Live streaming is a real-time event that’s transmitted over the Internet and watched by an audience. It’s a new form of broadcasting, in that, live streams are delivered “as they happen” without anything being recorded or edited. The term was first used in 2001, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that video streaming took off. This is thanks to social media platforms where users share their daily lives, news events and more. Now there are even live streaming events about live streaming!
Best Web Hosting For Live Video Streaming
One third of our global screen time is spent watching videos. People retain information much better from a video than from a text with still images. A majority of executives prefer acquiring information via video rather than through reading text.
At this point in time, anybody communicating online needs to consider a video strategy. There is simply no better way to build audience engagement.
Whether you are a small business looking to use video messaging to promote your products and services or a content producer whose videos are the end product, you have to choose the hosting platform that is right for you.
In this article, we will look at what video hosting is and what makes it different from regular hosting. We will break down the pros and cons of free video-sharing solutions and professional video-hosting providers. Then we will look at tools you can use to do it all yourself.
What Is Video Hosting?
There are a few different ways of consuming videos online. There is downloading, where you save the whole file on your computer or other device before watching it in a video player. There is streaming, where you start watching the video right away even as the video and audio data are still coming in. And then there is live streaming, where the video content streams from the producer’s camera to the users’ player software via a special live-streaming server.
In principle, sharing a video is simple. Your video is just a file in a format such as .MOV, .MPEG4, .AVI, or .WMV. You need to upload this file to a server that has a good connection to the internet. In order to embed the video on a web page to make it available for streaming, you will have to insert it into the page inside a video player.
There are several basic options for where to host your video:
- Free platforms
- Paid hosting providers
- Your own server
The free platforms are often ad-supported. They impose a lot of restrictions on how you can show your content. Some of the free platforms support themselves by selling paid subscriptions to a premium tier for creative professionals or businesses.
The paid video hosting providers give you more control over the quality of the video stream and the appearance of the player. Some of them specialize in digital marketing tools with powerful video analytics and lead-capture functionality. Others are more focused on providing an experience optimized for educational content or internal business communications. Many also include a choice of ways to monetize your video content, ad-based, pay-per-view, or via subscription.
The DIY route of storing your video content on your own server gives you maximum flexibility in terms of the content, quality, and delivery of your videos. But this power requires more technical know-how, even if there are a lot of software tools to help you manage a video server and analyze the usage data it generates.
Why Video Streaming Requires a Special Type of Hosting
Streaming your average video requires two orders of magnitude more data storage and network bandwidth than a web page that contains only text and a few still images. That is why you need a hosting plan that includes extra-large storage and bandwidth allocations if you want to host video content yourself.
In addition, the server’s storage-access speed and network interface have to be able to keep up the steady flow of data to a number of concurrent users. For this to work smoothly and predictably, you need to have access to the server’s full resources without worrying that some other processes running on the same machine will use up your computing power or your network connection. That is why DIY video hosting is not recommended on a shared-server hosting plan or even on a virtual public server. Note that many providers will even prohibit streaming on shared servers to avoid an overload of resources.Therefore, a dedicated server is the way to go.
Whenever a lot of data has to flow to the end-user in order for them to start enjoying content as is the case with video, the experience can quickly become unsatisfying if there is too much of a lag in the response. That is why video hosting is often combined with access to a content-delivery network (CDN). These mirror the video content at storage hubs around the world. That means the initial request can be served from a copy that is more local to the user, which helps reduce load time.
Free Streaming Video Hosting Solutions
There are quite a few places where you can upload videos for free. Your uploaded content can then be watched on the platform’s site or from within their app on mobile. You can also embed your videos on your web page within a player provided by the platform. There are not many limits to how many videos you can upload or to how many viewers can stream them.
The Major Players in Free Video Hosting
Google’s YouTube is the Goliath in this space. Every 60 seconds, 500 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube. Its 1.9 billion registered users watch more than 1 billion hours of videos a day. YouTube relies on ad revenue, of which it keeps 45%, the rest being passed on to the uploader. The latter has no control over the ads that appear before, after, or alongside their videos.
Founded a few months before YouTube, Vimeo positions itself as a solution for professional content creators and artists. It allows up to 8K video, the highest quality of all the free services. Its player is lauded for its clean look. Your content is never sandwiched between ads. Vimeo Basic is their free plan under which are restricted to a maximum file size of 500 MB and an upload limit of 500 MB/week. Pro plans start at $7/month.
