Top 5 Live Streaming Platforms: Everything You Need to Know [2020 Update]

When it comes to live video streaming for professional use, there is so much to know. However, since a top professional-grade live streaming platform is a very powerful broadcasting tool that solution providers update regularly, it is difficult to find reviews and comparisons that include all of the information you need.

For new broadcasters looking to get in the streaming game, it can be challenging to objectively assess the available options. To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve put together a review of 10 of the best live streaming platforms for professional broadcasters and business users alike.

We will discuss what exactly a live streaming platform, the top features to consider when comparing for business and professional organizations, as well as review the top streaming platforms and pricing for 2020 and beyond.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents:

  • What is a Live Streaming Platform?
  • Features to Consider When Comparing Streaming Platforms
  • The Rise of Live Video Streaming for Business
  • The Purpose of Professional Live Streaming Platforms
  • Live Streaming Platform And Pricing Comparison for 2020
  • Conclusion

Please note that live streaming platform technology and pricing change regularly. This post reflects the most accurate information as of October 2020.

What is a Live Streaming Platform?

Live streaming platforms are video hosting solutions that allow users to upload and broadcast video content to their audience.

Businesses use online video platforms to share videos for the purpose of lead generation, building brand awareness, advertising, and providing paid access to video streaming.

Features to Consider When Comparing Streaming Platforms 

The beauty of having so many live video streaming services to choose from is that there are dozens of combinations of powerful features.

Stream hosts are not a “one-size-fits-all” sort of thing. That means that features that are valuable to you may not be valuable to another broadcaster, and vice versa.

Here are a few key features to look for when selecting a streaming platform:

  • Professional video hosting services
  • Video content management tools
  • Secure video upload solutions
  • Low latency streaming for live video delivery without delays
  • Video monetization capabilities
  • Live streaming APIs for enhanced content management
  • Mobile streaming application support and an SDK for integration on iOS and Android
  • Video editing and embedding tools
  • Advanced video analytics
  • Cloud video encoding and transcoding for live or VOD content streaming
  • Encoding software for live video delivery
  • Pricing plans: does the provider have a plan for your broadcasting needs?

In order to determine which features are the most valuable to your business, you should identify the goals you’d like to reach with broadcasting. Once you’ve got your list of goals, determine which features you need to bring those goals to fruition, and choose your live platform for video streaming based on those tools.

The Rise of Live Video Streaming for Business

Broadcasting in the professional world is not new, but it has evolved in the past few years.

Before broadcasting was big in the business world, live video streaming sites designed for consumers and independent content creators, such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live, were the most well-known streaming solutions.

Consumer-grade broadcast platforms are very valuable for amateur broadcasters and independent streamers. However, they simply do not have the tools that professional broadcasters need to succeed.

One of the first roadblocks that come with consumer-grade video streaming platforms that pushed businesses to seek professional corporate live streaming software is the fact that many schools and organizations block Youtube and Facebook because they are social media platforms.

The frustration of missing out on large audiences due to being blocked forced professional streaming solutions to come into play.

The Purpose of Professional Live Streaming Platforms

The main purpose of professional live streaming platforms is to host live broadcasts for businesses and other professional organizations.

Some perks of hosting on a professional platform include monetization, customization, access to better security features, and fewer limitations. Many include integrated paywalls and tools to ease integration with existing workflows.

With the help of both video and player APIs, you have more control over your live streaming experience on both the ends of broadcasters and viewers.

Many of these professional business video streaming platforms, including Dacast, also offer around the clock 24/7 technical support. Most consumer-grade platforms don’t offer this kind of support.

Another benefit of a professional video delivery platform is that it typically does not put time restrictions on your streams. Many also offer white-label video players that can be embedded directly on your website with no trace of third-party ads or branding.

Live Streaming Platform And Pricing Comparison for 2020

In order to help make your search for the perfect corporate live streaming software a bit easier, we’ve collected up-to-date information on the best broadcast platforms’ pricing, pros, cons, features, and more.

Please note that the data in this live streaming video platform comparison comes from a number of different sources. For example, these sources include platform websites, user reviews, and free trial accounts.

We regularly update this comparison with every detail, as streaming platforms change services, plans, and features.

Let’s take a look at the provider overview, basic functionality, key and detailed features, pros, cons, and pricing for the top 10 Live Streaming Platforms for professionals:

1. Vimeo Live

Overview and Company History:

Originally founded in 2007 as “Mogulus,” Livestream represented one of the largest live streaming companies in the world.

In 2017, Vimeo acquired the Livestream platform. Since the acquisition, the two platforms have merged their services.

Today, the Vimeo platform powers over 10 million events per year and focuses on an integrated system of hardware, software, and cloud services.

Basic Functionality:

Vimeo offers both streaming and video hosting services. This basic functionality includes analytics, a video management platform, privacy controls, and more. To access basic live streaming functionality, users must purchase a Premium plan.

