDN) comes in.
There are many possible live streaming solutions on the market that streamline online broadcasting, but you’ll need to consider the technical elements of content distribution, as well. Among these technical considerations is ensuring that you can deliver your content quickly and effectively to a large audience.
A smooth streaming experience allows you to share your video content and business in the best possible way. Buffering, slowdowns, stream interruptions, and other glitches can ruin an otherwise excellent video production. Choosing the right live streaming CDN can make all the difference in addressing these elements and others.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the value of CDNs for live streaming before we compare 10 of the top live streaming CDN providers on the market. We will wrap things up by taking a look at four video hosting platforms with reliable CDN partnerships.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers and data centers. They have a goal of providing high-quality video to the end-user. It’s essentially a cell phone tower for video content. The servers are located in various locations across the globe. These networks cache content, which is the process of copying data and storing it in multiple different locations.
The terms “content delivery network” and “content distribution network” can be used interchangeably since there is no difference between the two. They both distribute and deliver content to the end-user.
Today, video streaming CDNs deliver a large portion of the data that is sent over the internet at any given moment. Businesses in particular, which may experience fluctuating demand for data or cannot afford the hefty cost of deploying servers worldwide, usually rely on CDNs for their content.
Content that goes through a CDN can include text, images, video, and much more. However, CDNs are most often used to distribute large files. It’s important to understand that the internet isn’t automatic and instantaneous.
A CDN allows you to use a widely distributed network of live streaming servers for your content. Typically, viewers who request content from a CDN are automatically routed to the closest server, as we mentioned above. This is called the “edge” server. A viewer’s IP address generally dictates the server to which they’re directed.
Additional distance between a given server and the user adds more potential latency (i.e., lag time) to the internet connection. Essentially, a live streaming CDN makes streaming go more smoothly for all viewers. A top-tier CDN reduces buffering and maximizes the quality of secure live video streaming.
The speed at which content reaches your computer or mobile device doesn’t depend only on your connection speed. Content delivery speeds are also determined by the number of “jumps” that content has to make en route. If an old and/or distant server is the host, for example, web content on that server may load very slowly.
All that said, a high-quality CDN can revolutionize and streamline that entire process. That way, you can focus on creating high-quality content for your viewers!
There are two main benefits of a CDN.
Other benefits to using a live streaming CDN include increased resilience and scalability.
Imagine that you’re live streaming from a single server and suddenly your content goes viral. All at once, ten thousand people request data from your server. This overloads your machine, causing it to crash. At this point, no one can access your stream.
This is a disaster scenario for video distribution, especially in the case of monetized streams.
With a live streaming CDN, the server network distributes loads like this across dozens, hundreds, or thousands of servers. That means that video content can be reliably delivered to thousands or even millions of viewers at once without service interruptions. For professionals, this sort of reliability is essential. Especially when it comes to scalability.
The final major benefit is that live streaming CDNs reduce costs and technical overhead. It’s possible to build your own global network of servers to deliver your content to users. However, this requires a great deal of expense (hardware, electric costs, maintenance, etc.) and a dedicated, round-the-clock staff.
By choosing a streaming solution integrated with a CDN, you’re renting access to a global network of high-performance and professionally-built servers. Broadcasters can all gain access to speed, reliability, security, performance, and more without the attendant costs. That way, Your business can focus on bigger problems instead of worrying about servers crashing if you create viral content.
Many CDNs for live streaming are optimizing infrastructure to speed up users’ access to information, which reduces data access costs for enterprises. CDNs are important for live streaming because they allow your viewership to grow. Businesses want to scale, and without the use of a CDN for live streaming, this isn’t possible. When a business doesn’t use a content delivery network, they run the risk of latency, security breaches, and remaining small.
Besides the main benefits, we mentioned above, using a CDN for live streaming has many more business-specific benefits. Here are a few:
When you visit a website and watch a video on the internet, a server is involved. Your computer sends a signal to a server requesting content, which in turn gets delivered to you. You know that a CDN is made out of hundreds if not thousands of these servers. The same thing goes for video hosting platforms. While you may not see a connection, there is.
While you can host videos online for free on YouTube, as a business, you’ll want a more professional streaming platform. The dedicated online video streaming service you choose will provide a network of computer servers that will store your video content for you. It also provides a robust network connection so that your viewers can access the videos quickly and easily without any network lag.
As a business, you need the best options to begin your remote video strategy. If you stick to the free, public platforms, there will be a limit to your growth. However, if you use a secure video hosting platform and CDNs for live streaming, your growth can continue and there’s no stopping you.
Many of the top video hosting solutions use HTTP live streaming (HLS), which is supported on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, and almost every other modern platform. It doesn’t require a plugin but instead uses built-in HTML5 browser functionality. HLS streaming via an HTML5 video player is now by far the preferred method for video playback.
In 2019, over 79% of all global consumer web traffic comes from video, most likely from HTML5. That figure continues to grow in 2021. Given this trend, HTML5 and mobile-compatible live streaming are absolutely essential for businesses.
