Livestreaming Platform Comparison: What You Need to Know

Researching a live streaming platform comparison can be overwhelming, as there are many factors to keep in mind to find the best solution for you or your organization. You want a live streaming service that can grow and scale with your needs, has all the features you want, and won’t break your budget.

Important features for live streaming like privacy, distribution, and end-user features help define the content you stream and the audience that watches your live events. Businesses looking to brand their content, for instance, will need the ability to white-label web players and remove a platform’s logo from their page. For smaller organizations and businesses, users tend to bump up against platform ads on their page. Fortunately, a few of the below platforms offer an ad-free player, and ad-free user experience, at any level of subscription.

Storage, Privacy, Tools, and Support

Depending on your viewership and the frequency of your events, a bandwidth cap can be a tremendous hindrance; paying more money for a popular event can take a bite out of your streaming budget and revenue. Not every platform will charge users for high viewership or streaming time. Livestream, for example, offers unlimited streaming bandwidth for all users, and never caps the number of viewers who can watch your broadcast in real time.

[GETTING STARTED WITH LIVE VIDEO? DOWNLOAD THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVESTREAMING EVENTS]

Looking for help getting started, or ongoing support during your live events? Many live streaming platforms offer support in some form or another, whether it’s a live chat, community forums, or one-on-one onboarding. More often than not, customer support is a paid feature. How much you’ll have to pay, of course, depends on the platform and its pricing structure.

The ability to customize how your content is delivered and how it can help to grow your business or organization is paramount for so many producers. Most of the platforms detailed here have their own proprietary web-player, but what if you want to integrate that player into a custom app? For that, you’ll need a public API: programmatic access to the live streaming platform that allows your developer to customize the experience as you see fit. Livestream Enterprise customers have access to a public API that offers backend code for seamless app-integration, including an HTML5 player that is optimized for mobile traffic.

Monetization and Donations

Live events are an excellent way to increase the visibility of your brand, and they can also be a tremendous source of revenue. Sports teams, educational institutions, online instructors, and business-to-business communities are just a few examples of the organizations using Livestream’s pay-per-view and subscription add-ons. Enterprise users have access to Vimeo’s OTT Live platform, which makes it easy to grow revenue with subscriptions, PPV, and lead capture. Want to keep your event free and accessible, but still bring in revenue? Livestream has a donations feature that can be configured on an event-by-event basis, so you can choose the “ticket price” of each stream individually.

Livestream’s Watch page is a destination in and of itself, averaging over 300K unique views per month. Many users find an uptick in traffic from their presence on the watch page, but Livestream also has an “audience booster” add-on that guarantees unique views on your event at a price that fits your organization’s budget.

Live streaming Platform Comparison: Pricing

Livestream pricing is available on a month-to-month or annual basis, and all levels offer video-on-demand archiving. A Livestream Premium plan costs $75/month with a one-year commitment, or $199 month-to-month. This plan unlocks our live player embed and the power to stream to platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live, as well as robust analytics, email support, and access to our Studio software.

Livestream also offers a custom Enterprise solution that includes advanced privacy features like white-labeling and password protection, plus monetization options like pay-per-view and OTT. Enterprise plans include 7-day U.S.-based customer support, available by phone or email seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Streamshark.io provides a streaming infrastructure for customers with existing encoding hardware and software, with a three-tiered pricing system dependent on frequency and data usage. The “Lite” plan includes support for three simultaneous streams, viewer analytics, and a customizable player for $50 per month, but this fee does not include the $.12/GB data overages when users exceed their $50 in “credits” provided by the subscription fee. Upgrading to a “Pro” plan doubles the monthly credit allotment, drops the price-per-GB to $.10, doubles the allowance of simultaneous streams, and provides customers with privacy control and Google analytics integration. For business-class customers, a $250/month “Biz” plan provides the aforementioned features, decreases the bandwidth cost to $.09/GB, supports up to 15 simultaneous streams, and includes support and account management.

If your workflow is heavily-based on media management and transcoding, the hardware-agnostic platform Wowza is based on a handful of classic features – an HTML5 player, mobile integration, embedding ability – but producers will need their own pre-existing streaming infrastructure for live event broadcasts. An entry-level, pay-as-you go plan at $95 per “instance” works for one-off events, but producers looking to broadcast frequent or regularly scheduled events would do better to invest in the $65/month plan. An unlimited option, targeted toward the consistent event producer, is available for a one-time fee $1995, and includes a year of maintenance and support.

Ustream, purchased by IBM in early 2016, offers entry-level subscriptions starting at around $99/month, nearly twice the cost of competing platforms. For a “Pro Plan” subscription, expect to pay anywhere from $99 to $999 a month, depending on how frequently you use the platform. Unlike unlimited streaming platforms, Ustream’s subscription model is based on streaming and viewer hours. If your event runs longer than expected or is more popular than you anticipated, there will likely be an additional fee.

