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Live Streaming Pricing: How to Charge for Streaming of Live Events [2021 Update]

By Max Wilbert

27 Min Read

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Max Wilbert

Max Wilbert is a passionate writer, live streaming practitioner, and has strong expertise in the video streaming industry.

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      If you’re new to professional broadcasting, you’re likely wondering about live streaming pricing and how to charge for live online events.

      There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to calculating costs, but today, we’re going to focus on a key topic: the cost of live streaming an event.

      First, we’ll take a look at the factors that determine live streaming pricing in more detail. Next, we’ll discuss the necessary equipment to live stream events successfully. Finally, we’ll review the most common pricing options as well as how to charge for live streaming.

      Our goal is to help you understand pricing factors and live streaming cost calculators from the ground up. That way, you can choose the best streaming platform for your needs.

      This post has been updated to reflect the most accurate streaming pricing and statistics information as of June 2021.

      Table of Contents

      • What is a Professional Video Streaming Platform?
      • How to Charge for Live Streaming
      • Video Streaming Server Price Comparison
      • Additional Costs Associated with Live Streaming
      • Conclusion

      What is a Professional Video Streaming Platform?

      Video Streaming Platform
      A video streaming platform is essential to professional broadcasting.

      An online video host is streaming software that is designed to host video content. Some platforms host streams and others host on-demand video content. Many online video platforms host both.

      Professional-grade streaming platforms are typically loaded with the features you need to embed your video player in your own app or website. Security, monetization tools, white-label capabilities, APIs, and other features are popular streaming tools available on platforms of this sort.

      Paid video hosting tools have a leg up on free ones like YouTube for several reasons.

      Free platforms come with distracting ads and heavily monetize all video content for their benefit, not yours. For example, your content can appear next to or alongside ads from competitors. 

      As we mentioned, professional video hosts typically offer monetization options, so you can use advertisements if you want to, but it’s not required.

      Another major setback is that free platforms like YouTube are the most heavily blocked websites in the world. Many businesses, schools, universities, and other institutions completely block access to these sites which really cuts you off from a large group of potential viewers.

      Embedding a white-label video player on your own website allows you to go around these restrictions.

      For these reasons, among others, we recommend using professional-grade streaming platforms.

      How to Charge for Live Streaming

      How to Charge for Live Streaming
      There are two district pricing structures for charging users for live streaming.

      Before we get into the specific live streaming costs associated with some of the top online video hosts, we’re going to review some of the typical pricing structures that these sites use, including both subscription and pay-as-you-go models.

      Subscriptions

      One of the benefits of live streaming platforms is the ability to price streams via a recurring subscription model. This model costs a flat rate on a monthly or annual basis for access to the streaming service. 

      This cost varies widely from platform to platform and even from package to package on any given platform. Sometimes, you can save money by paying up-front for the entire year, rather than on a month-to-month basis.

      All streaming plans include an allotment of bandwidth and storage. For many streaming platforms, if you need to use additional bandwidth, you have the option to pay a fee to increase your bandwidth. The cost per GB typically decreases as volume increases.

      Pay-As-You-Go

      The second live streaming pricing model is pay-as-you-go. This model is not available on most streaming platforms.

      However, this option is ideal for the occasional streamer. A yearly event is a good candidate for this pricing model. For a yearly or one-time event, you can purchase access to live streaming services without committing to a monthly bill.

      Dacast offers broadcasters the ability to buy bulk streaming data at competitive prices. You can access your bandwidth for 12 months after purchase, and per GB pricing goes down as volume goes up. 

      To learn more about how much bandwidth you might need for a given event, click on the “bandwidth calculator” on Dacast’s pricing page.

      Additional Professional Services

      Many streaming services offer professional services to help broadcasters who need extra support. Of course, this comes at an extra charge.

      For example, Dacast offers a range of professional services to help you get started with live streaming.

      Developing is one specific service that many broadcasters find useful. If you don’t have the in-house resources to build a customized website or build an API-based online platform, this can be a valuable resource. 

      Video Streaming Server Price Comparison

      As we mentioned, live streaming server solutions run at different price points. This has a lot to do with the features and capabilities of the platforms themselves.

      Not every broadcaster needs every tool which is why there are so many options available.