Dacast provides an HTML5 player that can be embedded on any website or app. This video player is white-label and fully customizable, which means you can add your own company’s branding, colors, and more. In order to deliver your video, you can utilize the latest cutting-edge technologies and long-established standards.
There are many different ways to get access to a live streaming CDN. For one, you could set up a deal yourself. Large CDN streaming customers generally work with petabytes of data and spend tens of thousands of dollars on bandwidth.
Alternatively, many CDNs now offer pay-as-you-go contracts for smaller users. These are usually billed for bandwidth on a per-GB basis. If you have video files residing on your own servers, you can connect this server to a live streaming CDN if you expect major traffic.
When dealing with live streaming video distribution, however, this topic becomes more complex. The technical setup required to configure a CDN for use with live streaming video is relatively intricate.
In recent years, more CDNs have made it easier for businesses to distribute video content via live streaming over their network. Still, for ease of use, the best way to get access to a powerful live streaming CDN is via a video streaming platform.
With the explosion of internet content and online video content, many CDNs provide web infrastructure video distribution services today.
Each CDN has a different focus and strength. For example, some focus on specific geographic regions. Others specialize in different types of content.
As a business, you must choose the streaming CDN that works best for your business model. You have to consider features, reliability, and CDN pricing.
Each streaming CDN is a little different in terms of functionality, features offerings, and pricing. Let’s take a look at 10 of the top live streaming CDN providers on the market.
The first live streaming CDN we’ll examine here is Akamai. Akamai is one of the oldest CDNs in the world. It’s also the largest network, with more than 240,000 servers located in more than 130 countries.
A behemoth in the industry, Akamai delivers between 15-30% of all web traffic. A whopping 96 out of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. rely on Akamai for content delivery. Major Akamai customers include Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Healthcare.gov. Dacast also partners with this CDN.
This makes Akamai the largest single CDN in the world. Collectively, this infrastructure delivers 30 Terabits of data per second.
The Akamai platform supports live streaming and on-demand video hosting. They provide several other features including analytics, video security, privacy settings, HTML5 video delivery, and support for a wide range of codecs and protocols.
Akamai pricing is customized for each user based on the features they need, the size of their business, bandwidth requirements, and other factors. However, these 2 tiers are available online for comparison:
Hailing from the Microsoft technology powerhouse, Microsoft Azure is a streaming CDN that broadcasters rely on for global content delivery. This live streaming CDN is easy to set up which makes it suitable for beginners. Azure also uses a pay-as-you-go pricing structure, which makes it a good choice for broadcasters with a wide variety of budgets.
Microsoft Azure brings together the support of other top-tier content delivery networks, including some that we’ve mentioned on this list. We’d also like to point out that Microsoft Azure is a CDN that delivers video among other types of media.
Microsoft Azure uses a complex pricing structure based on zones and usage. We recommend checking out their pricing page to learn more about costs based on your unique broadcasting needs.
Next, let’s take a look at Cloudflare. Cloudflare is a growing streaming CDN with widely distributed Point of Presence (PoP) worldwide. PoP is an artificial demarcation point or interface point between communicating entities.
Their video hosting offering incorporates some great features, including cloud encoding and customizable HTML5 video players. They also support API access.
Cloudflare has simple, transparent pricing plans. Their packages have 4 tiers:
Fastly offers a global, cloud-based video CDN geared towards business video streaming. This platform has several products for video streaming, including security, load balancing, and image optimization.
The Fastly platform has a specific focus on content delivery optimization.
Fastly prices their services based on the region where you’re streaming to. For example, streaming to North America is $0.12/GB for the first 10 TB, $0.08/GB for the next 10 TB, and $0.0075 per 10,000 requests.
Please check out the Fastly pricing page for a complete list of bandwidth and request costs for other regions.
CloudFront is the CDN offering from Amazon’s Web Services division. CloudFront has servers in 28 countries, which is a relatively small number when you compare to 130 countries when you look at Akamai. However, the United States and Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America all have good coverage. However, they do not yet have coverage in Africa.
This can have an impact on the performance of your live stream, especially if you are hosting a global event. Overall, Cloudfront tends to be 14% slower than Akamai. This is useful information to consider for smooth and high-performing delivery of your online video content.
Their service is popular and widely used for hosting large downloads and web files. It also supports video streaming, both live and on-demand. CloudFront’s system is pretty basic, but you can build on your own features using external tools and using the API.
CloudFront pricing is on-demand and based on geographic region, bandwidth usage, and the features you need. CloudFront offers 3 tiers:
CDN77 is a live streaming CDN provider that offers access to a video CDN and advanced cybersecurity services.CDN77 offers support for both security and video content delivery.
This company is trusted by major video creation and distribution companies like TedX, Udemy, and Eleven Sports.
The reason that this CDN is so popular is that it is reliable, secure, and scalable, which makes it very desirable to broadcasters.
In addition to custom-priced, high-volume plans, CDN has some standard pricing options available. These plans include:
Please check out the CDN77 site for higher bandwidth needs.
Best known as a cell phone service provider, Verizon also offers CDN services via its Edgecast network. With 20 Terabits of capacity and 95 nodes located around the world, this CDN is quite large. However, it is still smaller than Akamai’s CDN, though Edgecast has expanded more than 340% in the last 2.5 years.
