Live Video Streaming Platforms With the Best APIs
If you’re ready to implement streaming into your business, you need a video solution that makes it possible. Sure, you can piece together commercial or open-source components to build an application on your own infrastructure — which you must maintain and pay for — or you can turn to a platform with a live video streaming API that removes the complexity from streaming and allows you to focus on the content you’re excited to create (or let your audience create and share, too!).
Multiple platforms with robust video API coverage exist on the market, which means you’ll have to do some shopping to determine which is right for you. Let’s explore what a live video streaming API is and some of the best options available (already know more than we do about APIs? Skip ahead to The Best Live Video Streaming APIs).
Table of Contents
What Is a Live Video Streaming API?
If you’re not already familiar, an API is an application programming interface, which is a piece of code or software that acts as an intermediary so two applications can communicate or integrate with each other. For example, if you want to build an application using a platform with a closed API, you’ll have to connect them through the UI, which is much more challenging to do. If you’re using a solution with an open API, though, you have more control and flexibility over what you can build.
A live video streaming API gives you control over all the functions of a live and video on demand streaming platform. Video APIs enable you to incorporate advanced configurations into your application without predefined tools, restrictions, and vendors, granting you more freedom to integrate with other platforms and design features capable of more powerful tasks.
A live video streaming API empowers you to:
- Create, start, and stop live streams
- Obtain stream health information
- Set custom stream targets
- Turn past streams into videos on demand
- Stream at low latency
- Generate advanced workflows (like loops)
- Manage video assets and add metadata
- Glean insight into video performances with deep analytics
And much more. Essentially, you can think of video APIs like ready-made protocols and procedures that make your developers’ lives easier.
What Is an SDK vs. API?
While deciding which video solution is right for you, you may be confused when you hear the term SDK instead of API. As we’ve established, an API consists of out-of-the-box programs that enable you to interface with another piece of software, but an SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a collection of development tools that includes APIs. Essentially, they’re sets of tools for particular purposes. A video platform might offer you an SDK comprised of various programs — such as runtimes and compilers — as well as APIs so you can build on and control the resources the platform already provides.
You also may be wondering, is an SDK better than an API? Neither is inherently better than another because though SDKs include multiple tools, they always have at least one API. Many of the video platforms we’ll discuss offer their APIs inside SDKs, but we’ll focus on APIs themselves so keep things simple.
The Best Live Video Streaming APIs
Now, let’s dive into the platforms with the best live video streaming APIs. This list covers some of the most major players that make their APIs accessible but is non-exhaustive, so you may look into other options afterward.
*Note: The information in this article is accurate as of August 2nd, 2022.
We’ll start with:
Wowza is an industry-leading video solution that specializes in both live streaming and video on demand. One of its core products, Wowza Video, is a cloud-based platform that offers robust API coverage, ranging across transcoding and asset management to advanced workflows and playback optimization.
Wowza Video’s REST API (Representational State Transfer) uses HTTP to request information from Wowza’s servers through requests to API endpoints, granting you complete programmatic control and managing power over live streams, stream sources, targets, transcoders, and more.
If you want to implement video into your business in any capacity, Wowza Video’s REST API makes it possible to build whatever application you can imagine while integrating it with your existing tech stack.
Let’s say you want to create a new kind of social media app that specializes in sports. People will be able to discuss recent games in forums, share photos, keep up with scores, and so on. What would make your app indescribably better is video, such as the ability to live stream actual matches, fan opinions, and game recaps. Instead of worrying about building these complicated functions and features from scratch, you could use Wowza Video’s API to integrate a video platform with your app (as well as other tools you rely on, such as third-party sources for live scores and news curation) that allows you to focus on the sports you and your audience love, not the tech.
You can use Wowza Video’s API to:
- Connect sources, such as RTMP, RSTP, SRT, WebRTC, and UDP encoders, as well as IP cameras
- Configure live streams, stream targets, and transcoders
- Schedule, loop, and record streams
- Embed and customize the Wowza Video Player in your site or app
- Ingest and convert timed metadata
- Optimize security from encoder to playback
- Collect viewer data and stream health metrics
- Store, transcode, and manage mp4 files
- Simultaneously stream with adaptive bitrates
- Create streaming experiences for a wide range of industries, from sports and e-commerce to education and events
- Access VOD management, including all CMS functionality
- Pull analytics on specific streams and videos on demand
Pay As You Go: $25 monthly plus usage
Annual Plan: $130 monthly for 300 streaming hours, 10,000 viewing hours, and 150 GB of storage
Enterprise Plan: Custom pricing
One-month, one-time purchase: $149
Vimeo is a well-known out-of-the-box solution for creating a video platform for your brand. Capable of generating OTT channels, facilitating live events, and more, Vimeo’s accessible API is advantageous for enterprise-level organizations looking to implement video into their business models without obtaining and dedicating the necessary technological resources themselves. Vimeo makes its API and other libraries and SDKs in multiple languages, namely PHP, Python, and Node.js (as well as a bridge for Laravel), so it’s available for a wide range of organizations.