      In this comparison, we’re going to cover the plans available on Dacast, Vimeo, Wistia, and IBM Cloud Video. Each of these platforms offers three to four standard plans in addition to custom plans or trial plans.

      Let’s take a look at the prices of these top competitors in the professional video hosting space.

      1. Dacast

      live streaming event video platform
      Dacast’s video streaming platform has four different plans for broadcasters.

      Dacast is a unified streaming platform that is built for both live streaming and on-demand video hosting. Both of these functions are available with all packages.

      The difference between Dacast packages has largely to do with the amount of bandwidth and storage that comes with each.

      Starter Plan

      The Starter plan costs $39/month and comes with 1,000 GB of bandwidth per month (1.2 TB / year) and 50 GB of storage. The plan is ideal for affordable streaming to small groups.

      This plan includes all of Dacast’s basic features, including live streaming, on-demand video hosting, 24/7 customer support, unlimited concurrent viewers, full 1080p HD broadcasting,  mobile device support, secure video delivery, content scheduling, player customization, and more.

      Dacast’s Starter plan is best suited for businesses and organizations that are just getting into broadcasting.

      Please check out our complete list of plan features to learn what the Developer plan has to offer.

      Event Plan

      The Event plan goes for $63/month and comes with 6 TB of bandwidth upfront and 50 GB of storage. This plan is best suited for broadcasters who want to host one-time or occasional live events.

      The Event plan includes all of the features included in the Starter plan and adds advanced & real-time analytics, M3U8 links, live countdown, a monetization paywall, and live & VOD playlists.

      Scale Plan

      As its name suggests, the Scale plan is built for businesses and organizations who are ready to take things to the next level. This plan costs $188/month when billed annually and includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year and 1 TB of storage. 

      This plan comes with all of the features of the Developer and Event plans, plus phone support, unlimited live channels, VOD chapter markers, advanced library management, and China video delivery.

      Recently added features include:

      Custom

      If your needs exceed the resources available with the other three plans, Dacast is willing and able to provide you with a unique pricing package for high-volume plans of any size. Please contact us for custom pricing.

      2. Livestream

      Livestream live Streaming Solution
      Vimeo Livestream is a streaming server solution that offers live broadcasting and video hosting services.

      Vimeo offers several streaming plans for consumer-grade use, but their professional-grade plans with live streaming capabilities are sold through Livestream, a platform that they acquired a few years back 

      Under Livestream, Vimeo offers three main pricing plans. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of what each offers.

      Vimeo Premium

      Their Premium plan includes both live streaming and VOD support. This plan is their best option for professional broadcasting, as it includes privacy and security features, powerful analytics, a white-label video player, and more.

      This plan runs at $75/month.

      Vimeo Enterprise

      The Enterprise plan includes everything that the Premium plan includes, plus a larger storage capacity, live stream recording, eCDN, video API access, multiple simultaneous streams, and Q&A moderation.

      Enterprise plans are custom priced.

      Vimeo OTT

      The Vimeo OTT-specific pricing package comes with the Vimeo.com relationship. These plans include all the basics for starting your web-based OTT channel, as well as growing your OTT business online.

      There are two OTT plans:

      • Starter Pricing: $1/subscriber per month
      • Growth Pricing: starting at $500/month

      3. Vimeo

      vimeo online video platform
      Vimeo has transitioned out of the B2C space and has become a tool for professional broadcasters.

      Although Vimeo started as a consumer-grade service, similar to YouTube, it has evolved into a platform that is capable of fulfilling the needs of professional broadcasters.

      Vimeo offers five different pricing plans.

      Basic

      Vimeo’s basic plan is absolutely free to use forever, but, as one would expect, it comes with limitations. This plan is aimed at individuals and organizations who want to use the Vimeo platform as long as they are willing to follow their community guidelines and log in once in a while.

      The plan doesn’t come with privacy features, customization capabilities, live streaming, or advanced analytics, which makes it best suited for independent content creators rather than professional broadcasters. For these reasons, it provides the same experience as a social media platform such as YouTube does.

      Basic plan users get 500MB per week of upload space, up to 5GB total account storage, basic video embedding features, video analytics, and the ability to download converted video files. Plan holders are limited to uploading up to 10 videos per day, create 1 channel, 1 group, and 3 showcases, and the ability to publish videos natively to social and eCommerce accounts.

