Some people have the mistaken idea that “Livestream” is the only professional video streaming solution on the market. It’s probably all in the name. However, there are many Livestream alternatives. Not only that, but by many measures other streaming solutions are superior.
When it comes down to comparing price, features, and usability, Livestream rarely ends up on top.
In this article, we will look at DaCast and several other Livestream alternatives in detail. Specifically, we’ll compare different video live streaming solutions here, with the goal of helping you select the right video streaming platform for your use. But before that, we’ll dive into some history and background information about Livestream.
Livestream’s acquisition by Vimeo
In 2017, Livestream was acquired by Vimeo. Vimeo provides a video-on-demand platform for the creative market—mostly filmmakers, graphic designers, artists, and so on.
Immediately after the acquisition, Vimeo launched its own live streaming service called Vimeo Live. We’ve reviewed the Vimeo Live service in the past, finding that “For companies with greater live streaming needs, Vimeo Live would only be a viable solution if budget was not an issue, as it is one of the most expensive streaming solutions on the market.”
Livestream has continued operating as a separate entity owned by Vimeo. However, given the linkage between the two services, it’s important to mention Vimeo, and we’ll highlight it in our reviews below as well.
Livestream alternatives: finding the right professional video streaming solution
Let’s move on now and look at live stream alternatives for when you are looking for a professional video streaming solution. We’re going to look at four main Livestream competitors here: JW Player Live, Kaltura, Brightcove, and our own service, DaCast.
DaCast vs. Livestream and Vimeo Live vs. other platforms
The first comparison is between DaCast and Livestream. Let’s go through some of the material differences between these online video platforms and Livestream alternatives now.
Content Distribution Network
One of the challenges for any video platform is delivering video to viewers efficiently. Typically, this is managed via a content distribution network, or CDN. When done well, CDN delivery can minimize buffering and reduce video start-up times—essential factors in keeping viewers engaged.
DaCast uses the Akamai CDN for all video streams. Akamai is the largest CDN in the world, with a network of more than 240,000 servers located in 130+ countries globally. No CDN has more experience or a more robust network than Akamai, which ensures reliable delivery and minimizes problems for DaCast users.
Livestream mostly uses its own internal network of servers, which is much lighter than a professional CDN. This could explain why it’s reported that Livestream’s servers occasionally fail during live events.
Vimeo Live uses their own server network, which has caused complaints from some users.
JW Player Live
JW Player also works with the Akamai CDN for live streaming delivery.
Kaltura can be used with a variety of CDNs, depending on your choice. However, their live streaming is delivered via an internal network of streaming servers and CDN partners (not disclosed).
Brightcove uses mostly Akamai but can also plug in any CDN the customer wants to use.
DaCast is compatible with most any RTMP-capable encoder. This includes free software applications like OBS Studio, professional live broadcasting software like vMix, Wirecast, and VidBlasterX. It also includes many different hardware encoders, ranging from mobile camera-mounted units to studio-grade rack mount encoders.
In contrast, Livestream is not very flexible in regards to encoder choices. They offer their own proprietary live stream encoding software which is the only option that can be used for live broadcasting on a Premium plan. To use a third-party RTMP encoder, you need to purchase an Enterprise plan, starting at $999. As one customer states, “once you are inside of their ecosystem, it is really hard to leave.”
Vimeo Live encourages users to purchase Livestream-branded encoders, but allows you to use products of your choice.
Like DaCast, JW Player Live, Kaltura, and Brightcove also support a wide range of encoders.
Broadcasters should be aware that while Livestream advertises the ability to stream to Facebook, you can’t stream to the Livestream platform and to Facebook simultaneously. You have to choose one or the other. Vimeo Live is the same—you can only stream to either Vimeo Live or Facebook, not both at the same time.
OTT professional features
Some of the key features for professional live streaming include white label service, monetization support, 24/7 live streaming, API access, and the ability to broadcast multiple live channels at the same time.
DaCast includes full white label/custom branding at all plan levels, as well as an unlimited number of channels and 24/7 live streaming support. API access as well as monetization via pay-per-view, advertising, and subscriptions is built-in to the platform and is included on the DaCast’s Premium plan and above.
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Livestream and Vimeo Live
Vimeo Live doesn’t support continuous live streaming at all. Live events are limited to 12 hour duration. Monetization of VODs is included with Vimeo Premium, but only custom-priced plans support live stream monetization and API access. Livestream does offer continuous 24/7 live streaming, video API access, white label service, multiple simultaneous streams, and monetization tools, but only on custom Enterprise plans starting at $999 per month.
JW Player Live also lacks support for 24/7 live streaming (events are limited to 6 hour duration), but does support unlimited channels. Monetization support includes advertising, but not other methods (and only on custom-priced Enterprise plans). An API is offered as well.
Kaltura supports white label streaming, 24/7 broadcasting, and includes API access. It also offers support for multiple simultaneous streams and monetization support. However, its major downside is cost and complexity. All these features require custom-priced and custom-negotiated plans.
Brightcove also supports a range of professional features, but at a price. Support for 24/7 live streaming, advertising monetization, and other OTT tools are only supported with custom “Monetization” plans, which are custom priced well above $499/month.
DaCast includes 24/7 customer support for all users. Phone support is included for Premium and Enterprise plan users.
In contrast, Vimeo Live only offers email support with 1 hour response on weekdays, and chat support during U.S. business hours. Similarly, Livestream only includes basic email support with their Premium plan, and restricts phone supports to $999+ Enterprise plans.
JW Player Live includes email support for standard Business plans ($50/month), and Plus support (2 business hour response time) or VIP support (24/7 support) with custom Enterprise plans for an additional fee.
Kaltura support is built around a ticket-based online system, which allows you to self-report severity. Kaltura doesn’t publish information about response times.
Brightcove support comes at four levels. Basic silver support includes email support during business hours with a 2 hour response time for urgent issues. Gold support includes phone and live chat, and reduces urgent response time to 30 minutes. Platinum support reduces response time for urgent issues to 15 minutes. Purchasing a Gold or Platinum plan will add to the cost of your service.
As we’ve seen throughout this comparison, pricing for professional features varies significantly. Livestream alternatives, in most cases, appear to provide a much better alternative.
On the high end of the spectrum, Livestream and Brightcove start at $999/month and $499/month and up for basic professional features. Kaltura, Vimeo Live, and JW Player Live restrict pro functionality to custom-priced plans, which are hard to budget for.
On the other hand, DaCast meets and sometimes exceeds the functionality of Livestream and Livestream alternatives at a much more affordable price point.
There are a variety of great live streaming platforms on the market today. However, we recommend that you be careful when comparing price and features access between Livestream alternatives. A great way to make your final decision is to take advantage of the free trials offered by most of the video streaming solutions. You can start now with DaCast 30-days free trial:
We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know about your setup, challenges, and how it’s all working out, in the comment section below! We’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as we can, and we’ll incorporate relevant ideas and insights into future articles.
For regular tips on live streaming and exclusive offers, you can join the DaCast LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your broadcasts!