2021 Guide to Streaming Server Hosting for Live Video and VOD

Streaming Server

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. 

Fortunately, hosting your 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. 

Furthermore, 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. Content delivery and scalability are significant challenges

Choosing the best streaming server hosting service can be a bit overwhelming 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 2021 Guide, we will talk about what streaming server hosting is and what to look for in a video hosting platform. From there, we compare 5 of the top streaming server hosting services.

Table of Contents

  • What is Streaming Server Hosting?
    • What is the Purpose of Streaming Server Hosting?
    • Who Uses Live Streaming Hosting?
  • What to Look for in Streaming Server Hosting Services
  • Top 5 Streaming Server Hosting Providers
  • Choosing the Best Streaming Server Hosting Service
  • Conclusion

What is Streaming Server Hosting?

streaming server hosting
Streaming server hosting provides video content on the web to users via any internet-connected device.

For those who don’t know, we’ll first answer the question “what is streaming server hosting?” Let’s break it down.

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

A “server” is a computer designed to deliver content over the internet. In fact, every website that you visit is delivered by a server. When you visit a website, your computer or phone connects to a server, which then “serves” you the website. 

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

With that working definition in mind, video streaming server hosting is a software as a service  (SaaS) that allows users to upload, host, organize, and deliver on demand video content online. And this is all possible without having to buy and configure servers of your own.

What is the Purpose of Streaming Server Hosting?

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

Hosting on a SaaS platform that has a built-in video streaming server makes storing, managing, and delivering your video content easy. Most of the top 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 platform.

Who Uses Live Streaming 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. This could also be 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. 

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 platform that you choose includes access to the features you need to reach your broadcasting goals.

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

Again, it doesn’t matter how many features a streaming server hosting service offers. What matters is that your chosen platform has the specific features your need at the price point that works for you.

Top 5 Streaming Server Hosting Providers

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

1. Dacast

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

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

The 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:

Plans on Dacast start at $39/month. Please check out our bandwidth calculator to find the right plan for you.

    • Starter Plan: $39/month (includes 100 GB 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

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 platform for streaming server hosting that is focused on VOD. Professional plans for Wistia start at $99 per month and are fully white-label. There are limitations on videos that can be embedded with the plan. Each additional upload is 25¢ per month. 

Wistia does not support live streaming, so if your goal is to host live broadcasts and virtual events, this platform may not be right for you.

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
  • No China video delivery

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:

  • Basic plan: Free
  • Pro plan: $99/month
  • Advanced: Please contact Wistia directly for pricing information.

3. Vidyard

vidyard online video platform 360video
Vidyard is a software company founded in 2010 that creates software to host and analyze video performance.

Next, let’s take a look at Vidyard. This is another unified video hosting platform that supports both live and VOD hosting. 

In addition to marketing, it’s also advertised for 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
  • No China video delivery

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’s professional plans start at $15/month.

Packages for Individuals and Teams:

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

Custom Video Solutions:

4. Brightcove

brightcove online video platform
Brightcove is an online video hosting platform and online video player solution, founded in 2004.

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

It’s a fully-loaded platform, with live streaming and VOD support, monetization tools, and analytics. 

All plans are custom-priced and reviewers state they start around $500 per month.

Basic Functionality:

Brightcove offers professional streaming 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
  • No China video delivery

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 has individual pricing options for each customer. Please contact them directly for a quote.

5. IBM Cloud Video

ibm cloud video online video platform
IBM cloud video is a live video streaming company founded in 2007, which is a subsidiary of IBM.

Another player in the online video market for live streaming is IBM Cloud Video. IBM is a large video platform with a wide range of use cases. 

Some notable features 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.

Choosing the Best Streaming Server Hosting Service

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 is 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 services, which makes it more versatile than some competing platforms that only include 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

video streaming server hosting
Choosing a streaming server for hosting that fits your needs is an important step to ensure your streaming success.

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 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 30-day free trial (no credit card required). We’ll have you up and testing our online video platform in a matter of minutes. Or if you want to discuss your specific needs with us in more detail, reach out to our team and contact us today. We’ll discuss your goals and help create a plan to help you reach them.

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!

2 thoughts on “2021 Guide to Streaming Server Hosting for Live Video and VOD

  1. Urvashi Amesar says:

    Hello,
    Very helpful information.. need to further understand a lots to proceed for our online video streaming requirements. How do I go about it and whom do I get in touch with to discuss about our specific requirements before proceeding with the trial for one month?

    Awaiting your kind response at the earliest.

    Thanks and regards,
    Urvashi Amesar

    • Harmonie Duhamel says:

      Hi Urvashi, We have plenty of explanations in our blog and knowledgebase articles. Also, one of our account managers will be able to give you further details as soon as you create your account. That is why I would recommend first your trial account to get additional help with your account executive. But you can also email us with more details about your project so we can give you more advice: business@dacast.com Feel free to reach us anytime if you have any further questions.
      Best regards,

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