Based in France, Dailymotion has, by virtue of its early media partners, leaned heavily towards news, music, and sports content. It makes up for a maximum file size of 2 GB and a maximum video length of 1 hour by allowing unlimited file uploads. They have a fairly minimalist player for embedding into your website, but they will play ads before, during and after your video. To start getting a cut of the ad revenue, you have to qualify as an Advanced partner.
The two companies with the biggest social-media mindshare in Western markets also let you upload unlimited numbers of videos. With their massive audiences and easy sharing features, they can be a good place for marketers to grow brand awareness. However, they have the lowest video quality of all the free options, and their commercial priorities dictate a rather unsatisfying user experience.
Pros and Cons
While they differ in their particulars, the free video-sharing platforms come with a similar set of pros and cons.
- Easy administration
- Broad device support
- No control over your raw viewing data
- Platform restricts your monetization options
- Corporate censors burying content or banning users
- Access not possible from certain regions
- Inescapable host branding
- Host control over video resolution
- Limited access options for coders (limited APIs)
All in all, you get what you pay for. When you are ready for more control, you can switch to one of the paid services without losing out on the social environment of the big free platforms, since a lot of the premium services also allow you to automatically cross-post your videos to YouTube and others.
Premium Streaming Video Hosts
There is a wide spectrum of plans from providers specializing in video hosting for businesses. Usually the players in this arena focus on specific markets or applications for digital video. Some of them offer free plans with minimal feature sets. In all cases, they deliver an ad-free experience and unbranded players.
Major Paid Video Hosting Solutions
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin with video hosting as part of its Premium and Professional plans starting at $9/month. It gives you unlimited storage and seamless integration into the WordPress editing environment. You get detailed statistics about individual video plays and overall viewership. Jetpack also comes with access to a content distribution network.
Brightcove is an enterprise video-content management platform designed to give companies the capability to serve high-quality video to massive audiences while plugging into the tools they already use for marketing automation, content management, and business analytics. They assign a dedicated support lead to each customer to help with set-up, integration, and advanced services. Plans start at $199/month.
JWPlayer is an affordable option with good integration into advertising networks. It delivers detailed play analytics and data-driven video recommendations. It runs an HTML5 player across all platforms and promises fast-loading videos optimized for each screen. It targets the dev-shop market with APIs and Software Development Kits for iOS and Android. Developers can start for free with an expanded set of features and a small storage allocation, while more robust hosting capacity starts as low as $10/month.
Wistia is a digital marketing company with a heavy focus on high-quality video communication. Its player is fully customizable. It includes a variety of different calls to action that can be embedded into videos for interactive experiences across devices. Its lead capture capabilities, A/B testing functions, and full-spectrum marketing analytics are geared towards maximizing brand reach. Its Pro plan is $99/month.
Uscreen offers monetization options that go beyond the usual model, such as bundles, lifetime access, and rentals. It allows customers to easily create their own branded video-streaming apps for mobile devices, PCs, and smart TVs. The platform combines behavioral analytics, smart marketing tools, and community features to boost engagement and maximize streaming revenue. Pricing starts at $49/month.
Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Videos on a Dedicated Server
What if you wanted to keep all of this video-hosting business completely under your purview. You already run your website and some backend software on a hosted server, so why not migrate all that to a dedicated server that has enough room and bandwidth for your videos?
If you are serving videos from your own server, you will be in direct possession of all the data about them: their actual viewership, in real time. You’ll be able to see where people connect from and when they abandon a video. If you require registration to start browsing and watching, then you will have data allowing you to discern your visitors’ preferences, or at least their patterns of browsing.
This is the gold mine the Googles, Facebooks, and Twitters of the world rely on to keep their services free. They sell this data to their advertisers. If you can take back control of your user data by running your own video server, some of that gold might stay with you.
As an independent video streamer, how realistic is monetizing the data you can collect? There are thousands of companies offering to help you get value out of that kind of data. It’s a field in constant evolution as algorithms, formats, and preferences keep changing. However, a lot of the companies that have the sharpest insights on the video-streaming market are the premium video-hosting providers mentioned above.
Your hosting package will cover most of the monthly outlay for an operational dedicated video server on top of the web and app servers you will need to run your business. Hosting packages vary in price depending on how much storage, network traffic, and computing power you sign up for. And when you make the calculation for streaming video, you will see that the totals can add up quickly.
