Streaming Server Hosting Guide for Live Video Streams and VOD

By Max Wilbert

24 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.

    Whether you’re an individual, business, or other organization, hosting online video content is a demanding process. Simply put, videos are resource hogs. Files are large and bandwidth requirements are bigger. If a video gets too popular, it can grind performance to a halt. 

    Hosting and delivering your video with a professional streaming server on a dedicated platform can help you overcome these difficulties. The best live streaming platforms provide powerful tools to manage, upload, and share your online video. 

    Better yet, they combine this functionality with the power and technical capacity to get your content where it needs to go and scale to any size audience. Without professional streaming hosting, content delivery and scalability can present significant technical challenges.

    We understand how overwhelming it can be to choose the best streaming server hosting service since there are so many great options on the market. In this post, we are going to make this process a little easier for you by giving you the information you need to choose a streaming solution.

    In this article, we will talk about what streaming server hosting is and what to look for in a streaming hosting service. From there, we compare six of the top streaming server hosting services. As a bonus, we’ll review Akamai, a freestanding streaming server.

    Table of Contents

    • What is Streaming Server Hosting?
      • What is the Purpose of Streaming Server Hosting?
      • Who Uses Streaming Server Hosting?
    • What to Look for in Streaming Server Hosting Services
    • The 6 Best Streaming Server Hosting Providers
    • Bonus: Akamai for Self-Hosting
    • How to Choose the Best Streaming Server Hosting Service
    • Conclusion

    What is Streaming Server Hosting?

    What is Streaming Server Hosting
    Streaming server hosting provides video content on the web to users via any internet-connected device.

    Streaming server hosting is the technology that broadcasters use to host and deliver their online streams.

    Let’s start by defining a couple of terms.  A “server” is a computer designed to deliver content over the internet. In fact, every website that you visit is delivered by a server.  Which “serves” the website to your computer, phone, or other devices

    Streaming, however, refers to playing video or audio online.  Hosting refers to renting server usage from a company that specializes in storing and delivering online content.

    Together, video streaming server hosting is a software as a service  (SaaS) that allows users to upload, host, organize, and deliver live and video on demand (VOD) content over the internet.

    Thanks to professional video platforms with built-in servers, this is all possible without having to buy and configure a video hosting server of your own.  Instead, everything you need is already in one place. 

    Any of the options we explain in detail below bring together all the tools needed for hosting video online, whether you want to live stream, offer VOD content, or a mix of both. Using a professional platform, you don’t have to build your own live video streaming dedicated server. 

    What is the Purpose of Streaming Server Hosting?

    The purpose of using streaming server hosting is to simplify your streaming experience.

    Video hosting solutions on a SaaS platform that have a built-in video streaming server make storing, managing, and delivering your video content easy. The top streaming platforms offer user-friendly, customizable experiences. 

    Additionally, using a platform with streaming server hosting generally gives broadcasters access to powerful content delivery networks (CDNs). For example, Dacast gives users access to top-tier CDNs like Akamai and Limelight.

    Accessing these CDNs can be difficult and expensive without using a streaming solution.

    Who Uses Streaming Server Hosting?

    Streaming server hosting is meant for broadcasting at the professional level. This could include businesses, schools, and organizations that use online video content for sales, marketing, or day-to-day operations. 

    Some other examples of organizations that would use streaming server hosting include businesses that specialize in media distribution, like television networks, radio stations, and OTT streaming platforms.

    Independent content creators, “YouTubers,” and “vloggers” can typically get by with the B2C alternatives, like Twitch, YouTube, and Dailymotion because they don’t need the same professional-level tools and customizations that a streaming server hosting service offers. 

    What to Look for in Streaming Server Hosting Services

    When it comes to choosing the streaming server hosting service that makes the most sense for your business, you’ll want to make sure the video streaming platform includes access to the features you need to reach your broadcasting goals.

    Here are a few of the most valuable features for professional broadcasting:

    It’s easy to fall for the service with the most features, but what really matters is that your chosen platform has the specific features your need at the price point that works for you.

    The 6 Best Streaming Server Hosting Providers

    Now that we have a clear definition of VOD server stream hosting and what sort of features to look for, let’s examine some of the best streaming server hosting providers available for broadcasters today.

    1. Dacast

    video streaming server
    Dacast is an end-to-end online video platform founded in 2008 that allows businesses to broadcast and host video content.

    Dacast is a streaming server hosting platform that supports VOD hosting and live streaming. This unified streaming solution offers advanced broadcasting tools such as video monetization, robust security options, and native in-China video delivery

    Our platform includes various tools for marketing, including analytics tracking, and calls-to-action. 

    Basic Functionality:

    Dacast’s live streaming solutions include support for 24/7 linear streaming, video monetization for live streaming, live video analytics, and more. API management tools and a simple management dashboard provide multiple options for launching multiple channels and embedding live streams on your website.

