Video Streaming Costs Breakdown: How Much Does it Cost to Stream?

video streaming costs

Video streaming is now an integral part of our culture. Today, 1.8 billion, or 17% of the world’s population, have a subscription for video streaming via their internet connection. This is expected to increase to 20.7% by 2027.

Video demand is high, and video content is powerful. Enabling video streaming on your website can increase search traffic by 41%. And a website’s video streaming service can increase purchases on your website by 1.6x. With video streaming being a powerful marketing and connection tool, the natural question becomes: how much does it cost to start streaming video content on a website?

We break down the costs and provide you with a picture of the actual costs of working with a video streaming service. We also compare some of the top video streaming platforms. We then finalize with a look at the other costs associated with video streaming like equipment and professional services. By the end, you’ll have a stronger, more lucid understanding of the total benefits and costs of video streaming.

Creating a Professional Streaming Experience

dacast online video platform

Live streaming costs should be factored into manage costs of every broadcasting solution.

Video content can help you build a sense of community around your brand, market your products, communicate with shareholders, directly generate revenue, and more. For video content to work for your business, you need to use the right approach for hosting your content.

Many businesses use free video hosting platforms to get started with video content. The most significant advantage of working with a free platform is that it doesn’t involve any upfront costs to use the platform.

Free platforms are not without drawbacks. The way you can use a free video hosting platform is usually very limited, and several factors are outside of your control, such as:

  • Branding
  • Video player controls
  • Embed options
  • Privacy settings
  • Advertising

The platform’s branding is central to free platforms, not your own. The platform’s watermark and branding are all over the page, not your branding.

You don’t have control over how the video player is set up, the embed options, or even the privacy settings. You don’t control who or what is advertised next to your content, as most free platforms make money monetarily.

Free video streaming platforms give you control over privacy, security, monetization, and even analytics.

You need to work with a paid video hosting platform to produce video content with fewer restrictions and more freedom.

There are some significant benefits of working with a paid video streaming service:

  • Branding control: Change the video player’s colors to match your branding. Add your watermark. Put your brand front and center.
  • Engagement control: Keep viewers engaged with playlists and watch the following recommendations based on your content and website.
  • Overlays: Add clickable call-to-action buttons to your videos, directing viewers towards actions you want them to take, such as buying a product, leaving a review, or signing up for your email list.
  • Monetization options: Make money with your content. Choose an advertising network to work with, and run ads. Charge a subscription fee to access your content. Offer pay-per-view tickets for specific purchases.
  • Privacy control: Some content you want open access to, other content you want to keep more private. For example, you need privacy controls if you are charging money for content. Paid video streaming services offer a range of privacy controls, such as:
  • Analytics: Videos can be a powerful tool for your business, especially if you can analyze the analytics of your video content and use that information to move your content strategy forward. Access to detailed analytics can be compelling.
  • No content restrictions: With paid platforms, you can show whatever content you want to your viewers. You control what is acceptable and what isn’t for your viewers.

As a professional broadcaster, we recommend you avoid free video hosting platforms and instead work with a paid video hosting service that can offer you benefits you can’t get with a free platform.

Paying for streaming costs gives you greater control over your content and allows you access to professional-grade streaming tools. At Dacast, we highly recommend a paid video hosting solution over a free one for a professional experience.

3 Major Factors in Video Streaming Costs

Several factors contribute to the cost of streaming, and ultimately, your streaming setup will be determined by your specific needs and goals.

The three main factors to consider are streaming server costs, live streaming server cost and equipment prices, and professional service costs.

Let’s break down each of these factors to identify the online streaming costs.

1. Streaming Server Costs

Various factors determine the cost of streaming solutions. The two most significant factors are bandwidth and features.

Bandwidth 

Bandwidth is a measurement of how much information you send and receive. Most online video platforms charge based on how much bandwidth you use.

The amount of bandwidth you use is based on two different factors:

  • How much content do you have on your website
  • How many people are watching that content

Amount of Content 

For example, if you only have one video on your website, and it only gets about 1-5 watches per day, you send minimal information or a small amount of bandwidth.

On the other hand, if you have 100 videos that get five views a day, you would send 100X the amount of data as if you had one video with the same number of views; thus, you would need more bandwidth.

Viewership

How many people watch your content also impacts overall value of your bandwidth. Your bandwidth needs will be much higher if you get a hundred video views per day versus 10,000 video views per day.

Essentially, the more people watching your videos, the more information sent, and the more bandwidth you need to pay for.

Some providers offer unlimited bandwidth; however, those plans often come at a premium price, which is why paying for set bandwidth usage is the method we suggest you go with.

Features

The second most significant factor that impacts the cost of streaming solutions is what types of features you need access to. Some streaming services offer tiered plans, with access to more advanced features for higher-paying programs.