For larger organizations holding town hall meetings or looking to promote a new product announcement, these overages can be an unwelcome – and costly – surprise. Like many solutions, multi-quality streaming, social media integration, and Apple TV/Roku are supported. However, reaching the support department company recently purchased by a multinational corporation can be a little tricky.

A premium DaCast subscription, starting at $360/month, includes many of the same popular features: an ad-free player, customer support, and multi-bitrate streaming. Producers have the option of a monthly subscription, or per event pricing, which is great for one-off broadcasts. That said, data usage charges and overage fees can be a hindrance for customers looking to stream content on a regular basis.

Houses of Worship are fast becoming one of the largest subscriber groups for live streaming platforms. To meet this increasing demand, niche providers have begun to offer specific plans targeted at house of worship clients. Two companies, StreamingChurch and ChurchStreaming.tv, have a similar market, but wildly varying features. While both services offer ad-free platforms, only ChurchStreaming.tv provides customer support and does not charge bandwidth overages.

[LEARN MORE ABOUT HOUSE OF WORSHIP STREAMING HERE]

Gamer favorite Twitch.tv, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, has dominated the world of live video game streaming since its launch in 2011. Free users have access to Twitch’s screen-sharing software, but an ad-free experience and chat customization will require an upgrade to Twitch Turbo. Since Twitch is hardware-agnostic, using external capture devices and cameras is supported, but be prepared to troubleshoot your own workflow.

Even global media companies like Facebook and YouTube have thrown their hats into the live video ring, with recently released initiatives Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Both platforms count ease-of-use as a major draw, but neither company offers onboarding or customer support. While YouTube’s Creator Studio will relay your live broadcast directly to a YouTube page, the free service almost certainly guarantees that viewers will have to watch pre-roll ads before your content. Enterprise-level customers can enjoy an ad-free experience, but the six-figure annual price tag is a little steep for some companies. YouTube Live users can embed their live player, but only after activating “adsense,” which lets YouTube run pre-and-mid-roll ads during your live broadcast.

Facebook Live, which streams directly to your Facebook page, is free of charge. But with future ad-rolls and branding on the player, Facebook Live for Livestream is a great ad-free alternative. Facebook Live for Livestream lets producers stream indefinitely to both platforms at the same time.

Users can stream to Facebook Live with their mobile devices using the app, but if you are looking for higher production value consider the Mevo camera, which allows users to cut between multiple shots and stream to their page in 720p.

Live streaming Platform Comparison: Why Choose Livestream?

Livestream is the only live video end-to-end solution. The Livestream platform offers unlimited streaming service, no ads, top-notch customer support, syndication, API, as well as easily paired products (like the Mevo or Studio 4K switcher) and professional Production Services.

We believe Livestream is the best platform for organizations of any size to manage their live video, but you need to decide for yourself. Based on what we’ve heard from customers who’ve switched to our platform, we created this live streaming platform comparison guide with descriptions of the features from each brand including pricing info, viewer experience, and ease of set-up.

Livestream counts Spotify, The Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Herrera, and many other major enterprise brands among its 10,000 active customers, but you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to harness the power of this versatile platform. Livestream also works with Houses of Worship, educational organizations, local governments, startups, cultural organizations, and meetups.

Streaming to Livestream is simple: users can stream directly to their accounts with Producer software, our Studio software and hardware solution, the Mevo live event camera from Livestream, or a special plugin via the Newtek Tricaster.

Businesses and organizations at every level are directing more attention and resources to live streaming, and consumers have been responding in kind. 2016 has brought a dramatic increase in live streaming viewership across smart TV, desktop, and mobile devices. Whether your team is new to live video streaming, or looking to improve their existing outreach with more live events, with the right network and plenty of bandwidth, you’ll reach your biggest audience yet in no time!

Using an eCDN for Corporate Communications

Imagine delivering a flawless, broadcast-quality live video message from your executive team, or a live training event, to all of your employees, on any device, wherever they are, without clogging your network bandwidth. Can your corporate network support live events for large audiences without creating a bandwidth bottleneck or crashing? This is something organizations must find solutions for when planning internal live broadcasts to ensure high-quality streaming for no-fail events.

Livestream’s new Peer-to-Peer Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) solves for these issues by supporting an HD-quality seamless live viewing experience while minimizing the stress on your corporate network, reducing bandwidth consumption and cost, and maintaining privacy and security regulations.

Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications empowers IT and communications teams to deliver a flawless streaming video event, without risking network health or compromising critical business functions.

What is eCDN?

An eCDN is an enterprise content delivery network, which is one way for companies to distribute content within their corporate network, creating a safety net for their internal bandwidth pipe.

A peer-to-peer eCDN helps to avoid network bottlenecks that occur when a large number of concurrent viewers in one office are watching the same content, such as a live broadcast. Instead of individual employee devices all pinging a single server to access a stream, a P2P eCDN reduces the amount of bandwidth needed coming from the external server. Instead, Livestream’s eCDN uses the bandwidth inside the company, redistributing the requests to devices within the LAN, improving stream quality and reducing the bandwidth load on a company’s internal network.