    Key Features:

    Pros:

    Cons:

    • Requires a bit of a learning curve

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimension: none (but 240p is the recommended minimum)
    • Maximum dimension: 1080p or 4K (depends on the user’s hardware and internet)
    • Aspect ratio: no restrictions (but 16:9 is the default)
    • Max file size: none
    • Max video length: none
    • Total file storage: 10-1000GB (depends on plan)
    • Compatible video formats: MP4 (preferred), MOV, M4V, M2V, AVI, MPG, FLV, WMV, MKV, WEBM, OGV, MXF, ASF, VOB, MT

    Pricing:

    Dacast offers a variety of pricing plans for broadcasters with different budgets, including:

    • Starter Plan: $39/month (includes 1.2 TB of bandwidth & 50 GB of storage)
    • Event Plan: $63/month (includes 6 TB of bandwidth upfront and 50 GB of storage)
    • Scale Plan: $188/month (includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year and 1 TB of storage)
    • Custom plan: Contact us for custom pricing plans

    Please check out our bandwidth calculator to find the right plan for you.

    2. Wistia

    wistia streaming video hosting
    Wistia is a video software company founded in 2006 that provides video-hosting services for businesses.

    Wistia is a video streaming server hosting platform that is focused on VOD for marketing. This professional streaming solution supports a customizable white label.

    Professional plans for Wistia start at $99 per month. There are some limitations on videos that can be embedded with the plan. Each additional upload is 25¢ per month.

    Basic Functionality:

    Wistia’s services focus heavily on video marketing, as well as including A/B testing and email notifications to channel subscribers. 

    Key Features:

    • Video CRM
    • Custom video player
    • Viewing without ads
    • Organization features
    • “Up Next” feature
    • Marketing tools
    • Powerful analytics
    • SEO tools

    Pros:

    • Ad-free streaming
    • Great customer support
    • Some customization with branding 
    • Reports and analytics
    • Marketing features
    • Video SEO tools

    Cons:

    • Limitations on customization

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimensions: None
    • Maximum dimensions: Maximum of 4K (3840 x 2160)
    • Supported aspect ratios: Any
    • Maximum file size: 8 GB
    • Maximum video length: 2 hours
    • Total file storage: Up to 10 videos with the pro plan ($99 per month), $0.25 per month for every extra video
    • Accepted video formats: MP4 (recommended format), .MOV, .AVI, .WMV, .FLV, .MKV, 3GPP

    Pricing:

    Wistia has a couple of different pricing plans for streaming server hosting. These include:

    • Basic plan: Free
    • Pro plan: $99/month
    • Advanced: Custom-priced

    Please contact Wistia directly for pricing information on custom-priced Advanced plans.

    3. Wowza

    Wowza Streaming Engine
    Wowza Streaming Cloud is a great choice for live streaming server hosting.

    Wowza Streaming Cloud is feature-rich and provides a customizable video streaming server engine for broadcasters of all sorts. It was founded in 2005 by David Stubenvoll and Charlie Good. Wowza is a bootstrap start-up, with live and on-demand live streaming capabilities.

    Wowza offers two main products: Wowza Streaming Engine and Wowza Streaming Cloud.

    Wowza Streaming Engine is a stand-alone streaming server. This product is widely used in the industry for self-hosted streaming.

    The second is the Wowza Streaming Cloud offering. This streaming solution includes a variety of features aimed at providing low-latency video content access to global audiences.

    Basic Functionality:

    Wowza Streaming Engine is a video server for self-hosted streaming, whereas Wowza Streaming Cloud is a full-service streaming solution.

    Key Features:

    • Built-in streaming server
    • Low latency streaming
    • Ingest streams from any encoder
    • Create live, linear, or on-demand streaming applications
    • Stream live events, video conferencing, audio streaming, 24/7 streaming, and more
    • Host-you-own streaming server product
    • Mobile-compatible video player
    • RESTful API available

    Pros:

    • Customer support (*note that phone support and fast responses cost extra)
    • Extensive Flexible and Modular Architecture
    • Management, Monitoring, and Integrations
    • Multi-Level Content Security
    • Performance Monitoring
    • Mobile Screen Support
    • Robust security
    • Video Streaming
    • Video Looping
    • China video delivery

    Cons:

    • No Multistreaming
    • No Session Recording
    • No Event Scheduling
    • No Video Monetization Tools
    • No Multiple Camera Feeds

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimension: 240p (320 x 240)
    • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840 x 2160)
    • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
    • Max file size: Not available
    • Max video length: Not available
    • Total file storage: 250 GB (depends on the plan)
    • Accepted video formats: MP4, FLV, MP3, SMIL, AMLST, ID3, NGRP

    Pricing:

    Both Wowza Streaming Cloud and Wowza Streaming Engine have their own pricing plans.

