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Choosing a Video Streaming Solution for Your Business in 7 Easy Steps [2021 Update]

By Emily Krings

24 Min Read

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Emily Krings

Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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      Did you know that trends in video streaming increased by 72.4% between Quarter 1 of 2018 and Quarter 1 of 2019?

      The data speaks for itself: traditional television is fading away and live streaming media is booming. Children, teens, and millennials are “cutting the cord” so to speak, and switching to online streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and more.

      Young people head to the internet for both news and entertainment. This trend has many businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations searching for and implementing live video streaming solutions.

      With so many excellent streaming solutions on the market, making a decision can be tough. What you need to do is identify your streaming goals and choose the streaming service that has the features that help you reach those goals.

      In this article, we’ll discuss best practices for choosing the right secure video streaming solution for your business. 

      We will talk about how to do the following:

      1. Conduct a Competitive Analysis
      2. Create a Product Requirement Document
      3. Identify Product Requirement Disqualifiers
      4. Create a Price Comparison
      5. Identify the MVPs
      6. Consider Your Workflow
      7. Choose Your Streaming Solution

      Once you take these things into consideration, you’ll have the clarity and understanding you need to choose the best video streaming solution.

      Step 1: Conduct a Competitive Analysis

      competitive analysis
      Conducting a competitive analysis is one of the best practices for finding a video streaming solution.

      The first step in making an informed choice is comparing information. In this case, you’re going to have to compare possible live video streaming solutions.

      Head over to Google and do some quick searches about live streaming. Read over the websites in the top results and check out blogs about the best live streaming solutions.

      Here are some questions that you should be asking:

      Getting a better grasp of these areas of live streaming will come in handy further along your decision-making process.

      Step 2: Create a Product Requirement Document

      Product Requirement Document
      Which streaming features will help you reach your business’s goals?

      List the essential features of the video streaming solution that would help you reach your goals. Sit down with other members of your team, and discuss what the perfect live stream would look like for your business.

      What would be happening on the screen? How many cameras would you be using? Would you be using a green screen, animations, or titles?

      Write down these critical features, and then do some research on them. For example, green screens, animations, and titles are usually taken care of at the encoder level. You would use live streaming software, like Wirecast or OBS Studio or hardware such as Teradek, for this purpose. 

      Here are a few features to think about:

      • Monetization options
      • Security features
      • Customized branding (also known as “white-label”)
      • Video API access for integrations

      You don’t need an online video platform with every single feature available. You just need the features that are important for your business hosting needs.

      Taking a Closer Look at Streaming Solution Features

      Three major features that broadcasters find useful include video content delivery network (CDN), ease of use of the platform, and customer support.

      First, take a look at what sort of content delivery network the platform uses. There are many different live streaming CDNs out there, and they differ in performance. Look for a fast, well-regarded, and large content delivery network. 

      CDNs are largely responsible for the quality of your stream. Around 67% of viewers report that video quality is the most important factor, so this is definitely something to pay attention to.

      The next factor to consider is the ease of use of the platform. Some live streaming platforms are highly complex and take a great deal of time to set up and start using. The best way to assess this usability factor is to use the free trial of a given platform and spend some time testing things out.

      We also recommend you assess the robustness of customer support among the candidates. Live streaming is a technical process, meaning issues can arise. During live streams, setup, and planning, it is important to have easy, fast access to professional tech support. 

      Look for support teams that aren’t staffed by call centers. Professionally trained employees of the streaming company will have the strongest ability to help.

      Step 3: Identify Product Requirement Disqualifiers

      product requirement disqualifiers
      Do you have any deal-breaking streaming solution features?

      After considering must-have features, you should also consider disqualifying qualities.

      For example, you may want to look for a video streaming solution that caters directly to your market. Maybe you have very specific, custom needs that can’t be met unless a provider offers personalized solutions. 

      Perhaps you need a comprehensive API with clear code examples to enable your developers to integrate live streaming with existing workflows, apps, websites, or other systems.

      There are many things that may disqualify an OTT video provider from consideration. Maybe you want a comprehensive free trial. After all, you’re making a large purchase, so it’s important to be able to test the platform before committing.

