What is the Cost of Streaming Solutions in 2020?

Cost of Streaming Solutions

Today, more than sixty-three percent of people aged 18-34 watch live video streaming content regularly. The industry is booming and more and more organizations are beginning to live stream video on their website. This requires consideration of the costs associated with streaming. This blog will look at the cost of streaming solutions in 2019.

More specifically, we’ll examine a number of different factors in the cost of streaming solutions. We’ll focus on the cost of the platforms themselves, comparing 5 top live video streaming platforms. However, we’ll also take a brief look at the cost of equipment and other services.

Don’t let the cost of live streaming deter you from getting started. In today’s world, streaming can be an essential part of doing business. Companies using video generally get more than 41% more web traffic from search. For online sales, video makes purchases 1.6x more likely. And around 52 percent of marketing professionals say video is the content type with the best ROI. 

Creating an Optimum Streaming Experience

private live streaming event

Clearly, OTT video can be highly effective for businesses. However, this requires the right approach. Some businesses choose to use free video hosting platforms for their business purposes. This has the advantage of reducing costs. However, it leads to a sub-optimal experience.

For example, free platforms monetize their over-the-top video via advertising and selling user data. That means that your video may be interrupted or preceded by ads inside or alongside your content. The video player itself will also contain the watermark of the streaming video provider (note that this is also the case with a lot of professional video live streaming solutions unless you pay a very high price).

On top of this, you’re unlikely to have much control over your content when dealing with social media video platforms. Monetization, analytics, security and privacy, and other tools are likely absent or minimal. For all these reasons, we recommend that professional users avoid free platforms and opt for a pro-grade streaming solution.

Factor in the Cost of Streaming Solutions

Enterprise Video Streaming Solutions
We compare the top 5 video streaming solutions for business and enterprise in 2020.

There are various factors that determine the cost of streaming solutions. The two largest factors are bandwidth and features. Most online video platforms charge based on how much bandwidth you use (viewership can be used as a proxy). There are a few platforms that include unlimited bandwidth, but these generally charge a premium for this or give you no access to professional features unless you pay $999.

Features also influence the price. Most video streaming providers offer multiple live streaming plans. Cheaper, more basic plans limit the number of features available. More expensive plans add advanced features, some of which are essential for business use. However, many streaming platforms offer cheap plans that restrict features highlighted on their website and include necessary features only on very expensive plans.

Cost of Streaming Solutions in 2020

Let’s shift now and look at the cost of 5 streaming solutions. We’re going to examine pricing for Brightcove, Dacast, IBM Cloud Video, Livestream, and Wowza. All of these are capable, pro-grade platforms. However, pricing and functionality vary widely.

1. Brightcove

Brightcove Live Streaming Solution
Mainly targeting huge clients, Brightcove offers two pricing plan levels. This solution is ideal for companies that are growing fast.

Overview and Company History:

The first platform we’ll look at is Brightcove. As a video hosting service, Brightcove focuses on marketing tools and businesses, OTT, advertising, and analytics. However, the service is quite expensive compared to most platforms.

Basic Functionality:

Brightcove’s basic’s include video cloud hosting, the lift video player, server-side ad insertion, live streaming video, OTT flow for internet TV, encoder for cloud transcoding, and tools for monetization.

Key Features:

Brightcove’s key feature is the analytics provided to customers. Its detailed analytics and video marketing tools are quite valuable for businesses that aim to capture leads and understand their audience.

Detailed Features:

  • Live streaming and video-on-demand hosting
  • Analytics
  • Server-side ad insertion
  • Cloud transcoding and adaptive bitrate streaming
  • Monetization options on custom-priced plans

Pros:

  • Great analytics
  • Custom video portals
  • CRM integration

Cons:

  • Cost
  • No live streaming with packages under $499/month
  • Monetization limited to custom-priced plans
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Brightcove offers two pricing plan levels that target higher-end clients. Brightcove’s pricing is no longer posted, but plans include basic video marketing tools and analytics with SD streaming quality for unlimited viewers. However, larger users will prefer the Enterprise communications plan, which is custom-priced. Those plans add advanced security tools, HD-quality streaming, and phone support (30-min response time).