Some streaming services offer a limited number of professional features, and others provide numerous features. The key is to find a streaming service provider that offers the parts you need at a price point your business can afford.

Here is a quick list of various features that you may want access to:

  • Customizable HTML5 video player
  • API video access
  • Monetization options
  • Advanced privacy features
  • China VOD and live streaming
  • Multistreaming capabilities
  • Integrated chat features
  • Advanced analytics

The key is to figure out what features your business needs and to find a provider that offers those features.

Let’s examine live streaming pricing for a few top video streaming solutions, including Dacast, Brightcove, IBM Cloud Video, Livestream, and more. All of these are capable, professional-grade platforms. However, pricing and functionality vary widely.

Dacast

live streaming solution

Dacast offers security features on all plans, including password protection and encryption.

Dacast delivers high-quality streaming worldwide at very competitive pricing. Dacast is located in San Francisco, with offices around the world. Our unified streaming solution is an excellent option for broadcasters who want to create professional-grade streams for audiences of any size.

Pricing plans with Dacast include four packages:

  • Starter: $39/month (billed annually)
  • Event: $63 per month (or $750/year)
  • Scale$165/month (billed annually)
  • Custom: Custom-priced

Interested broadcasters can contact Dacast directly to learn more about any of these plans. Dacast offers video streaming server costs at various price points to meet the needs of various businesses.

Brightcove

brightcove live streaming platform dashboard

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

Brightcove offers three pricing plan levels that target higher-end clients.

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-minute response time).

The three pricing tiers include:

  • Starter
  • Professional
  • Enterprise

Brightcove’s pricing is no longer posted, but plans include basic video marketing tools and data analytics with SD streaming quality for unlimited viewers

If you want to understand fully how much it costs to stream a video with Brightcove, you need to reach out to their sales department.

IBM Video Streaming

ibm cloud video Live Streaming Solution

IBM is primarily a live video streaming solution. However, it does provide hosting for previous streams.

IBM Video Streaming is the platform formerly known as IBM Cloud Video. 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.

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 Video Streaming. Paid accounts remove advertising and grant access to advanced features. Enterprise accounts allow for complete custom branding and offer analytics, multiple live channels, content syndication, and more.

IBM pricing plans range from $99 to $999 per month and include the following:

  • Silver: $129/month
  • Gold$649/month
  • Platinum$1,299/month

IBM Cloud Video offers a range of video streaming server costs based on the type of plan you select; they offer plans for both small and larger enterprises.

Vimeo Livestream

Vimeo live Streaming Solution

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

In 2017, Vimeo acquired Livestream and launched its live streaming service, Vimeo Live. Previously, Livestream was a company that offered live streaming and video hosting solutions.  Since the acquisition, the two companies have merged their services.

Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:

  • Vimeo Premium: $75/month
  • Vimeo Enterprise: Custom-priced
  • Vimeo OTT

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

Wowza

wowza video platform

Wowza is a streaming platform for business-critical applications.

Wowza Streaming Cloud is feature-rich and provides a customizable platform for broadcasters of all sorts.

Wowza Video offers three different pricing plans and services. Within Live Event Pricing, monthly plans include:

  • Pay As You Go: $25/month and includes use of any or all platform features, start building and scale as needed and all usage billed separately
  • One Month of Streaming: $149 one-time purchase and includes 15 hours of live streaming and 500 viewing hours also at 720p
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing and includes annual plans, discount rates on hours and 247 real-time support

All of these Live Event plans include complete brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and UHD and HD streaming

Wowza Streaming Engine has its own pricing plan packages. These professional-grade wowza streaming engine plans are billed annually and include:

  • One Month of Streaming: $295 and $295/month for each additional instance
  • Basic Monthly: $195/month + $195/month for each additional instance
  • Plans built for your needs: Contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high-volume custom solutions

Wowza offers various pricing plans for streaming server costs based on your individual streaming needs.

Kaltura

kaltura video platform

Kaltura offers a wide array of video solutions to users from around the globe.

Kaltura is an open-source solution offering customized streaming plans for various use cases.

These custom video hosting pricing plans offer a pay-as-you-go streaming structure and set credit allotments to redeem for bandwidth and feature integrations. Pay-as-you-go packages are billed monthly, and more extensive plans are billed annually. Credits can be purchased in $6000 increments and are discounted when you spend a larger amount.

The credit packages are structured as the following table as follows:

  • 10% discount on $6000 in credits, making the annual payment $5400
  • 12% discount on $12,000 in credits, making the annual payment $10,650
  • 20% discount on $24,000 in credits, making the annual payment $19,200
  • 25% discount on $60,000 in credits, making the annual payment $45,000
  • 30% discount on $90,000 in credits, making the annual payment $63,000
  • 35% discount on $120,000 in credits, making the annual payment $78,00

For annual credit allotments of $120,000 or more, broadcasters can contact the Kaltura sales team for custom plans.