    Wowza Streaming Cloud offers three distinct pricing plans and services. Within Live Event Pricing, monthly plans include:

    • Pay as you go: $29/month; three month minimum with additional fees for usage
    • Basic: $99/month and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p
    • One Month Event: $149 one-time purchase and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours also at 720p
    • Plus: $499/month and includes 150 hours of live streaming and 7,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p

    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 plan packages. These professional-grade streaming plans are billed annually and include:

    • Basic: $175/month + $195/month for each additional instance 
    • One Month Event: $295/month + $295/month for each additional instance
    • Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high volume enterprise solutions

    4. Vidyard

    Vidyard video hosting platform
    Vidyard is a video hosting company founded in 2010 that creates software aimed at sales and marketing teams.

    Next, let’s take a look at Vidyard, a marketing-focused streaming solution. This is another streaming server hosting platform that supports both live hosting and VOD hosting

    In addition to marketing, Brightcove is also a good tool to use in sales and corporate communications. The platform supports features such as A/B testing for thumbnails, custom calls-to-action, and white-label service. Other key features include video analytics, video sharing, and video optimization.

    Basic Functionality:

    Vidyard is a great streaming tool for marketing and communication. It focuses on reaching your target audience and generating leads.

    Key Features:

    • Built-in marketing tools (SEO, emails, personalization, analytics)
    • Interactive viewing 
    • Lead capture
    • Video organization and channels
    • High-grade security

    Pros:

    • Insightful analytics
    • Great technical support
    • Fully loaded with professional broadcasting features
    • Large user community

    Cons:

    • Complex backend editing portal
    • Mixed user reviews

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimension:  360p (480 x 360)
    • Maximum dimension:  4k (3840 x 2160)
    • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
    • Max file size:5GB to 16GB (depends on the plan)
    • Max video length: 1 hour (live stream)
    • Total file storage: Not available
    • Compatible video formats: WEBM, MP4, MKV, MOV

    Pricing:

    Vidyard has pricing plans for both individuals and teams. These plans include:

    • Free Forever: Free
    • Pro Package: $15/month
    • Teams Package: $300/month
    • Business Package: $1250/month

    Vidyard also offers custom-priced Enterprise plans for broadcasters with advanced streaming needs.

    5. Brightcove

    Brightcove Cloud Video Hosting Platform
    Brightcove is an online video hosting platform with a streaming server solution.

    Brightcove is a major online video company focused on the Enterprise market. In particular, this streaming hosting service focuses on three market segments: video monetization, marketing, and enterprise communications.

    It’s a fully-loaded platform, with live hosting and VOD server support, monetization tools, and analytics. Brightcove’s pricing information is not published online, but past users have shared that plans start around $500/month. This high price point makes Brightcove a provider on the higher end of live streaming pricing.

    Basic Functionality:

    Brightcove offers a platform with cloud video streaming server solutions for three primary uses: marketing, communications, and monetization.

    Key Features:

    • Global content delivery
    • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
    • Basic tech support
    • Limited API access
    • Limited security features
    • OTT streaming
    • Cloud transcoding
    • Best for clients with large budgets 

    Pros:

    • Insightful reports and analytics
    • Individualized video portals
    • Powerful CRM integrations

    Cons:

    • Reportedly high price points
    • Limited monetization features
    • Live streaming is a secondary solution
    • Limited privacy and security features

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimension: Determined by user
    • Maximum dimension: Determined by user 
    • Aspect ratio: No restrictions (since Brightcove uses a responsive player)
    • Max file size: No limits on files size
    • Max video length: No published limits
    • Total file storage: Varies by plan
    • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, MKV, 3GPP

    Pricing:

    Brightcove does not publish pricing information on its website, but it does provide a breakdown of three pricing plans. These include:

    • Starter: includes 50 to 200 videos, up to 100,000 plays, and 2-5 users
    • Professional: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with +10 users
    • Enterprise: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with 10+ users, unlimited upload, and analytics-only users

    Brightcove also offers custom-priced plans for their Enterprise Video Suite packages. Interested broadcasters can contact their sales department directly for a quote or free trial.

    6. IBM Cloud Video

    IBM Online video platform
    IBM cloud video is a live video streaming company founded in 2007.

    Another one of the top streaming hosting services in the online video market is IBM Cloud Video. IBM Cloud video is a large video platform that supports live and on-demand video streaming within a wide range of use cases. 

    Some of the most notable features of this streaming server hosting provider include video embedding, tech support, video customization, password protection, and a range of engagement tools.

    Basic Functionality:

    The basic functionality of IBM is live streaming. However, this live streaming solution also hosts video on-demand files from previous live streams.