      Plus

      Vimeo’s Plus plan costs $7/month and comes with 5 GB of bandwidth per week, 250 GB storage every year, and allocates for a single user. The only professional functions available at this level are player customization, privacy controls, and social distribution.

      Pro

      The next tier up on Vimeo is the Pro plan. This plan costs $20/month and comes with 20 GB of bandwidth per week, 1 TB storage every year, and 3 team member seats.

      This plan unlocks tools to create and publish unlimited videos, custom video templates, review and approval, private team collaboration projects for up to 3 team members, customizable showcase sites, and streaming on your own site. It also has unlimited stock photos, videos, and licensed music tools.

      Business

      The Business plan costs $50/month, and comes with 5 TB total storage, 10 team member seats, with no weekly bandwidth limitations.

      In addition to greater customization capabilities such as custom branding, this plan has sales and marketing-specific tools like CTAs, lead generation, and showcase SEO. It also allows you to connect with Google Analytics.

      Premium

      For $75/month, the Premium plan and comes with 7 TB total storage, and claims unlimited live streaming on Vimeo. However, the plan limits to 10 team member seats and includes all of the features included in previous plans plus some tools that are specifically used for live event streaming such as unlimited live events, streaming to multiple destinations, live Q&A, graphics, and polls, as well as audience chat. 

      4. Wistia

      Wistia Video Hosting Software
      Wistia uses a combination of subscription and pay-as-you-go price.

      Wistia is another major player in the video hosting space, and they offer one free plan and two paid pricing plans.

      Free

      Wistia’s Free plan is for beginner broadcasters who are still getting their feet wet. Since it is free, it comes with standard features but also strict limitations.

      Users with the Free plan can only host 3 videos or podcasts to embed anywhere, 1 channel to share via public Wistia link, and caps channel subscribers 250. Free users also do not have the ability to remove Wistia’s branding from their videos.

      Pro

      The Pro plan from Wistia costs $99/month and allows users to embed 10 videos or podcasts anywhere they’d like. Pro also comes with 1 channel to share via public Wistia link, and caps channel subscribers 250 (with email notifications), but allows for your own branding on the video player. This plan also gives users the option to add additional videos or audio files for $.25/month.

      Advanced

      Wistia’s Advanced plans are all custom priced and they unlock 100 videos, premium integrations, advanced support, and Facebook and Google integrations.

      5. IBM Cloud Video

      ibm cloud video online video platform
      IBM Cloud Video is a streaming solution from IBM, which is a huge tech company.

      IBM Cloud Video software offers three distinct pricing plans in addition to a custom pricing plan. The plans offer access to the same features, but the amount of storage, the number of channels, and viewer limits are what set each plan apart.

      Silver

      IBM Cloud Video’s Silver plan starts at $99/month. Besides the free trial, this is the most basic plan they have to offer.

      This plan includes 100 viewer hours, 5 channels, 1 TB of video storage, HD transcoding (up to 720p), video embed control, channel password protection, channel customization, live polling, CTAs, and phone support.

      Gold

      The Gold plan is a step up from the Silver plan and includes all the same features. However, it starts at $499/month and bumps viewer hours to 2,000, 10 channels, and 2 TB of video storage.

      Platinum

      As the Gold plan, the Platinum plan is the most inclusive plan and includes all features as Silver and Gold. It costs $999/month and includes 5,000 viewer hours, 20 channels, and 5 TB of video storage.

      Custom

      If your needs exceed what’s provided with the three standard plans, IBM Cloud Video is able to create custom plans with the features and tools that fit your needs.

      6. Kaltura 

      kaltura business video hosting
      Kaltura is a cloud video streaming solution geared towards large institutions.

      Kaltura offers customized plans for Learning & Development, Communication & Collaboration, and Marketing & Sales. These plans are built around each company or organization’s streaming needs. Kaltura does not provide information on pricing for these plans beyond credit allotments

      These custom plans offer a pay-as-you-go streaming structure and set credit allotments to redeem or bandwidth and feature integrations. Pay-as-you-go packages are billed monthly and larger plans are billed annually. Credits can be purchased in $6000 increments and are discounted when you spend a larger amount.

