When it comes to doing live streaming, it can be challenging to know where to start. One of the first components for new broadcasters to consider–how to choose their online video platform (OVP) from among many video streaming platforms on the market. And luckily, that’s where we come in! When it comes to pro streaming solutions, you want to compare features like monetization options, API access, storage, analytics, and more.
To that end, this article provides an updated comparison of the top 5 video streaming platforms available on the market today. First, we’ll introduce some basics about video streaming platforms. Next, we’ll review the importance of comparing features, such as reliability and price in particular. Then, we’ll share a spreadsheet comparison of basic features of five video streaming platforms, including our own. Finally, we’ll offer our recommendations for how to choose the right platform for you.
With that outline in mind, let’s turn to a review of some basics for comparing video streaming platforms.
What to know about video streaming platforms
While you’re jumping through hoops to learn all you can about video streaming platforms, it’s important to narrow down what exactly you want to achieve. In fact, this process is not really about how to find the cheapest or the most popular platform. Instead, it’s about choosing the platform with the greatest number of beneficial attributes for you or your business.
Some popular streaming solutions work well for users who want to give that OVP the rights to your video content and let them monetize it themselves. YouTube Live is free, for example. However, unless you’re a mega-media company, you give up the distribution rights to your content. Also, you forfeit control over displayed ads and comments with free sites like YouTube Live.
If you plan to stream live events like concerts, meetings, and religious events, you need a live streaming platform that is going to keep the process of broadcasting simple. Likewise, if you want to stream live video on your website, you’ll want to choose a platform that supports that feature.
Let’s take a look now at some of the top pro video streaming platforms on the market.
A Growing Market
According to Statista’s report, the number of digital video viewers in the United States is projected to surpass 236 million in the year 2020. Today, video streaming has become one of the top ways with which to communicate and entertain customers. In short, the need for video streaming continues to grow exponentially. At the same time, so do the number of video streaming platforms designed to meet that demand.
When choosing between video streaming platforms, reliability is a key aspect to compare.
For example, a live streaming CDN-powered service will allow you to stream content globally without fear of reaching a viewer limit. These include DaCast, IBM Cloud Video (formerly Ustream), Vimeo (Livestream), Wowza, and Brightcove. (Below, we’ll share details for each of these video streaming platforms.)
Along with hosting and delivering your video broadcasts, many live video streaming platforms now come equipped with built-in features. For example, these can include providing analytics about your viewers. Let’s say you aren’t sure how many people are actually viewing your content. With analytics, you can easily request a report and review your viewership metrics.
Arguably the most important point of consideration for many consumers is price. With close competition between live streaming platforms, clients are interested in finding the best quality and features for the lowest price.
This competition helps to keep down prices, all while increasing what you can afford with your budget. When consumers find high-quality video streaming platforms at a great price, they tend to commit right away.
We recommend comparing live streaming pricing plans to help narrow down your options. Furthermore, we highly recommend taking advantage of free trials (like DaCast’s) when available!
Video Streaming Platforms: A Comparison
With the above features in mind, let’s review the specs of the top five platforms available today. The chart below compares five video streaming platforms, analyzing the 1st plan level from each service.
First, take a look at the chart and categories it compares. From there, try to identify for yourself which feature(s) are most necessary for your streaming goals. Which are the non-negotiables? On which features could you compromise? If you’re already a customer of one of these platforms, why did you choose it? Are you satisfied with the services you receive so far?
||IBM Cloud Video (UStream)||Wowza||Brightcove|
|Entry Level Price||$19/mo||*no longer offers a basic plan*
|$99/mo||$49/mo* (*monthly billing only)
|Ad-Free Viewer Hours||300||Unlimited||100||1,000 or 6,000||Up to 8 hrs/yr of SD live streaming|
|Storage (GB)||20||Unlimited||50||250||50 videos|
|Number of Channels||Unlimited||1 only
|Geo restriction||√||√||From $799/mo||√||√|
How to Choose Between Video Streaming Platforms?
Also of note, each of these five video streaming platforms provides access to a video API. This feature supports a quick and easy integration of the product into numerous cloud-based video applications, services, and digital media workflows. No matter your choice, you can develop your very own platform and stream live directly from that site.
That said, you’ll also want to note whether a given platform offers a basic/starter plan. If so, does it require you to commit to a premium or professional-level account right off the bat? Additionally, review which features are available at the basic plan level. Will you need to pay more for basic features right from the start?
For example, Vimeo (Livestream) recently eliminated their Basic plan offering. This followed Vimeo’s acquisition Livestream in 2017. Today, Vimeo (Livestream) broadcasters can choose the Premium Plan for $75/month (billed annually) or $199/month (billed monthly). Vimeo (Livestream) users seeking professional live streaming features, however, will need to purchase a custom-priced Enterprise Plan. These features include white-label streaming, security features, and 24/7 streaming capabilities. Enterprise plans may be an accessible option for larger-scale businesses who can afford the corresponding higher cost of custom-priced plans. Live streamers on a tighter budget will need to look for more accessible, affordable options that are still feature-rich.
Why choose DaCast?
We stream video using HTML5 via HLS or HDS, which is compatible with mobile, desktop, tablet, and any other device. When compared to the other video streaming platforms above, DaCast remains the only one to offer so many features in its basic plan. In fact, nearly all of the Premium-level features come with the Starter plan. Even better, this plan is currently available at the low price of only $19 per month.
DaCast platform highlights
As with all our plans, DaCast’s basic plan ensures you have access to a white-label system. This means that you can completely rebrand the platform for your needs. Want to get access to the white-label, integrated paywall? Just upgrade to the Premium plan at $125 a month. This gives you access to ALL of our features and more bandwidth and storage. First, simply sign up for an account (or for a free trial). Once you do, you can set up and begin streaming in just a few minutes.
Also, DaCast features include 24/7 customer support, ad-free and white-label system, analytics, APIs, and access to Akamai’s CDN. This CDN has a network of more that 160,000 servers worldwide. The Akamai CDN allows DaCasters to broadcast high-quality streams to a large audience all over the world. Additionally, DaCast makes it easy to stream live video from your website. That way, you can focus on maintaining the look and feel of your site and content.
If you need API access, monetization, and rapid phone support, we recommend the popular DaCast Premium Plan for $125/month. This plan includes 2000 GB of streaming data per month and 200 GB of storage. Click here for our live streaming pricing plan details.
Whatever your streaming needs, whatever the size of your audience, we’re here to help. DaCast offers an all-in-one professional streaming solution with no need to engage with intermediaries. You’re assured an easy, seamless experience, backed by our 24/7 support service and a complete knowledge base.
Compared to other video streaming platforms, DaCast guarantees a high-quality product with advantageous features at a highly competitive price. Whichever streaming service you do choose, we hope this article has helped you to make a more informed decision.
Last but not least, are you ready to go live today? If so, start streaming live in just a few minutes with our 30-day free trial (no credit card required).
Finally, for regular tips and exclusive offers, you’re also invited to join our LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts!
By Max Wilbert.
*Note to our readers: We’ve updated this article to reflect the latest comparison information as of April 2019.