Vimeo provides tech support via email for video hosting plans. For live support, users must purchase a Premium or Vimeo OTT custom plan.

Key Features:

What sets Vimeo apart is its offering of a range of proprietary hardware and software for live streaming. These offerings integrate smoothly with their platform, minimizing the fuss of implementing a live streaming program from the hardware on up.

Detailed Features:

  • Video management service
  • High-quality videos and streams
  • Large storage capacity
  • Privacy options
  • Upload from anywhere

Pros:

  • Unlimited events and viewers
  • No ads
  • Sleek and professional appearance
  • Thoroughly detailed analytics
  • Easy to use
  • Pay-per-view option

Cons:

  • Does not generate as much traffic as other sites
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Vimeo offers four main pricing plans.

Their Plus plan is the most basic option available, and it starts at $7/month. It includes basic features, such as player customization and social distribution.

The Pro and Business plans are both middle-of-the-road in terms of pricing and features. They are $20/month and $50/month, respectively.

Their Premium plan starts at $75/month. It includes both live streaming and VOD services. This plan is the way to go for professional broadcasting.

Additionally, they offer a custom-priced Enterprise plan that includes white-label service, monetization, and video APIs. It also includes branding control and added security features.

For more details, you can check out our detailed review of the platform.

2. JW Player

Overview and Company History:

First conceptualized in 2005 as part of a student project, JW Player began as a small piece of open-source code to play audio and video files. This code then became the basic video player for the fledgling YouTube, which continued to use the JW Player until Google acquired the platform.

Originally, JW Player was best known for its HTML5 video player for VOD content. In recent years, JW has expanded its video offerings beyond on-demand content to include live streaming.

Basic Functionality:

JW Player is perhaps best known for its HTML5 JW video player for VOD content.  This player supports MPEG-DASH playback, CSS skinning, DRM, and other advanced features. The company also now offers JW Live, a full-service a live streaming provider.

Key Features:

In terms of JW Live, the platform supports HLS adaptive live streaming, multi-bitrate transcoding, simulcast to FB Live, and real-time analytics. The service advertises itself as simple-to-use with a four-step process for beginning a live stream. Overall, JW Live is designed for users with a large budget and/or a large business enterprise.

Detailed Features:

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
  • Global content delivery, but China’s delivery is blocked by the Great Firewall
  • Tech support, but only in the form of email support through the $100/month plan level
  • Video API access on all plans
  • Security features are basic but functional. Only custom-priced Enterprise plans offer DRM
  • Monetization (only via advertising)

Pros:

  • Great video player
  • Simple, easy-to-use platform
  • Good advertising tools

Cons:

  • Live streaming limited to custom-priced plans with a 6-hour duration
  • Only ad-based monetization
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

At $5 per month, the Starter pricing plan includes 150 GB bandwidth and 50,000 video plays per month.

Enterprise plans are available with custom pricing for high-volume storage and streaming. Enterprise plans support live streaming, while lower-tier plans only support VOD.

JW Player offers a 1-month free trial of the Developer Plan for front-end and back-end engineers.

3. Muvi

Overview and Company History:

Next up in this review, Muvi is another of the best live streaming platforms focused on OTT media. This online video platform is unique in that it functions as a turnkey appliance for OTT broadcasters. In fact, this model empowers users to launch their own video or audio streaming platform quickly and easily. Additionally, the platform includes an all-inclusive and fully-featured website, mobile, and TV apps.

Basic Functionality:

Muvi is a PaaS-based live video streaming platform with an all-in-one OTT solution. Their OTT Multi-Screen Video Streaming service allows businesses to launch white-label multi-device video streaming, video on demand (VOD), and audio streaming. The platform includes fully managed, end-to-end solutions, all controlled from single CMS, no coding or IT team required.

Key Features:

With Muvi, you can have your own multi-screen OTT Video On Demand (VOD) platform in an instant. Their video streaming solution comes with a plethora of functionalities and capabilities. The best part is that it is a very simple and straightforward service that doesn’t require any coding and development expertise as everything is fully managed from Muvi’s end.

Detailed Features:

  • Custom branding
  • HTML5 video player
  • Analytics
  • Monetization options
  • DRM and security features

Pros:

  • Hosting
  • CDN
  • Video CMS
  • Transcoding
  • DRM
  • Website and Apps for Mobile and TV.

Cons:

  • Not user friendly
  • Hard to integrate or connect
  • CMS user interface is complex
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

First, note that Muvi prices its plans at three levels. The Standard plan, at $319 per month, allows 2000 concurrent viewers, 1TB each of bandwidth and storage, and API support. The Professional plan, at $1,199 per month, increases limits further and adds premium support. An Enterprise plan, which uses a dedicated server, is also available for $3,120 per month. Finally, mobile/TV apps are available at an additional monthly fee. Finally, keep in mind that all Muvi plans incur infrastructure fees.

4. Dacast

Overview and Company History:

With offices in London and San Francisco, Dacast is considered a competitive offering in a crowded marketplace. Dacast is a full-featured, self-service solution for both live streaming and VOD hosting.