      Keep this list with your list of essential features, and base your assessments of each online video platform on these criteria.

      Step 4: Create a Price Comparison

      live streaming pricing plans
      Your streaming solution budget should depend on your goals and how you plan to monetize your broadcasts.

      Next, take a look at the price. Many live stream solutions are designed differently, so they have very different price points.

      Some platforms take a premium pricing model and aim their services at major institutions, while others offer similar—sometimes even better—functionality at a much more affordable price. 

      Additionally, many platforms offer several live streaming pricing plans with different features and price points.

      We recommend you survey the market to establish a sense of what is a high, medium, and low price. From there, compare these numbers with your budget. 

      This should help you further narrow down your video streaming solution providers based on what sort of investment you are willing to make.

      Step 5: Identify the MVP

      product requirement audit
      MVP has a different meaning in the business world. Essentially, it is the product that gives you the most bang for your buck.

      Maximizing your return on investment is a standard desire in the business world. This is why you need to identify the MVP.

      An MVP is the minimum viable product. This basically means it’s the product that accomplishes the most with the least.

      When it comes to choosing a live streaming solution for your business, an MVP will include all of the features you need to reach your goals and a reasonable price tag.

      Step 6: Consider Your Workflow

      live video streaming workflow
      Map out what you want your live streams to look like, and choose an OVP that will make that happen.

      While a streaming solution may tick all the boxes off your list of desired features and fit your budget, it is important to make sure it can withstand your workflow.

      Workflows vary greatly depending on how you produce your live streams. For example, are you working with one camera, or many? Are you using an engineer to mix your live streams in real-time, or are you feeding unedited videos directly to the encoder?

      All of this will affect what features you need. At this point, you likely have a better sense of what video platforms look and feel like and how you may use them. 

      Now’s the time to imagine yourself using each live streaming platform in the context of your real-life work and to take your preferences into account.

      Step 7: Choose Your Video Streaming Solution

      Video Streaming Solution
      The most important factor to consider is whether or not your choice of OVP helps you reach your goals.

      By now, you should have enough information to make an informed choice. Refer back to the lists you have made and consider taking advantage of the free trials from your top choices.

      There are a lot of great platforms out there, but the one that’s best for your business will depend on what you aim to achieve. 

      Unless broadcasting is the main service your business provides, you shouldn’t take an absurd amount of time to make this decision. 

      It’s always possible to switch to a new platform if your initial choice doesn’t meet your needs. This process should help you hit the mark on the first go-round.

      Top Online Video Streaming Platforms – Updated for 2021

      There are many great online video platforms that are worth checking out during your search for the perfect streaming solution for your business.

      Here are a few of the top 5 live streaming solutions on the market:

      1. Dacast

      Dacast Video Streaming Platform
      Dacast—equipped to host both live streaming and on-demand content—is one of the top B2B video streaming platforms on the market.

      Dacast is a unified streaming solution that offers a wide variety of professional features. We offer both live streaming and video on demand platforms

      This platform is designed for broadcasters from enterprises, schools, and other professional organizations 

      Basic Functionality:

      Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and online video hosting services. Users can embed videos on their own websites while maintaining 100% control of their content. Among other features, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.

      Key Features:

      Pros:

      Cons:

      • Takes a little bit of time to learn all of the features

      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, MTS

      Pricing:

      Streaming solution plans with Dacast come at three levels. The video streaming pricing plans include:

      • Starter plan: ideal for newcomers with 1,000 TB of bandwidth and 50 GB of storage per month, at just $39 per month billed annually.
      • Scale plan: includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year, with 1 TB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These Scale pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, an M3U8 online player for live channels, ad insertion, white-label Cnames, and video API access. 
      • Event plan: for organizations who’d rather not sign a contract, and want to purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event. It offers 6 TB of bandwidth upfront, 50 GB of storage, and costs just $63 per month (or $750/year). Additional data and storage can be added as needed.
      • Custom plan: if your enterprise business has high volume streaming needs, you can contact Dacast for a custom plan tailored to your needs.

      Read more here about live streaming pricing plans in more detail.

