Video is a powerful communication tool. Businesses and organizations of all types are increasingly relying on online video and live video streaming as a key cornerstone of marketing and operations. According to one survey, 76.5% of marketers and small business owners are getting results with video marketing. This article will look at professional streaming video hosting.
Specifically, we’re going to dive into common challenges in video hosting, and how to overcome them. First, we’re going to look (briefly) at free streaming video hosting platforms. These services, while tempting, can be a dead-end for many businesses. We’ll explain why these hosting and streaming solutions can be a trap.
Next, we’ll dive into hosting your own streaming video. This can seem like an attractive option. But it also comes with major downsides, which we’ll explore. Finally, we’ll finish the article with a look at what we believe is the smartest choice: streaming video hosting via online video platforms.
Free platforms are a trap
Many people just getting started with online video begin with platforms like YouTube and Facebook. These services are so widely used, it’s easy to rely on them. However, recent scandals have reminded us of the truth. Free platforms rely on selling user data and advertising to monetize their services.
As the saying goes, if the streaming platform is free, you’re the product.
These platforms can still be useful to businesses. However, discerning users are likely to find many other reasons to avoid these consumer-grade platforms. For example, they simply don’t have the necessary features for professional users. Abilities like monetization, advanced analytics, white label custom branding, and API integration simply don’t exist on these free services.
They may be free, but the ROI is still worse on free platforms compared to professional alternatives.
For all these reasons, we recommend avoiding free social platform. At least, avoiding them as a primary option.
Why doing your own streaming video hosting is usually a bad idea
After free hosting, another alternative that appeals to some businesses is to do their own streaming video hosting. This involves operating your own server(s) dedicated to delivering streaming video 24/7. This option can be valuable for some users. However, there are a number of significant drawbacks and costs that need to be considered. Let’s take a look at those now.
Setting up your own streaming video hosting requires that you purchase and install your own equipment. This involves the servers themselves, routers, firewalls, power supplies, racks to mount all this in, cooling equipment, and other requirements of a modern internet server. You’ll also need to electricity to keep all this running.
These costs can be significant. However, the scale of this cost depends greatly on how powerful of a server you need. If you’re only delivering a few videos to a small audience, costs can be relatively small. But if your audience is substantial, costs can rise significantly.
In contrast, when you work with a video hosting service, you don’t pay equipment costs. Purchasing and installing equipment is not your responsibility. Instead of unpredictable capital costs, you incur a simple monthly fee.
When you have servers, you need people to run them. That requires trained, qualified staff. These people must be paid. And, of course, you have to consider things like benefits, PTO, sick leave, personnel management, and so on. Even if you already have capable people on staff, those people’s time must now at least partially go towards installation and upkeep for those servers.
In contrast, when you work with a video streaming solution, staffing is in their purview. You are responsible only for video production, editing, and uploading. All staffing related to the video hosting side of things is not your responsibility.
Security and maintenance
One big suck of technical people’s time is security and maintenance updates for in-house servers. Severs require protection and updating regularly. While some of this can be done automatically via scripting, there is always a need for human intervention.
Security problems can rapidly develop into major business issues. We’ve seen an increasing number of major digital security breaches in recent years. These breaches cost companies major headaches and can lead to total bankruptcy. Security is no joke, and when you’re running your own servers you are completely responsible for your own security.
When you work with an external streaming video hosting service, security and maintenance isn’t your concern. Instead, it’s the responsibility of a team of in-house experts who have the resources and time to dedicate themselves to top performance. In most cases, this results in better maintained, safer servers.
We always recommend that streamers have as much redundancy as possible. If some problem occurs, having a backup in place can be the difference between a total failure and a momentary problem, quickly overcome and forgotten.
Building redundancy into your own live streaming server is a challenge. It involves doubling up on hardware, and ensuring that software failovers are in place and properly configured.
Using an external service means that redundancy is built into the system. Streaming video hosting services like DaCast work with thousands of users. This means systems are large enough to handle disturbances, and have built-in failsafe redundancies that activate in the event of hardware failure or other service disruption.
Scalability and expansion
When you’re running your own streaming video hosting, scalability can be a problem. Sure, you may be prepared for a small amount of people watching your content. But what happens if your video or product goes viral, and 10 million people try to access your videos at the same time?
Can your server handle that kind of load? In most cases, the answer is no. That leads to a situation in which you experience failure. That’s not good. When traffic explodes, you most need stability to take advantage of it.
Additionally, regular expansion may be necessary. Replacing processors with newer, faster models. Upgrading RAM and network connections. Replacing hard drives and SSDs with larger, faster versions. These all represent additional cost, headache, and potential problems.
Once again, there is a way to offload these issues.
Alternatives for on-demand and live streaming video hosting
You don’t have to work with free video platforms. And you don’t have to be responsible for your own streaming video hosting. There is a better alternative available. This option is called an “Online Video Platform,” or OVP.
An OVP provides managed video hosting, usually via a simple monthly or yearly contract. Your business gets access to an online management dashboard, a variety of tools for online video, and a set amount of storage and bandwidth for videos. You also get the peace of mind of not having to worry about maintenance, servers, security, and all the rest.
Streaming as a service
Here at DaCast, we run a popular online video platform. Our customer’s online video is delivered via the Akamai CDN. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of thousands of servers located around the world. These servers coordinate to distribute your video content quickly and reliably.
Additionally, the DaCast platform includes a wide range of advanced features. This includes:
- Full custom branding — no DaCast logo on any video content, use your own logo everywhere.
- Monetization tools – make money from your videos via subscriptions, per-per-view, or advertising. Some estimates are that more than a third of professional broadcasters monetize their content via subscription models.
- API (Application Programming Interface) – allows you to easily create custom web and mobile apps, and to integrate the DaCast video platform with existing workflows and portals.
- Included HTML5 video player – compatible with every device and platform, plus includes some new advanced features such as chapter markers.
- Live streaming – if you want to expand into live video, DaCast has you fully covered with robust support and Akamai-quality delivery.
Hopefully this article has introduced you to the topic of video hosting. I also hope that it’s dispelled some of the myths around this topic and helped you choose the best hosting option.
For regular live streaming tips, as well as exclusive offers, you can also join our LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live streams!