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

By Max Wilbert

26 Min Read

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Max Wilbert

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

    Video streaming continues to increase in popularity, with more than 63% of people aged 18-34 watching online video streams regularly. With the continued rise in online video streaming, it makes sense for your business to start producing and streaming video content. 

    Video content is powerful. Using videos on your website can increase your search traffic by 41%. The video makes purchases on your website 1.6x more likely

    There is no denying that video is a powerful marketing and connection tool, but how much does it cost to start streaming content? This is an important question, as you need to ensure that it makes financial sense for your business to start producing video content. 

    Here at Dacast, we understand there are many factors to consider to figure out how much it will cost you to start streaming video content and to continue to do so. 

    Today, we will start by looking at what it costs to work with a video streaming service. We’ll even compare a few top video streaming service providers so you can get a better idea of the costs associated with video streaming and hosting. 

    Then, we will wrap things up by looking at the other costs associated with video streaming, such as equipment and other professional services you will need. 

    Let’s get started so you can figure out what type of budget you need to start video streaming today!

    We’ll be Covering:

    • Creating a Professional Streaming Experience
    • 3 Major Factors in Video Streaming Costs
      • Streaming Server Costs
      • Live Streaming Equipment Costs
      • Professional Services and Additional Costs
    • Conclusion

    Creating a Professional Streaming Experience

    dacast online video platform
    Live streaming costs should be factored into 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: 
        • Domain restrictions
        • Geographic Restrictions
        • AES encryption
        • Digital rights management
        • Password protection 
    • 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 vidoe 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 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 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 that want to create professional-grade streams for audiences of any size.

    Pricing plans with Dacast include four packages:

    • Starter: $39/month (billed annually)
      • Ideal for newcomers 
      • 1,000 TB of bandwidth 
      • 50 GB of storage per month
    • Event: $63 per month (or $750/year)
      • Ideal for organizations that would rather not sign a contract and want to purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event
      • 6 TB of bandwidth upfront
      • 50 GB of storage
      • Additional data and storage can be added as needed
    • Scale: $188/month (billed annually)
    • Custom: Custom-priced
      • Built for enterprises with high volume streaming needs
      • Contact Dacast for a custom plan tailored to your needs

    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-min response time).

    The three pricing tiers include:

    • Starter
      • 50 to 200 videos
      • Up to 100,000 plays and 2-5 users
    • Professional
      • Unlimited videos
      • 100,000+ plays
      • No overages plays
      • 10 users
    • Enterprise
      • Unlimited videos
      • 100,000+ plays
      • No overages plays
      • 10+ users
      • Unlimited upload
      • Analytics-only users

    Brightcove’s pricing is no longer posted, but plans include basic video marketing tools and 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 Cloud Video

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

    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.

    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 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: $99/month
      • 100 viewer hours
      • 5 channels
      • 1 TB of video storage
    • Gold: $499/month
      • 2,000 viewer hours
      • 10 channels
      • 2 TB of video storage
    • Platinum: $999/month
      • 5,000 viewer hours
      • 20 channels
      • 5 TB video storage
    • Custom: Custom-priced
      • Totally custom-built
      • Please contact IBM Cloud video for custom plan pricing.

    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
      • Live streaming and VOD services
      • Built for professional broadcasting
    • Vimeo Enterprise: Custom-priced  
      • Please contact Vimeo for custom pricing information
      • Includes white-label streaming, monetization, and video APIs
      • 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 a Vimeo relationship
      • Includes 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.

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

    • Basic: $99/month and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p
    • One Month Event: $149 one-time purchase and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours also at 720p
    • Plus: $499/month and includes 150 hours of live streaming and 7,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p

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

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

    • Basic: $175/month + $195/month for each additional instance 
    • One Month Event: $295/month + $295/month for each additional instance 
    • Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high-volume enterprise 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 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. In order 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 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
      • Very limited in terms of functionality
      • A good option for those who are new to broadcasting
    • Basic: $20/month (billed annually) or $25/month (billed monthly)
      • Access some advanced streaming features (unlimited streaming, brand customization, graphic overlays, simulcasting, and stream recording)
      • 10 on-screen participants
      • 4 hours of stream recording
      • 3 multistreaming destinations
    • Professional: $39/month (billed annually) or $49/month (billed monthly)
      • Same features as Basic plan plus full HD streaming and audio recording
      • 10 on-screen participants
      • 8 hours of stream recording
      • 8 multistreaming destinations
    • Enterprise: Custom-priced
      • For broadcasters with more significant streaming needs
      • Interested broadcasters can reach out to StreamYard directly for a quote

    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
      • 5 hours of video storage
      • 100 hours of video streaming per month
      • No one-on-one support
    • Pro: $14.99/month
      • 50 hours of video storage
      • Unlimited hours of video streaming 
      • One-on-one support via online chat and email
    • Enterprise: Custom-priced
      • 25,000 hours of video storage
      • Unlimited hours of video streaming 
      • One-on-one support via phone, online chat, and email
      • Access to many advanced streaming features

    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 live 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)
      • 500 GB of VOD storage 
      • 4 simultaneous streams
      • 300 GB of encoding
      • Additional storage available $0.10/GB
    • Team: $499/month (billed monthly) or $399/month (billed annually)
      • 2,000 GB of storage
      • 7 simultaneous streams
      • 1000 GB of encoding
      • Additional storage is available for $0.09/GB
    • Business: $999/month (billed monthly) or $799/month (billed annually)
      • 5,000 GB of storage
      • 12 simultaneous streams
      • 3000 GB of encoding
      • Additional storage is available for $0.08/GB
    • Enterprise: custom-priced
      • Available for broadcasters with larger streaming needs

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

    Hippo Video

    hippo video hosting platform
    Hippo Video has a fairly 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:

    • Sales
      • Pro: $30/month; 2 GB file size limit; 60 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth 
      • Growth: $48/month; 3 GB file size limit; 120 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Enterprise: $79/month; contact Hippo Video to learn more
    • Marketing
      • Starter: $23/month; 1 GB file size limit; 30 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Pro: $49/month; 2 GB file size limit; 60 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth 
      • Growth: $99/month; 3 GB file size limit; 120 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
    • Support
      • Starter: $10/month; 1 GB file size limit; 30 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Pro: $29/month; 2 GB file size limit; 60 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Growth: $49/month; 3 GB file size limit; 120 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
    • Team Communications
      • Starter: $7/month; 1 GB file size limit; 30 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Pro: $15/month; 2 GB file size limit; 60 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
      • Growth: $23/month; 3 GB file size limit; 120 minute video length limit; white-label streaming; 200GB of bandwidth
    • Other Solutions
      • Education: Free to $9/month OR $1/user
      • Personalization: Starting at $109/month + fees
      • Recorder API: Contact Hippo Video for a custom quote

    Hippo Video offers many different types of packages. Their video streaming server costs vary from meager rates too 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 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 you can tell, video streaming costs vary greatly based on the situation. Some broadcasters can get away with investing hundreds of dollars (or less) on their streaming needs, while others need to invest thousands.

    There are a variety of great live streaming platforms on the market today. They vary significantly in terms of pricing and features.

    Dacast is an excellent option for broadcasters who are looking for a powerful solution to host their streams. We offer a 14-day risk-free trial so that you can try our platform yourself. Simply create a Dacast account to start your trial. No credit card or binding contracts are required.

    Get started for free.

    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 LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your broadcasts!

    author avatar

    Max Wilbert

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

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