      The credit packages are structured as follows:

      • 10% discount on $6000 in credits, making the annual payment $5400
      • 12% discount on $12,000 in credits, making the annual payment $10,650
      • 20% discount on $24,000 in credits, making the annual payment $19,200
      • 25% discount on $60,000 in credits, making the annual payment $45,000
      • 30% discount on $90,000 in credits, making the annual payment $63,000
      • 35% discount on $120,000 in credits, making the annual payment $78,000

      For annual credit allotments of $150,000 or more, broadcasters can contact the Kaltura sales team for custom plans.

      Setup costs are built into each unique pricing plan. Kaltura also offers a free trial, so you can try the platform before you make the hefty investment.

      7. Brightcove 

      Video Hosting Cloud Software
      Brightcove offers plans for Marketing, Enterprise Comms, and Monetization. 

      No pricing information is listed on the Brightcove pricing page, so broadcasters should contact the Brightcove sales team directly for this information. 

      However, they have posted quite a bit of information about how their streaming packages are structured. Let’s take a look.

      Enterprise Comms and Marketing

      Enterprise Comms and Marketing plans come in the following tiers:

      • Starter:
        • 50 or 200 videos
        • Up to 100,000 plays with no overages
        • 2 or 5 users
        • 1 video portal
        • 3 social destinations
      • Enterprise:
        • Unlimited videos
        • 100,000+ plays with no overages
        • 10+ users
        • Unlimited video portal
        • 12+ social destinations

      Marketing also offers a Professional plan that offers the following:

      • Unlimited videos
      • 100,000+ plays with no overages
      • 10+ users
      • Unlimited video portal
      • 6+ social destinations

      There are some feature limitations on the starter and professional plans.

      Monetization

      Monetization plans are entirely customized.

      8. JW Player

      JWplayer video streaming platform
      JW Player’s live streaming platform is a sophisticated set of tools with a video player that is open source.

      JW Player has three pricing plans: Trial, Starter, and Enterprise.

      Trial

      Trial plans have access to all of JW Player’s powerful features for 30 days. Trial broadcasters are allotted 25 GB for hosting and 75 GB for streaming so they can get a look at how the platform works in action.

      Starter

      Starter plans start at $10/month, and they come with 150 GB for hosting and 500 GB for streaming.

      Starter plans come with very limited feature offerings. This plan is only equipped with basic streaming features and does not include monetization support, video analytics, simulcasting to social media, live event streaming support

      Enterprise

      Enterprise plans are totally customizable in terms of both pricing and advanced feature access. Contact JW Player for more information.

      9. Vidyard

      professional video hosting vidyard platform
      Vidyard is a marketing-focused VOD hosting platform.

      Vidyard splits its streaming pricing into options for Individuals and Teams.

      Individuals

      • Free – $0/month
        • Unlimited video uploads, hosting, and creation
        • 1 user
        • Video recording up to 1 hour
        • 5 video embeds
        • Minimal feature access
      • Pro – $15/month
        • Unlimited video creation
        • 1 user
        • Video recording up to 1 hour
        • 20 video embeds
        • Fair feature access

      Teams

      • Teams – $300/month
        • Unlimited video uploads, hosting, and  creation
        • 3+ users
        • Video recording up to 1 hour
        • 50 video embeds
        • Great features access
      • Business – $1200/month
        • Unlimited video uploads, hosting, and  creation
        • 5+ users
        • Video recording up to 1 hour
        • 100 video embeds
        • Full access to advanced features

      10. Wowza

      Wowza Streaming Cloud
      Wowza’s cloud streaming platform features a live streaming engine for business-critical applications.

      Wowza offers two streaming products: the Wowza Streaming Cloud and Wowza Streaming Engine. Each of these products is broken down into different plans. Let’s check them out.

      Wowza Streaming Cloud

      Wowza Streaming Cloud is a service that comes in the following plans:

      • One Time – $149
        • One month of streaming
        • Meant for one-time events
        • 15 live streaming hours
        • 500 viewing hours (in 720p)
      • Pay-as-You-Go – $25/month
        • Flexible pricing model 
      • Basic – $85/month
        • 180 live streaming hours
        • 6000 viewing hours (in 720p)
      • Plus – $425/month
        • 1200 live streaming hours
        • 60,000 viewing hours (in 720p)
      • Enterprise – custom pricing
        • Enterprise plans are built to meet your streaming needs

      All of these plans (other than One Time) are billed annually and have full brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and HD and UHD streaming.