How Video Is Driving Corporate Communications Trends

Video is the fastest and easiest way to learn and retain information. Streaming your internal and all hands meetings has become de rigueur at large companies, but these in-demand, data-heavy streams can have massive network implications.

Today video is being used in organizations for a variety of purposes:
• Employee training and product demos
• All hands or town halls
• Internal HR events and panels

Streaming company-wide meetings is an effective way to keep employees engaged. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, engaged employees report 31% higher productivity and 37% higher sales. Conversely, the Dale Carnegie Institute reports that businesses with disengaged employees lose $11b annually.

This engagement data is driving demand for access to video in the workplace: according to Cisco, global business IP traffic is set to grow 21% from 2015 to 2021, which will require updated infrastructure to handle the load.

To avoid additional expenses or potential network failures, many corporations are considering eCDNs to meet these new challenges.

Traditional content delivery vs. Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications

In a traditional content delivery setup, viewers connect to a server to obtain the streaming video they have requested. This server can either be inside the company or external – an example would be video content cached and delivered from a Cloud provider. Both of these setups have their limitations.

If everyone in the company tries to connect to a single server at the headquarters, the connections will quickly become saturated and the server will likely crash as it was not meant to handle thousands of simultaneous requests for data-heavy video.

If the server is in the cloud, companies often have significant limitations when it comes to connecting to the internet. They generally have a fixed capacity when it comes to external bandwidth, and networks are often not dimensioned for a massive amount of data requests from outside their network. Firewalls can further delay external calls, creating huge bottlenecks.

This makes streaming live video within the enterprise network very difficult. There are several means of mitigating this problem, and these solutions are collectively known as “eCDN.”

Solution 1: Install caching servers within the company network at each site.

Installing caching servers allows you to place a copy of the video close to your viewers to avoid the congestion of large numbers of requests to a single server. The challenge is this solution requires both significant CAPEX (cash) and OPEX (operating expenses). Servers are expensive, and installing and maintaining them requires significant expertise and dedicated personnel. In addition to regular maintenance, you’ll also need a dedicated IT team at each site to maintain servers to guarantee no-fail live streams.

Solution 2: Use an internal multicasting tool.

A multicasting tool broadcasts content en masse to every computer on the network. This requires specific equipment that supports multicast, and may also necessitate changing workstation software to be able to support multicast streams. This is not the “typical” streaming setup so it can require additional configuration in addition to this CAPEX.

Solution 3: Legacy P2P solutions.

Peer-to-peer within company networks has existed for many years. The principle of P2P is to use the abundant bandwidth within the enterprise network. However, the solutions on the market have had several major drawbacks: at the very least they have required users to install a plugin in their browsers or an app. Some providers even require companies to change their entire video stack and use a special, non-standard streaming protocol.

Solution 4: Livestream’s peer-to-peer based eCDN

Our eCDN distributes the stream with peer-to-peer networking, harnessing idle internal network bandwidth to more effectively distribute the stream. With Livestream, employees connect to the stream as they would in a typical video streaming setup. However, instead of getting the entire video directly from the server, their video player will also ask for segments of content from nearby co-workers viewing devices. This more efficiently distributes bandwidth requirements within your network, eliminating the risk of bottlenecks to the server, slow connections, and poor video quality.

Benefits of Livestream’s eCDN for Corporate Communications

Livestream’s peer-to-peer eCDN shares video across your intranet, utilizing a fraction of the bandwidth necessary from external servers. This allows you to stream high-quality video without interruption, without impacting your bandwidth or internal network.

Lower network costs
With our cloud-based eCDN, you’re not paying for higher capacity networks or any additional hardware.
Ease of use for employees
Using our eCDN does not require viewers to download additional plugins or software. They can still view your streaming video anywhere you would normally display that content. Additionally, since our eCDN is cloud-based, there is no installation cost or time spent.
Better quality streaming at scale
Viewers across the corporate network will experience better video quality and less buffering from using an eCDN.
7-day US-based support
Livestream Enterprise support experts are just a phone call away, any day of the week.

How eCDN works with your existing Livestream account

Many eCDNs work with desktop plug-ins or costly additional hardware or software. Unlike other peer-based eCDN solutions, Livestream requires no installation on workstations and no changes to your video workflow configuration. We use standard HTTP streaming formats and offer plug-and-play integrations for desktop.

Our technology is based on WebRTC, meaning connections are made directly through the browser and there is no workstation software to install, and no browser extensions or plugins for users to manage.

Livestream’s eCDN can be activated one time by your account manager and then can be toggled on and off within your Livestream dashboard to use as you see fit. There is no work or downloads required by the end user, and no additional hardware to purchase.

How do we set up your eCDN?
• First, we test the webRTC connections inside your network.
• Your account manager enables eCDN on your Livestream account and tests different devices on the same network. If you have multiple sites, we will test each site.
• Finally, Livestream will organize a global test with the company users and a test live video. After this, your eCDN is ready to stream.

Want to learn more? Existing Livestream customers can contact their Account Manager, or visit this page and complete a Custom request form