      2. Brightcove

      Brightcove Video Streaming Platform
      Brightcove’s Video Streaming Platform uses an innovative HTML5 video player with the latest ingest and transcoding technology. Source: Brightcove Video Cloud

      Brightcove’s platform with a special emphasis on monetization and marketing. This platform has been around since 2004, and it has grown with the video streaming industry.

      Brightcove is known as a luxury B2B video platform that is best suited for larger enterprises.

      Basic Functionality:

      Brightcove is a video hosting platform specifically designed to help with marketing and monetization.

      Key Features:

      • Video monetization 
      • Marketing and advertising tools
      • Live streaming
      • Powerful app integrations for maximum customization
      • Insightful video analytics

      Pros:

      • Privacy and security tools
      • Built-in editing features
      • Many apps and integrations
      • Reliable technical support

      Cons:

      • Additional purchase required for 24/7 support
      • Difficult for beginner broadcasters to use

      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 packages are all custom priced and are no longer posted.

      The three pricing tiers 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

      For more information on Brightcove’s pricing, please contact them for a quote.

      3. JW Player

      JWplayer video streaming solution
      JW Player began as a small piece of open-source code to play audio and video files. It’s grown since then into a live streaming player.

      Overview and Company History:

      The JW Player project (as the name suggests) began as a video player. This now streaming solution was founded in 2005 as part of a student project. Today, this service offers video hosting services and live streaming.

      Basic Functionality:

      This solution is known for its HTML5 video player for VOD content. In addition to that, JW Player is now a full-service live streaming provider.

      Key Features:

      • Live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) hosting
      • Video recommendations engine to generate a custom “watch next” recommendations
      • Tools for monetization via advertising, and detailed revenue tracking
      • Analytics tools

      Detailed Features:

      • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
      • Global content delivery
      • Email support through the $100/month plan level
      • Video API access on all plans
      • Security features are basic but functional.
      • Only custom-priced Enterprise plans offer DRM
      • Monetization via advertising

      Pros:

      • Great video player
      • Simple, easy-to-use platform
      • Good advertising tools

      Cons:

      • Live streaming limited to custom-priced plans with a 6-hour duration
      • Only ad-based monetization
      • No China video delivery

      Upload Guidelines and Specs:

      • Minimum dimension: 360p (640 x 360)
      • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
      • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3, 2.39:1
      • Max file size: 25GB
      • Max video length: Not available
      • Total file storage: 25GB to 500GB (depends on the plan)
      • Compatible video formats: MP4, WMV, AVI, MOV, 3GP, FLV

      Pricing:

      JWPlayer pricing plans include the following tiers:

      • Free trial: JW Player offers a 30-day free trial subscription which includes full API and SDK access, a non-commercial license, 25 GB hosting bandwidth, and 75 GB streaming.
      • Starter plan: At $10 per month, the Starter pricing plan includes an HTML5 Video Player, a video gallery, with 150 GB hosting bandwidth, and 500 GB streaming (50,000 plays) per month (billed annually).
      • Enterprise plan: these business-specific plans are available with custom pricing for high-volume storage and streaming. Enterprise plans support live streaming, while lower-tier plans only support VOD.  

      4. Kaltura

      Kaltura Streaming Video Solution
      Kaltura provides a wide range of live streaming video solutions.

      Overview and Company History:

      The Kaltura online video platform targets large institutions. In particular, Kaltura focuses on four markets: video services for educational institutions, enterprises, media companies, and OTT video services. Historically, this company has worked most extensively with educational institutions.

      Basic Functionality:

      This video streaming solution is an alternative to the self-hosted video model. The software for Kaltura is free, however, it requires an infrastructure of servers for hosting and distributing content. Kaltura provides cloud-based hosting and distribution for both VOD and live streams.