Setup costs are built into each unique video hosting pricing plan. Kaltura also offers a free trial, so you can try the platform before you make any sort of commitment.

Kaltura’s video streaming server costs depend upon how many credits you purchase and use. To get a discount on credits, you must spend big.

StreamYard

streamyard live streaming platform

StreamYard specializes in in-browser live streaming.

StreamYard is an in-browser streaming and storage service. As the name implies, it operates entirely in-browser as opposed to the other platforms that work with a downloaded app or software.

StreamYard’s top features include multistreaming, chroma-keying, graphic overlays, reliable support, screen sharing, and various video layout templates.

This platform offers four pricing plans for broadcasters with a variety of budgets. Let’s take a look at each of the plans.

  • Free: Free to use
  • Basic: $20/month (billed annually) or $25/month (billed monthly)
  • Professional: $39/month (billed annually) or $49/month (billed monthly)
  • Enterprise: Custom-priced

StreamYard offers a free video streaming server plan with limited functionality and affordable basic and professional streaming plans for businesses looking for a simple in-browser streaming solution.

Panopto

panopto video platform

Panopto is a great video hosting option for internal streaming.

Panopto is a streaming solution that is focused on education and corporate training. This platform includes live streaming, video management, stream recording, video organization, intelligent search, innovative integrations, mobile streaming, and more.

Panopto is designed for streaming to an internal audience. It offers three streaming pricing plans, including:

  • Basic: Free
  • Pro: $14.99/month
  • Enterprise: Custom-priced

Contact Panopto for a free trial and quote for an Enterprise streaming plan. Panopto offers a free plan, an affordable pro plan for smaller enterprises, and a custom enterprise plan for larger organizations.

StreamShark

streamshark live streaming platform

StreamShark offers some cutting-edge video hosting tools.

StreamShark is another powerful platform that offers both live events and on-demand video streaming.

StreamShark’s top features include 360 live streaming, SSO security, customized branding, peer-to-peer streaming, multistreaming, and encoder management.

StreamShark’s pricing plans include:

  • Standard: $199/month (billed monthly) or $159/month (billed annually)
  • Enterprise: custom-priced

StreamShark’s video streaming server costs are designed for larger enterprises with broadcasting needs.

Hippo Video

hippo video hosting platform

Hippo Video has simplified its once complex pricing system.

Hippo Video is a streaming service that offers a wide variety of professional streaming solutions with many features. These features include video analytics, stream recording, editing tools, video API, email, template builder, and brand customization.

Hippo Video has a wide variety of pricing plans for different users. These include:

  • Free: $0/month/user/annually
  • Teams: $60/month/user/annually
  • Enterprise: $80/month/user/annually

Hippo Video offers many different types of packages. Their video streaming server costs vary from meager rates to much higher monthly rates, which is great for a broadcaster who wants a video hosting solution they can grow with.

2. Live Streaming Equipment Prices

There are several pieces of equipment that you’ll need for a professional live-streaming setup. These include:

  • One or more cameras (ranging from webcam to professional camcorder)
  • A good desktop computer or laptop
  • Capture cards or devices
  • Audio capture equipment
  • Lighting equipment, greenscreens, backdrops, etc. (optional)

The cost of live streaming equipment varies depending on how complex a streaming setup you need to reach your online broadcasting goals.

For example, the equipment will be very cheap if you have a smartphone and only need to produce a simple stream. You can probably even use things that you already have.

However, most people want to upgrade to a better mic and video camera. A basic setup can start at just a couple hundred dollars—mid-range streaming costs in the several thousand dollars range.

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

3. Professional Services and Additional Costs

The final category of costs to consider is the cost of professional services. This may include building a website, creating a video portal, assisting in developing mobile apps, and other similar tasks.

Here at Dacast, we offer various professional services to broadcasters at affordable prices.

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

Conclusion

As we’ve explored, video streaming costs vary based on needs. Many factors including live events, simultaneous viewers, video quality and more are all worth considering when comparing solutions. For the most cost effective most-effective solution, you should choose the platform service company and tier most suitable to your needs.

Dacast is an excellent option for broadcasters and businesses looking for a powerful, complete solution. With Dacast, you can set up and start hosting your live stream in high-definition quickly and easily. Dacast’s professional-grade platform is customizable and can be tailored to any need.

Fortunately, you can try Dacast completely free. Sign up today and test drive Dacast’s video streaming solution for a full 14 days.

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

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

Max Wilbert

Max Wilbert is a passionate writer, live streaming practitioner, and has strong expertise in the video streaming industry.