In 2019, Dacast earned the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small/Medium Business Video Platform and Runner-Up for Best Education Video Platform. In 2019, Dacast acquired the vzaar platform, expanding its comprehensive OTT solution.

Basic Functionality:

Dacast provides comprehensive live streaming and secure video hosting services. Users can embed videos on their own websites while maintaining 100% control of their content. Among other features, Dacast offers an integrated paywall, password protection, referrer restriction, and an analytics dashboard.

Key Features:

Dacast distinguishes itself by offering high-end features with competitive pricing plans. These include ad-free broadcasting, white-label service on all plans, and top-tier CDN delivery. 24/7 phone support is also available for premium and enterprise-grade plans.

Additionally, the Dacast platform stands out from other OVPs with its ease-of-use and accessibility. Even new broadcasters can create a new live channel and start a new live stream in just a few minutes.

Detailed Features:

Dacast’s streaming platform has a huge variety of online video management, hosting, and corporate live streaming solutions.
  • Secure, global content delivery, including industry-best video hosting
  • 24/7 tech support with all plans, including email and live chat
  • Video security features, including password protection and encryption
  • VOD platform to monetize on-demand content, and to scale your VOD business
  • Low latency HTML5 channels for video streaming
  • Player API access for 3rd party player integration
  • Video API access on premium plans
  • Multi-bitrate streaming for live video and VOD
  • Cloud video transcoding with true adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR)
  • Live encoding support for the top video encoders
  • Real-time video streaming analytics
  • Ad-free streaming

Pros:

  • Live streaming and VOD included on all plans
  • Unlimited viewers and live channels
  • White label and branding control
  • Embeddable HTML5 video player
  • SVOD, AVOD, and TVOD pay-per-view monetization options
  • M3U8 media links to stream to mobile and smart TV apps such as Roku, Apple TV, etc.
  • Mobile device support
  • SDK for player integration on iOS and Android platforms
  • Live stream recording
  • China Video Hosting
  • Pricing plans for every budget

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of a learning curve

Pricing:

Streaming solution plans with Dacast come at three levels. The Starter plan is ideal for newcomers with 100 GB of bandwidth, 20 GB of storage, at just $21 per month billed annually.

However, business users will likely want to use the popular Scale plan, which includes 2,000 GB of bandwidth with 1000 GB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These Scale pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, an M3U8 online player for live channels, ads insertion, white-label Cnames, and video API access. Additional bandwidth is available upon request for monthly plans. Read more here about Dacast’s live streaming pricing plans.

If you’d rather not sign a contract, you can purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event. The Event plan is for organizations that stream events once, or occasionally, or on an irregular schedule, and don’t want to have a recurring monthly payment. It offers 6,000 GB of bandwidth, 10 GB of storage, and costs just $63 per month (or $750/year). Additional data and storage can be added as needed.

5. Brightcove

Overview and Company History:

Founded in 2004, Boston-based Brightcove is one of the oldest online video platforms in-game. Its product offerings focus on cloud encoding, live streaming, and VOD (video on demand) hosting.

In 2019, Brightcove acquired streaming platform Ooyala, known for its cloud video technology. Since the acquisition, Brightcove has announced end-of-life plans for the Ooyala OVP.

Basic Functionality:

Brightcove offers a number of modular products. These include: Video Cloud hosting, the Lift video player, Once for server-side ad insertion, Live for streaming video, OTT flow for internet TV, Zencoder for cloud transcoding, and tools for monetization.

Key Features:

The Brightcove service shines in the arena of analytics. Its detailed analytics and video marketing tools are quite valuable for businesses that aim to capture leads and understand their audience.

Detailed Features:

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
  • Global content delivery
  • Tech support, but only at a basic level with slow ticket-based responses (unless you upgrade to a paid support plan)
  • Video API access, but only on custom-priced plans
  • Security features, but with high-end features only available on custom plans
  • Monetization options, but only on custom-priced plans

Pros:

  • Good analytics
  • Includes custom video portals
  • CRM integration

Cons:

  • High price point
  • No live streaming with packages under  $499/month
  • Monetization limited to custom-priced plans
  • No China video delivery

Pricing:

Mainly targeting huge clients, Brightcove offers two pricing plan levels. These include the $499/month (billed annually) and custom-priced plans at a higher price-point. Interested broadcasters can contact their sales department to receive a quote or sign up for a 30-day free trial.

As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of capable streaming solutions on the market. As a result, however, it can be challenging to choose the right fit for you from the best live streaming platforms.

We hope this article has helped you to get a better idea of the streaming platforms available. Most importantly, we hope you’ve had success in narrowing down your live streaming service provider.

Still not sure which streaming service to choose? We highly recommend taking advantage of free trials for the best live stream platforms.

Vimeo is our preferred choice, to begin with. With professional service, no ads and unlimited viewers, it’s definitely your best bet.