Do you remember the early days of Google Video and YouTube? More than a decade later, by 2019, so much has changed. For example, YouTube has long been a multi-billion dollar business. And today, the majority of people in the U.S. stream live video on their phones regularly. Relatedly, the streaming industry has experienced a proliferation of hosting services, including Dacast. To get you up to speed, this post offers an online video platform comparison of several key players.
First, we’ll take a look at the popular consumer-grade (B2C) video streaming solutions. These include, for example, YouTube and Facebook. We’ll also review key differences between consumer-grade and professional (B2B) online video platforms. Next, we’ll describe our methodology for this online video platform comparison. And finally, we’ll offer an online video platform comparison of six popular streaming services. These platforms include: IBM Cloud Video, Dacast, Vimeo, Kaltura, Brightcove, and JW Player.
Overall, our goal is to help you pick the right streaming host for your particular needs. Now, let’s start with a look at consumer-grade versus professional streaming solutions.
The rise of live streaming via consumer-grade platforms
The most popular platforms for video sharing and hosting today are consumer-focused platforms (B2C). For example, YouTube Live and Facebook Live are still considered heavy-hitters in this market.
As you likely know, billions of people around the world use these services. As a result, they make great platforms for B2C marketing and outreach. In particular, these B2C platforms can help you to reach massive audiences. Also, they are completely free to use, even for the biggest corporations.
In recent year, technology has evolved in this realm as well. For example, YouTube and Facebook now both offer live streaming services. However, these free platforms don’t offer many key features that most businesses and serious broadcasters require. Both also present significant limitations. In particular, many schools, businesses, and other settings block these social media platforms in the first place. If you want to reach particular audiences or expand your viewership, you don’t want to stream over the most-blocked sites in the world.
And that’s where professional live streaming solutions come into play.
The role of professional business-grade OVPs
Before delving into our online video platform comparison, let’s discuss the value of professional OVPs in general. First, businesses doing live streaming and video hosting require features that YouTube and Facebook can’t deliver. In fact, there are many differences between pro and consumer-grade platforms.
For example, professional video hosts offer advanced security features, enable complex monetization schemes via integrated paywalls, and include tools to ease integration with existing workflows. Those features, among many others, are equipped to meet the needs of B2B live streaming more effectively than B2C platforms. If you’re interested, you can review this 3rd party article for more specifics.
Dedicated professional platforms, including Dacast, also offer on-the-spot tech support. B2C platforms like YouTube don’t offer such support. This is a key feature for 24/7 live streaming. Relatedly, it’s a crucial feature for live streaming events that require real-time troubleshooting and a guaranteed positive experience for paying viewers. And the benefits of pro B2C platforms go on and on!
2019 Online Video Platform Comparison
With even a cursory internet search, it’s easy to find information about each of these platforms online. However, that information is often outdated. Given the importance of finding accurate OVP specs, here’s our updated online video platform comparison for 2019:
Online video platform comparison methodology
First, a note that the data in this online video platform comparison comes from a number of different sources. For example, these sources include platform websites, user reviews, and free trial accounts.
However, it’s difficult to keep up with every detail, as platforms change services, pricing plans, and features often. If you’re one of these companies or a consumer with a correction, please send us an email or leave us a comment below. We’ll fix the information, and we’ll appreciate your efforts!
IBM Cloud Video
Overview and company history
First up in our online video platform comparison is IBM Cloud Video (formally UStream). Founded in 2007 to connect military service members with family, IBM purchased UStream in 2016.
IBM Live Video is a live streaming company first and foremost. However, it also hosts VOD (Video On Demand) files recorded from previous live streams.
Basic streaming accounts are free, with advertising supporting IBM Cloud Video. Paid accounts remove advertising and grant access to advanced features. Enterprise accounts allow for full custom branding and offer analytics, multiple live channels, content syndication, and more.
IBM offers phone support for Pro and Enterprise users, and forum-based support for free users.
IBM Cloud Video provides both a customer-grade and an Enterprise streaming solution. This platform also offers a unique Enterprise Content Delivery Network.
Pro accounts range from $99 to $999 per month, but can only stream up to 720p resolution. This is satisfactory for some users, but not for all. Enterprise plans allow for full HD streaming, and those prices are based on custom contracts and are more costly.
Overview and company history
Next, let’s review our own streaming service, Dacast. With offices in Paris and San Francisco, Dacast is a competitive offering in a crowded marketplace. Our own video platform offering is a full-featured, self-service platform for both live streaming and VOD hosting. In 2018, Dacast earned the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small/Medium Business Video Platform. In 2019, Dacast acquired the vzaar platform, expanding its comprehensive OTT solution.
Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and VOD hosting services. Users can embed videos anywhere, while maintaining 100% control of their own content. Among other features, Dacast offers features an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.
Dacast distinguishes itself by offering high-end features with competitive live streaming pricing plans. These include ad-free broadcasting, white-label service on all plans, and Akamai CDN delivery. 24/7 phone support is also available for Premium and Enterprise plans.
Additionally, the Dacast platform stands out from other OVPs with its ease-of-use and accessibility. Even new broadcasters can provision a new live channel and start a new live stream in just a few minutes.
Monthly service with Dacast comes at three levels. The Starter plan is ideal for newcomers, at just $19 per month.
However, business users will likely want to use the popular Premium plan. This plan adds support for monetization, API access, and VOD chapter markers. It includes phone support and 2 TB of bandwidth for $125 per month. The Enterprise plan includes 5 TB for $289 per month. Additional bandwidth is available upon request for monthly plans. Read more here about Dacast live streaming pricing plans.