Verizon offers a live streaming video solution natively via its Digital Media Services division. This service is aimed at major enterprise users with large budgets.
Verizon does not publish pricing for Edgecast.
Leaseweb offers a wide variety of digital services, including content delivery. The platform offers access to both private live streaming CDNs and multi-CDNs. This content delivery company was founded over two decades ago, making it a longtime player in the content delivery game.
The Leaseweb CDN is pretty standard in terms of video CDN functionality. It simply delivers video content to viewers around the world.
Leaseweb does not publish pricing information on its website.
StackPath is an edge computing service and content delivery service. This company’s global CDN delivers videos and other media to viewers worldwide. StackPath uses a cloud component in addition to standard live streaming CDN servers.
This platform collaborates with a number of other powerful carriers to give users the best results possible. StackPack currently delivers content to viewers in 35 markets across the globe.
StackPath has recently removed pricing information from their website.
Sucuri is another great live streaming CDN. This platform offers software for content delivery and security. Sucuri has advanced firewalls that keep your content out of the wrong hands.
This streaming CDN uses PoPs that are strategically placed around the world to deliver high-quality content both near and far.
Securi has four pricing plans with different scan frequencies. Content delivery is included with each plan. Here’s how they are laid out:
Broadcasters can also opt for custom plans. These plans come with unlimited customer support and can be used for multiple sites.
For most broadcasters, the online video platform (OVP) they choose integrates a live streaming CDN into its platform. Since this is the case, working directly with a CDN for live streaming generally doesn’t make sense, unless you’re a larger-scale enterprise.
We recommend doing some research to choose the right video host that offers a full-service solution. A single platform with a monthly fee, like Dacast, can handle many or all of your needs in-house. These might include video hosting, video distribution, CDN services, API access, video player, monetization, and much more. Since you’re depending on a single service to do all of these things, choosing the right video hosting platform goes a long way.
That said, let’s take a look at four OVPs with reliable live streaming CDN partnerships.
Our streaming solution includes various security features, offers 24/7 customer support, and an easy-to-use live streaming platform. All of this is available through every plan level. Dacast also uses an HTML5 video player to provide you with better performance, and which you can customize to your own needs.
Live streaming with Dacast comes at four levels. The video streaming pricing plans include:
Next, let’s take a look at Wowza Media Systems. Wowza is an online video platform that provides products and services widely used in the streaming video industry. This includes Wowza Streaming Cloud, their video hosting, and streaming platform. Streaming Cloud is the service we will be looking at here.
Stream Cloud includes support for both live and on-demand video. The service includes features such as full HD streaming, low latency live streaming solutions, and security access features. They also offer video API access and use Akamai’s network as well.
Wowza recently overhauled its pricing plans and added several options. These are split into 2 main tiers: Streaming Cloud and Streaming Engine.
All of these Live Event plans include full brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and HD and UHD streaming.
The Wowza Streaming Engine has its own pricing plans. These professional-grade streaming plans are billed annually and include:
Today, the IBM Cloud Video service offers a range of services, including video hosting and live streaming via “Streaming Manager.”
Key features of the IBM Video Streaming platform include custom branding on higher-priced plans, password protection, and an HTML5 video player. The service also includes HD broadcasting up to 720p resolution with a full 1080 supported only on Enterprise plans.
IBM pricing plans range from $99 to $999 per month and include the following:
Founded in 2004 by a group of filmmakers, Vimeo is the next service we’ll look at here. Vimeo acquired streaming platform Livestream in 2017, and today it provides live streaming and video hosting service.
Features of the Vimeo platform include a number of hardware and software integrations. The platform also offers an HTML5 video player, integrated chat, and no charge for bandwidth or storage.
Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:
For more details, check out our comprehensive guide to Vimeo Livestream pricing.
For most broadcasters, the online video platform (OVP) they choose integrates a live streaming CDN into its platform. As such, working directly with a CDN for content delivery generally doesn’t make sense, unless you’re a larger-scale enterprise.
Instead, we recommend doing some research to choose the right video host that offers a single-service solution. A single platform with a monthly fee, like Dacast, can handle many or all of your needs in-house. These might include video hosting, video distribution, CDN services, API access, video player, monetization, and much more. Since you’re depending on a single service to do all of these things, choosing the right video hosting platform goes a long way.
We recommend looking for a video hosting service that integrates a top-tier CDN. This will ensure maximum reliability and scalability for your online video distribution. Selecting the right online video platform is a big decision.
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way toward deciding which platform makes the most sense for you.
Online video delivery doesn’t have to be challenging and complex. Using a live streaming CDN can afford you peace of mind. It ensures that your content never encounters major speed bumps or service disruptions due to server overload.
We hope this article has helped you better understand live streaming CDNs, how they function, and who some of the top players in the industry are. Do you use a CDN?
If you are still looking for the right live streaming CDN yet, take advantage of Dacast’s free trial. Sign up today to enjoy free streaming and all our great features for 30 days. No credit card required.
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