2. Dacast

dacast live streaming solution
Dacast offers security features on all plans, including password protection and encryption

Overview and Company History:

The second video streaming solution we’ll examine here is Dacast. The Dacast platform delivers high-quality streaming worldwide at very competitive pricing. Dacast is located in San Francisco with offices in London.

Last year, Dacast earned the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small/Medium Business Video Platform and Runner-Up for Best Education Video Platform. And in 2019, Dacast acquired the vzaar platform, expanding its comprehensive OTT solution.

Basic Functionality:

Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and online video hosting services. Broadcasters who use this live video streaming solution maintains 100% of their content. Among other features, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.

Key Features:

Dacast’s key features are ad-free broadcasting, white-label service on all plans, and top-tier CDN delivery. Reliable 24/7 phone support is also available for event and scale plans.

Detailed Features:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of a learning curve

Pricing:

Pricing plans with Dacast come at three levels. The Developer plan is ideal for newcomers with 100 GB of bandwidth, 20 GB of storage, at just $21 per month billed annually.

However, business users will likely want to use popular Event or Scale plans.
The Event plan (ideal for organizations that stream events once, occasionally, or on an irregular schedule) includes 6,000 GB of bandwidth with 10 GB of storage for $63 per month billed annually. And the Scale plan includes 2,000 GB of bandwidth with 1000 GB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. Note that you will be able to access this bandwidth for up to one year after purchase, making it an economical option for occasional event streamers.
These premium pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, M3u8 links for live channels, ads insertion, white-label Cnames, and video API access. Additional bandwidth is available upon request for monthly plans. Read more here about Dacast’s live streaming pricing plans.

Broadcasters can contact Dacast directly to learn more about custom-priced high volume plans.

3. IBM Cloud Video (formerly UStream)

ibm cloud video Live Streaming Solution
IBM is primarily a live video streaming solution, however, it does provide hosting for previous streams.

Overview and Company History:

Next in our live video streaming solutions review, IBM Cloud Video is the platform formerly known as UStream. This platform offers video hosting and streaming services, as well as a variety of features. Founded in 2007 to connect military service members with family, IBM purchased UStream in 2016.

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.

Basic streaming accounts are free, with advertising supporting IBM Cloud Video. Paid accounts remove advertising and grant access to advanced features. Enterprise accounts allow for full custom branding and offer analytics, multiple live channels, content syndication, and more.

Key Features:

Overall, key elements of IBM Cloud Live Video solution include:

  • Streaming up to 720p resolution (*only Enterprise plans support 1080p full HD streaming)
  • Mobile-compatible video player
  • White-label custom branding (with high-end plans)
  • Uses IBM internal CDN to distribute content
  • API available (with high-end plans)

Detailed Features:

  • Video distribution and workflow
  • OTT video management
  • Enterprise video streaming
  • Enterprise content delivery network
  • Monetization capabilities

Pros:

  • Reliable platform
  • Perfect for larger clients
  • Good customer support
  • Wide range of features for broadcasters
  • Hong Kong (China) video hosting

Cons:

  • Additional fees required in order to stream above 720p resolution
  • Poor closed captioning support

Pricing:

The pricing plans for the IBM Video Cloud start at a range of $99 to $999 per month, and more for custom plans. Each account tier provides some additional features, more storage, and more viewer hours. For example, users have more channels and watermarking on higher-tier plans. Customized packages are available for those with large bandwidth needs.

4. Vimeo Live

vimeo live streaming solution
Vimeo Live is a streaming solution that offers live broadcasting as well as video hosting services.

Overview and company history:

Next is Vimeo Live. In 2017, Vimeo acquired Livestream and launched its own live streaming service called Vimeo Live. Previously, Livestream was a company that offered live streaming and video hosting solutions.  Since the acquisition, the two companies have been merging their services. Like IMB Cloud Video, Vimeo Live is on the higher end of the live streaming pricing market.

