How to Choose the Right Service Provider for Live Cloud TranscodingSeptember 19, 2018 You’re a live streaming producer, and you’re sold on transcoding in the cloud. You have multiple options, so how do you choose the right one? Here are three steps to take, and some key factors to consider, when choosing a live cloud transcoding service provider.
1. Identify Your Live-Streaming RequirementsStart by creating lists of both the “must-have” and “nice-to-have” features required for your event. This will help you define the functionality you’re seeking from your service provider. These lists should include:
- Input source and protocol. Identify your on-site encoder and make sure the service you choose supports the codec and protocols you’ll be using.
- Output target(s). Identify the platforms you want your videos to play on (computers, mobile devices, etc.), as well as how you want playback achieved (browser-based or in-app). If mobile playback is via an app, make sure the service provider provides software development kits (SDKs). Identify where you want viewers to access the videos (either your own website, or a page on the service’s website), plus other distribution targets, such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Periscope.
- Low latency. Many interactive use cases, such as auctions and sports wagering, need glass-to-glass latency of under three seconds. For these applications, general-purpose solution providers probably won’t do; you’ll need a low-latency solution.
- Customizable transcoding. Do you need the ability to customize transcoding parameters, such as the number of streams in your adaptive group or their resolution and data rate, or will stock parameters supplied by the vendor suffice? Not all vendors let you adjust these parameters.
- Content protection. You may need content protection if your video will be encrypted, or if you will need to apply geo-restrictions so only certain audiences can view it.
- Captions. If you need to broadcast captions with your live video—for example, to meet broadcast standards for accessibility—then your transcoder will need to support this functionality.
- Monetization. Do you need to monetize your live video, whether through pay-per-view or advertising? If so, you’ll need a service that provides a paywall or access to advertising platforms, or that can interact with third-party paywalls or advertising platforms.
- End-to-end solution vs. part of an existing workflow. As you’ll see in a moment, multiple classes of service providers can transcode your live streams. Some offer a complete platform with a player, content management capabilities, live and video-on-demand (VOD) transcoding, delivery, analytics and other features, while others offer modular technologies for deployment within an existing ecosystem. Understanding the functions you’re looking to acquire will help focus your selection.
2. Understand Your Live Cloud Transcoding Service ProvidersAs mentioned, there are multiple classes of cloud providers of live transcoding services. Here is an at-a-glance look at how the different types stack up:
|Companies||Livestream, Ustream, DaCast||Brightcove, Kaltura, Ooyala||Akamai, Azure, AWS Elemental||Wowza, Bitmovin|
|Description||Simple end-to-end solution, primarily for live||Comprehensive integrated platform for VOD and live video||Development platform with multiple functional offerings||Offers limited set of standalone functions|
|Transcoding as a stand-alone service||Mostly no||Some yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced feature support (captions, DRM)||Mostly no||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transcoding locks you into other platform components||Yes||Usually no||Maybe||No|
|Ease of use transcoding services||NA||Good||Better||Best|
|Cost of transcoding services||NA||$$$||$$||$|