      Key Features:

      The Kaltura Management Console (KMC) offers tools to create, upload, edit, manage, publish, and deliver live and on-demand video to viewers. Key features of the KMC include:

      • Live streaming and VOD hosting
      • Secure content delivery via Akamai, Limelight, and eCDNs
      • Live transcoding, live production software, and video marketing tools
      • Video APIs, SDKs, developer tools, and code recipes
      • Highly customizable, and therefore highly complex streaming platform

      Detailed Features:

      • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
      • Video API access
      • Global content delivery via a combined CDN approach
      • Ability to bring your own CDN
      • Security features including a range of authentication and encryption options
      • Monetization including all major models – subscription, advertising, PPV streaming

      Pros:

      • Many available features
      • Totally customizable streaming experience
      • Great monetization options
      • Robust security

      Cons:

      • Ticket-based system for support
      • Highly complex
      • Not suited for new broadcasters
      • No China video delivery

      Upload Guidelines and Specs:

      • Minimum dimension: 180p (320 x 180)
      • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920x 1080)
      • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
      • Max file size: 2GB
      • Max video length: Not available
      • Total file storage: 10GB to Unlimited (depends on the plan)
      • Compatible video formats: MOV, MP4

      Pricing:

      Kaltura doesn’t publish pricing information on their website, but it is on the higher end in terms of cost. This live streaming solution offers custom-priced and pay-as-you-go plans to broadcasters. Interested broadcasters must contact their sales department directly to design a custom package. Given the degree of customization of plans with Kaltura, this option is best suited for large-scale enterprises with larger budgets.

      5. Vimeo Livestream

      Vimeo Video Streaming Platform
      The Vimeo Video Streaming Platform offers live broadcasting and video hosting solutions for businesses of all sizes. Source: Vimeo

      Although Vimeo Livestream now serves a professional clientele, it began as a B2C platform similar to YouTube. 

      Vimeo offers a variety of features that support live streaming and VOD hosting.

      Basic Functionality:

      Vimeo is a video hosting platform built for everybody from beginners to professionals.

      Key Features:

      • Pay for what you use
      • Editing tools included
      • Ad-free streaming
      • Pay-per-view and subscriptions
      • Professional looking platform
      • Easy-to-use API
      • Analytics 

      Pros:

      • User friendly
      • Monetization options 
      • Built-in transcoding
      • Customizable video players
      • VOD and live streaming

      Cons:

      • Monetization costs up to 10% of revenue 
      • Gets expensive as you purchase add-ons
      • No China video delivery

      Upload Guidelines and Specs:

      • Recommended dimension: 720p (1280 x 720)
      • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
      • Max file size: 3GB
      • Max video length: Information not available 
      • Total file storage: Information not available
      • Compatible video formats: MP4 (recommended)

      Pricing:

      Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:

      Vimeo Premium:

      • Premium pricing: $75/month
      • Their Premium plan includes both live streaming and VOD services. This plan is the way to go for professional broadcasting.

      Vimeo Enterprise:

      • Enterprise Pricing: Please contact Vimeo for custom pricing information
      • The Enterprise plan includes white-label service, monetization, and video APIs. It also includes branding control and added security features.

      Vimeo OTT:

      • Starter Pricing: $1/subscriber per month
      • Growth Pricing: starting at $500/month
      • The OTT-specific pricing packages come with the Vimeo.com relationship. These plans include all the basics for starting your web-based OTT channel, as well as growing your OTT business online.

      For more details, check out our comprehensive guide to Vimeo Livestream pricing.

      For more information comparing the features, price points, and special capabilities of different online video platforms, check out our complete online video platform comparison for business.

      Conclusion

      video streaming platform comparison
      Did you know that you can try Dacast risk-free for 30 days?

      Choosing a video streaming platform can seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. With a simple, streamlined process like the one we’ve outlined, assessing your options by identifying your needs can be relatively straightforward.

      It isn’t necessarily about which platform has the best features, it is about finding the streaming solution that helps your business hit its goals.

      Reading and researching live streaming platforms can be very helpful, but if you’re short on time, we recommend taking advantage of free trials. Testing out a platform for yourself is an ideal way to decide if it’s the right video streaming solution for you.

      In fact, you can start with the Dacast 30-day free trial (no credit card required). That way, you can test out our platform features before making a commitment. Just click the button below to stream live video in a matter of minutes.

      GET STARTED FOR FREE

      Do you have further questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below, and we will get back to you. For regular live streaming tips and exclusive offers, you can also join the Dacast LinkedIn group. We’d love to connect there as well!

      author avatar

      Emily Krings

      Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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