Basic Functionality:

Vimeo offers streaming as well as video hosting services. The services include analytics and a video management platform.

Key Features:

  • Full-HD quality
  • All-device video player with adaptive bitrate streaming
  • Privacy tools, or embed to any website
  • White-label service
  • Live audience chat
  • Monetization options

Detailed Features:

  • Large storage capacity
  • Privacy options
  • Video management service
  • High-quality videos and streams
  • Upload from anywhere

Pros:

  • Unlimited events and viewers
  • No ads
  • Sleek and professional appearance
  • Thoroughly detailed analytics
  • Easy to use
  • Pay-per-view option

Cons:

  • Does not generate as much traffic as other sites
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Vimeo offers four main pricing plans.

Their Plus plan is the most basic option available, and it starts at $7/month. It includes basic features, such as player customization and social distribution.

The Pro and Business plans are both middle-of-the-road in terms of pricing and features. They are $20/month and $50/month, respectively.

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

Additionally, they offer a custom-priced Enterprise plan that includes white-label service, monetization, and video APIs. It also includes branding control and added security features.

5. Wowza

wowza Live Streaming Solution
Wowza is a streaming platform for business-critical applications.

Overview and Company History:

Finally, the last of the live video streaming solutions under review here is Wowza Streaming Cloud. Wowza is feature-rich and provides a customizable platform 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.

Basic Functionality:

Wowza offers two main products. The first is the Wowza Streaming Engine. This product is widely used in the industry for self-hosted streaming. The second is the Wowza Streaming Cloud offering. This functionality includes a variety of features aimed at providing low-latency content access to global audiences.

Key Features:

  • Live streaming and on-demand video hosting
  • Host-you-own streaming server product
  • White-label streaming
  • Mobile-compatible video player
  • Customer support (*note that phone support and fast responses cost extra)
  • RESTful API available

Detailed Features:

  • APIs are available
  • Live stream recording
  • Cloud management portal
  • Streaming up to 4K
  • Wide range of security options

Pros:

  • Audience Engagement
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Mobile Screen Support
  • Robust security
  • Video Streaming
  • Video Looping
  • China video delivery

Cons:

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

Pricing:

Wowza pricing plans range from $49 per month to $199 for the streaming cloud and $95 for the streaming engine plans. There are also enterprise plans with flexible pricing, but those require contacting Wowza directly.

Cost of Live Streaming Equipment

Live Streaming Video Equipment

The cost of live streaming equipment varies depending on how complex of a setup you desire to use. If you have a smartphone and only need the simplest streaming, the equipment can be no cost at all.

However, most people will want to upgrade to a better quality mic and video camera. A basic setup can start at just a couple hundred dollars. Mid-range streaming costs in the several thousand ranges. At this price point, you’re generally paying for:

  • A good desktop computer for encoding
  • Capture cards or devices
  • One or multiple HD cameras capable of sending out video via HDMI or SDI
  • Microphones

High-end productions will generally work with professional video engineers to develop a plan and list equipment needs. This will likely include higher-end cameras and audio equipment, mixers, workstation computers, hardware encoder(s), and more. Costs for a basic high-end production studio start around $10K, depending on many factors.

Professional Services and Additional Costs

The final category of costs we’ll look at here is the cost of professional services. This may include things like building a website, creating a video portal, assistance in creating mobile apps, and other similar tasks. Here at Dacast, we offer various professional services to broadcasters at affordable prices.

The biggest additional cost that we haven’t covered here is the cost of staff and operators for your live streaming. This cost will vary depending on your specific needs and is important to consider in addition to the cost of streaming solutions.

Conclusion

live streaming solution platforms

There are a variety of great live streaming platforms on the market today. However, the price can be a big differentiator. We think Dacast is a great and cost-competitive option for broadcasters. But if you’re not convinced, check out the free trial for 30-days:

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We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know about your setup, challenges, and how it’s all working out, in the comment section below! We’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as we can, and we’ll incorporate relevant ideas and insights into future articles.

For regular tips on live streaming and exclusive offers, you can join the Dacast LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your broadcasts!

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