If you’d rather not sign a contract, you can purchase bandwidth separately via “event pricing” for one-time broadcasts. You can access this bandwidth for up to one year after purchase, making it an economical option for occasional event streamers.
Overview and company history
In 2017, Vimeo acquired the Livestream platform. Originally founded in 2007 as “Mogulus,” Livestream represented one of the largest live streaming companies in the world. Since the acquisition, the two platforms have merged their services. Today, the Vimeo platform powers some 10 million events per year and focuses on an integrated system of hardware, software, and cloud services.
Vimeo offers both streaming and video hosting services. This basic functionality includes analytics, a video management platform, privacy controls, and more. To access basic live streaming functionality, users must purchase a Premium plan.
Vimeo provides tech support via email for video hosting plans. For live support, users must purchase a Premium or Vimeo OTT custom plan.
Vimeo sets itself apart by offering a range of proprietary hardware and software for live streaming. These offerings integrate smoothly with their platform, minimizing the fuss of implementing a live streaming program from the hardware on up. It also offers unlimited events and viewers, which can be a helpful feature.
Service via Vimeo comes within two categories–video hosting and live streaming.
The Premium plan starts at $75/month (billed annually), and includes ad-free live streaming, integrated chat, and 7TB storage for streams and VOD. In addition, this plan includes support for streaming to Facebook Live or YouTube, embedding live streams, and phone-based customer support. However, this plan doesn’t include white-label service, monetization, or video APIs. These features are available only with custom-priced plans, for a price. High-volume and large-budget businesses likely need to choose this customized option.
Overview and company history
With a video management foundation in its open-source software, Kaltura offers a unique focus in the OVP market. Historically, this company has worked most extensively with educational institutions.
While the Kaltura software is free, it requires an infrastructure of servers for hosting and distribution. This platform represents an alternative to the self-hosted model (e.g., Dacast). That said, Kaltura offers cloud-based video hosting and distribution services for both VOD and live streams.
Kaltura shines when it comes to extensibility. The open source nature of their software means that a community of users create and share countless add-ons and integrations.
The downside of Kaltura’s extensibility, however, is that the platform can be confusing to use. With so many different features, it can be overwhelming for beginner users.
Kaltura doesn’t publish pricing information on their website. However, industry chatter posits that plans start at about $1000 per month and go up from there. For more details, you can read about this platform’s pay-for-what-you-use pricing model.
Overview and company history
Founded in 2004, Boston-based Brightcove is one of the oldest online video platforms in operation. Its product offerings focus on cloud encoding, live streaming, and video on-demand hosting. In 2019, Brightcove acquired streaming platform Ooyala, known for its cloud video technology. Since the acquistion, Brightcove has announced end-of-life plans for the Ooyala OVP.
Brightcove offers a number of modular products, including Video Cloud hosting, the Lift video player, Once for server-side ad insertion, Live for streaming video, OTT flow for internet TV, Zencoder for cloud transcoding, and tools for monetization.
The Brightcove service differentiates itself with their complex analytics and video marketing tools. These tools are ideal for capturing leads and understanding the audience, for example.
As a company mainly targeting major clients, Brightcove offers two plan levels. These include the $499/month (billed annually), along with custom-priced plans at a higher price-point. Interested broadcasters can contact their sales department to receive a quote or sign up for a 30-day free trial.
Overview and company history
First conceptualized in 2005 as part of a student project, JW Player began as a small piece of open-source code to play audio and video files. This code then became the basic video player for the fledgling YouTube, which used JW Player until Google acquired the platform. Originally, JW Player was best known for its HTML5 video player for VOD content. In recent years, the has expanded its video offerings beyond on-demand content to include live streaming.
JW Player is perhaps best known for its HTML5 JW video player for VOD content. This player supports MPEG-DASH playback, CSS skinning, DRM, and other advanced features. The company also now offers with JW Live, a full service a live streaming provider.
In terms of JW Live, the platform supports HLS adaptive live streaming, multi-bitrate transcoding, simulcast to FB Live, and real-time analytics. The service advertises itself as simple-to-use, with a four-step process for beginning a live stream. Overall, JW Live is designed for users with a large budget and/or a large business enterprise.
JW Player offers three tiers of pricing. Note that only Enterprise plans support live streaming, while lower-tier plans only support VOD. At $5 per month, the Starter plan includes 150 GB bandwidth and 50,000 video plays per month. Enterprise plans are available with custom pricing for high-volume storage and streaming. Finally, JW Player offers a 1-month free trial of the Developer Plan for front-end and back-end engineers.
As this online video platform comparison shows, the streaming service market is complicated and crowded. As such, it can be challenging to assess features and make a smart decision. And that can be true even after you do an online video platform comparison.
Whether you want to stream live video occasionally, do regular business-related broadcasts, or anything in between, we’re here to help! We hope this post has helped you narrow down your OVP options. And when comparing OVPs, we highly recommend taking advantage of free trials when possible.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, you can try out the Dacast online video platform free for 30-days (no credit card required). Just click the button below to sign up and start streaming live today!
In addition, we invite you to join our LinkedIn group for regular live streaming tips and exclusive offers.
Thanks for reading this online video platform comparison. Let us know your feedback and questions in the comment section below. We love to hear from our readers, and we will get back to you.
By Max Wilbert