Video Streaming Costs Breakdown: How Much Does it Cost to Stream?
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 Mslive, 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!
Creating a Professional Streaming Experience
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:
- Video player controls
- Embed options
- Privacy settings
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:
1. Domain restrictions
2. Geographic Restrictions
3. AES encryption
4. Digital rights management
5. 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 Mslive, 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 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:
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.
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.
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 Mslive, Brightcove, IBM Cloud Video, Livestream, and more. All of these are capable, professional-grade platforms. However, pricing and functionality vary widely.
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 Mslive, 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.
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.
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