For extra peace of mind, hosting companies and third-party developers offer many useful enhancements that also come at a cost:
- professional blogging-software plugins, eg. payments, monetization
- managed-server upgrades with automatic updates
- cloud mirroring or content-delivery network features
- higher security against malware and unauthorized entry
Video content can be entertaining, informative, inspiring. Brands can extend their reach by capturing the attention of would-be consumers through well-crafted spots that reinforce their identity. When placed on a website, video content has been shown to increase retention and improve conversion.
That is why every business should have a video-content creation strategy. Proper execution of the strategy will consume quite a few resources. The costs associated with making the videos produced available to the world are low in comparison. With a premium platform, the benefits from analyzing the data and leveraging advanced marketing tools should far outweigh the hosting costs.
In a scenario where you just need a few tutorials and demonstrations to showcase technical aspects of your products, it is possible to serve these short video files from your dedicated server without breaking the bank since they are not meant to be viewed on a large screen and therefore don’t need to be stored in high definition.
best video streaming server open source
PlayOn is a computer application that helps you to watch TV. It arranges streaming websites and media servers for easily store photos, music, and video.
You can stream shows from desktop, phone, or tablet.
It allows you to record and download videos as MP4.
Record episodes with just one mouse click.
The app can automatically skip the advertisement when playback video.
You can transfer the recording to your iPad, iPhone, and Android device.
Plex is a media server software that enables you to take care of the large size of media collections. The application allows you to play TV shows, movies, personal videos, and many more. This software helps you to share videos with your family.
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You can use it on Smart TVs, Android, Apple, and more.
It has various movies and shows to choose from.
This video server software streams your videos.
This Android media server provides a live DVR and TV.
The tool automatically syncs your media to mobile phones.
You can upload media files from your camera.
Stremio is a modern media server software that provides a solution for your video entertainment. It helps you to enjoy movies, live TV, and TV shows. This application can be easily used from any device.
It is one of the best DLNA server that allows you to organize your media content with ease.
You can use Stremio to watch content from addons.
It is open-source hence the code written using this tool can be edited.
The software allows you to watch video content easily.
Stremio can be used for smartphones, desktop PC, and tablets.
4) Emby Server
Emby Server is a media server tool that enables you to manage, video, music, and photo from one place. It automatically converts and streams any media so that you can play on any device.
You can quickly sign in to play the videos.
This media server for PC enables you to watch live TV.
The application enables you to manage content access for your children.
It automatically organizes personal media into rich displays.
Emby provides notification for any server activity.
You can manage the media access time limit without any hassle.
OSMC is open-source and free media player. It enables you to play media from your local network. This media server OS allows you to play videos from a USB stick.
It offers easy to use User Interface.
You can quickly install this software.
It is one of the best free media server that provides software updates on a regular basis.
You can manage any media files.
The supported platform is Linux.
Kodi is free to use a player that is specially designed to play movies. This app offers an interactive full-screen interface. It is one of the best Windows 10 media server that supports a wide variety of media formats like MIDI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4.
It can be run on wide verities of devices, including desktop PC, Mobile, tablet, etc.
Users can play media files from the network and your PC.
This app can import browse and play collections of movies with ease.
It enables you to change the appearance of the player completely.
This tool offers TV shows library that supports seasons and episodes
Jellyfin is free media software. It helps you to stream any media from your server. This application allows you to collect and manages videos.
You can collect your TV shows and organize by season.
It enables you to enjoy your music party with ease.
You can watch live TV.
It can automatically record your TV.
You can store media files securely.
Subsonic is a personal media streamer. It enables you to listen to music from any browser. The application supports MP3, AAC, and OGG audio-video format.
Text search tool to find tracks quickly.
It allows you to assign comments and ratings to albums.
This server media center helps you to create a playlist and share it with other people.
You can add, remove, repeat, and rearrange audio files.
This application is available in 28+ languages.
It contains more than 30 different themes.
Subsonic enables you to configure the user interface.
You can stream audio directly from your mobile phone.
9) Media Portal
Media Portal is a tool that enables you to connect PC directly to your TV and displays movies, TV series, and photo. It allows you to use remote to control your Home theater PC.
You can listen to radio and music.
It enables you to check the news, weather, and more.
Media Portal can be accessed from the mobile device or web.
The software can be used to schedule and record live TV.
You can experience media on LCD, plasma, or projector.
Mezzmo is a media server software for streaming TV shows, movies, music, and photos. The tool is easy to use as well as highly configurable. It works with all popular devices like browser, TV, home theater systems, and more.
It provides metadata details like artwork, artists, titles, and more.
The tool allows you to select the audio language.
It enables you to organize your media collection with ease.
Mezzmo provides full playback control, including play, stop, pause, seek, and more.