    Key Features:

    • Powerful analytics
    • Viewer engagement tools
    • Auto-archiving
    • Reliable CDN
    • Tools for monetization

    Pros:

    • Tools for enterprise streaming
    • Reliable customer support
    • Hong Kong video delivery

    Cons:

    • HD streaming comes with an added fee
    • Minimal closed captioning support

    Upload Guidelines and Specs:

    • Minimum dimension: 480p (480 x 270)
    • Maximum dimension:  4K (3840 x 2160)
    • Aspect ratio: No published aspect ratio
    • Max file size: 4 GB
    • Max video length: No published limits
    • Total file storage: 1TB – 5TB (depends on plan)
    • Compatible video formats: MKV, MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, MPEG2, H264, H263, MPEG4, VP6, VP8, THEORA, WMV, MP3, AAC-LC, NELLYMOSER, PCM, SPEEX, VORBIS, WMA

    Pricing:

    IBM Cloud Video’s plans range from $99 to $999/month and include:

    • Silver – $99/month
    • Gold – $499/month
    • Platinum – $999/month
    • Custom Please contact IBM Cloud video for custom plan pricing.

    Bonus: Akamai for Self-Hosting

    Akamai CDN Content Delivery Network
    Self-hosting is an approach that some advanced broadcasters take quite a bit of technical know-how. Source: Akamai.com

    The self-hosted model is an alternative to hosting your video content with an online video platform. Using self-hosting for online video streaming setups can be technologically complex, so it requires the support of experienced individuals with the appropriate technical know-how.

    Akamai is a great option for broadcasters that are looking for a streaming server to support their self-hosted setup. This CDN provider is one of the oldest collections of video streaming servers in the world. It’s also the largest network, with more than 240,000 servers located in more than 130 countries.

    Broadcasters can access Akamai through a variety of online video platforms, including Dacast, or they can purchase contracts to access Akamai directly.

    Basic Functionality:

    Akamai is a video streaming and VOD server that is built to support self-hosted streaming setups. It is used specifically to help deliver video content. 

    Key Features:

    • Case Management
    • Certificate Provisioning System
    • China video streaming
    • User interfaces for content control 
    • CP Codes and Reporting Groups Tool
    • Diagnostic tools
    • Firewall Rules Notification
    • Identity and Access Management
    • Log Delivery
    • Property Manager API
    • Sandbox Environment

    Pros of Self Hosting:

    • Gives broadcasters more control over their streams
    • Broadcaster owns all rights
    • More customizable experience 

    Cons of Self Hosting:

    • More expensive
    • Very complex
    • Requires support of an experienced professional
    • Can be technologically taxing

    Pricing:

    Akamai custom builds plans to best suit each user’s needs, so all plans are custom-priced.

    How to Choose the Best Streaming Server Hosting Service

    I know what you’re thinking. Now that we’ve taken a look at a few of the top platforms for streaming server hosting, you can see that many of these software options are similar in terms of features. This can make comparing online video platforms difficult.

    Although there are dozens of different features to consider, it is important to enter the decision-making process with a list of features that are non-negotiables in terms of your streaming goals.

    We believe that Dacast is a great streaming server hosting option for broadcasters with all different needs since we have solutions for enterprise streaming. Here’s why:

    1. Versatility: Dacast includes both live streaming and VOD server services, which makes it more versatile than some competing platforms that only include professional video hosting.
    2. High-End Features: The platform comes equipped with a wide range of features including unlimited concurrent viewers, mobile streaming, player customization, multiple monetization methods, and more.
    3. 24/7 Tech Support: Round-the-clock technical support is a must, especially if you’re live streaming and you run into any issues whatsoever. Dacast is one of the few OVPs that offer 24/7 support.
    4. China Delivery: Dacast supports China video playback, which is essential for businesses and agencies doing work on the Chinese mainland. This feature is not standard on most OVPs.

    Conclusion

    Online video is becoming more important for modern businesses. Likewise, it’s exploding in other sectors, including education, government, nonprofits, and elsewhere. Success with online video requires the right technology with support for server steamer hosting and delivering your video. 

    Depending on your needs, it can be challenging to find the right online video platform for you. However, identifying your streaming goals and the features you’ll need to achieve these goals should help you get started.

    Not yet streaming with Dacast and ready to give our streaming solutions a try? We offer a 14-day free trial so you can test all of our powerful features for yourself. Sign up today to get started. We’ll have you up and testing our online video platform in a matter of minutes. No credit card is required.

    Get Started For Free

    Whatever your goals, we hope this article has updated you on streaming server hosting. And if you have further questions or thoughts, feel free to leave us a comment below. We’ll get back to you!

    Finally, are you looking for more live streaming tips, industry networking opportunities, and exclusive offers? If so, you can also join our LinkedIn group regardless of your other goals. Thanks for reading, and happy broadcasting!

     

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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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