      We urge you to check out the bandwidth calculator from Wowza to see which plan suits your streaming needs.

      Wowza Streaming Engine 

      Wowza Streaming Engine is a software solution and it comes in the following plans: 

      • Basic – $125/month 
        • $145/month for each additional instance and $125/month for each additional prepaid instance
        • 48 hour support response time
      • Business – $245/month 
        • $155/month for each additional instance and $95/month for each additional prepaid instance
        • 8 hour support response time
      • Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high volume enterprise solutions
        • Features offerings are custom on this plan
        • Includes  24/7 support

      Additional Costs Associated with Live Streaming

      live recording equipment costs
      Knowing the charge for live streaming solutions can help you choose the best video host.

      The cost of live streaming goes beyond your investment in a video streaming solution. You’ll need to invest in some live streaming equipment. Three essential pieces of equipment include cameras, audio capturing devices, and an encoder.

      Let’s take a quick look at these three additional investments.

      1. Cameras

      Your camera can make or break the quality of your broadcast. Smartphone video cameras are quite capable these days, but businesses and pro broadcasters will likely opt to invest in a dedicated professional-grade camera.

      To determine which camera you’ll need, a number of factors come into play. These include:

      • Resolution and bitrate
      • Outputs (HDMI, SDI, pro-audio)
      • Compatibility with an encoding software or hardware
      • Budget/Price

      If you plan to live stream a one-time event, you may want to consider hiring a video production company. This type of company can provide all the necessary cameras and audio equipment. This means that you can avoid investing in expensive equipment you don’t need long-term.

      However, if you plan to broadcast regularly, your best bet is to invest in a trusty camera. Live streaming cameras can cost up to $5,000+ for a TV broadcast-quality camera, but you can purchase a solid mid-range camera with excellent video quality for roughly $2,000.

      To make a decision about cameras, you may want to consult professional video technicians at a shop like B&H Photo Video where they can match you with the best equipment for your needs.

      2. Audio Equipment

      For basic live streams, a video camera with a built-in mic may suffice. However, for most professional use-cases you’ll want better audio equipment. This can include lav (or “lapel”) microphones, directional “shotgun” microphones, or omnidirectional mics.

      You’ll also need cabling. If you have many different audio sources, mixing requires specialized equipment. Consult an audio engineer for complex situations. Otherwise, online tutorials are generally sufficient for getting started.

      Audio equipment costs range from free (integrated into the camera) to $5,000+ for a complex setup. For under $500, you can buy a small setup with high-quality microphones.

      3. Encoder

      A video encoder is a piece of hardware or software that transcodes a video into a format suitable for streaming. The encoder then sends this video to the live streaming service to stream it to viewers. No matter which encoding option you chose, you want to ensure secure video upload for your streaming content.

      Live streaming encoding software ranges in price from free to around $1200. We recommend looking at our comparison of streaming software encoders for more details. 

      A software encoder also requires a computer to run. If you’re streaming a complex, demanding multi-camera stream with animations and other extras, you’ll likely need a powerful computer with top-of-the-line hardware.

      Hardware encoders are dedicated pieces of live streaming equipment. They’re most often used in two scenarios. The first is for mobile live streaming when a battery-powered hardware encoder is perfect. The second is in studio settings to power mission-critical streaming.

      There are free software encoders such as OBS Studio that can run on mid-range computers, but high-end hardware encoders range from around $200 to $2500+.

      Conclusion

      There are several costs involved with professional broadcasting, but at this stage, you should have a good idea of the average streaming server price. Dacast, Wistia, IBM Cloud Video, and Vimeo are all great solutions for video hosting, but you should choose the one that gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of the specific features you need.

      Since different broadcasters have different goals, it is great to have all of these options available.

      Have you narrowed down your list of potential live streaming services, but you’re still not sure what to do next? We recommend taking advantage of available free trials to test out the platforms for yourself.

      Why not start today with Dacast’s 30-day free trial (no credit card required)? Just click the link below to start streaming today!

      GET STARTED FOR FREE

      Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about live streaming pricing? 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 good luck with your live broadcasts!

      author avatar

      Max Wilbert

      Max Wilbert is a passionate writer, live streaming practitioner, and has strong expertise in the video streaming industry.

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