Vimeo’s API enables you to:
- Glean insight into audience and streaming health data
- Launch a branded subscription service
- Securely upload, stream, and share content
- Stream live events via Vimeo’s player or an external HLS player
- Embed content in external sites and apps with oEmbed
- Adjust privacy and other details from Settings
Starter Plan: $1 per subscriber monthly
Growth Plan: $500 per month plus $1 per subscriber
Enterprise Plan: Quote-based
Mux isn’t a video platform the way many others on this list are because its core product is its ready-to-use API. Instead of offering drag-and-drop features, Mux’s robust live video streaming API is designed for developers to implement it into their existing sites or applications to build customized video experiences. It offers the basics, like audience and stream health analytics and closed captioning, alongside more advanced functions, such as webhooks configuration and integrations with serverless deployment solutions.
The Mux API empowers you to:
- Stream to third-party platforms like YouTube and Twitch
- Capture images and clips from your videos
- Take advantage of pull-based inputs and direct uploads
- Normalize audio for the best sound quality
- Enable separate administration and configuration access for different accounts
- Integrate with headless CMSs
Mux’s pricing structure is unique. Instead of paying for a plan or tier, your monthly costs will be unique to your business based on how you use the platform. For on demand and live video, Mux charges:
$0.04 per minute of input video duration for encoding
$0.003 per minute of video duration stored per month
$0.0012 per minute of streaming video delivered
$0.004 per minute per individual participants for real-time streaming
You’ve likely heard of Twilio because it offers multiple APIs, including those built for SMS messaging, voice, and email. As for video, the Twilio API enables you to create seamless video experiences with adaptive bitrates and exceptional playback. Built on WebRTC, it’s possible to use Twilio’s platform to build applications for both broadcasting live events and interpersonal video communications (available plans include Video WebRTC Go for one-on-one chatting, Video P2P, and Video Groups for multiple parties).
- Create video Rooms that can hold your required number of participants
- Take advantage of GDPR compliance
- Pay as you go instead of making long-term commitments
- Use the Network Quality API to stay on top of network conditions
- Enable PSTN dial-in
With Twilio’s Live REST API, you can:
- Stream to an unlimited audience
- Create streaming experiences for marketing events, education, e-commerce, and more
- Record videos in real time and modify them later
- Create interactive streams
- Play in both Android or iOS apps
The Twilio API for Video Rooms are as follows:
Video WebRTC Go: Free for up to two participants
Video P2P: $0.0015 per participant per minute, up to three individuals
Video Groups: $0.004 per participant per minute, up to 50
High Volume: Contact sales for pricing
Next, the Twilio API for Live is priced as such:
Speaker: $0.004 per minute for video only or $0.0016 per minute with audio, charged by number of speakers
Livestream Creation: $0.10 per minute for video only or $0.048 per minute with audio, charged by minutes spent livestreaming
Audience: $0.0025 per minute for video only or $0.001 per minute with audio, charged by minutes of content viewed or listened to
Brightcove is an enterprise-level video solution that lets you stream in over 175 countries. It offers a comprehensive array of SDKs and unique APIs, including those designed for ingestion, its video player, playback, analytics, live transcoding, and CMS integration. Yes, Brightcove offers many APIs instead of just one or a few — only you can decide how that will factor into your video and development strategy — but you can use them to integrate with many of your existing technologies and deploy video across a multitude of devices.
With Brightcove’s APIs, you can:
- Reach your audience with RTMP and HLS outputs simultaneously
- Use out-of-the-box features or build your own
- Publish and stream videos from your favorite CMS
- Easily add player plugins and automate CDN publishing
- Integrate with DAM systems
You can contact Brightcove for pricing information.
Kaltura’s extremely flexible nature is thanks to the fact that it’s open source. Countless developers and programmers have and continue to contribute to it, making it extremely feature-rich and versatile. As such, Kaltura offers access to hundreds of REST APIs that grant you programmable control to all of its core services. You can build a custom app, integrate it with your existing tech stack, take advantage of various widgets and solutions, and much more. The Kaltura Application Framework, the foundation of its video platform as a service offering, makes it easy to build the video communications experience your organization needs (Kaltura does specialize in corporate and educational events as opposed to streaming large events).
With Kaltura’s APIs, it’s possible to:
- Use the Experience API (xAPI) to standardize data collection
- Ingest content in bulk
- License and encrypt content
- Create and embed interactive videos
- Test what you can do and build beforehand with the Kaltura API Console
You can contact Kaltura directly for pricing information.
Agora.io enables customers to boost their engagement through video and voice applications. Between its unique interactive whiteboard for collaboration, in-depth performance analytics, and cloud recording capabilities, Agora is a viable option if you’re aiming to build a video solution with real-time communications, whether it’s for a more intimate classroom setting or live streaming large events. It’s even possible to utilize the Agora App Builder to create customized apps without any coding experience.
The Agora API empowers you to:
- Stream with ultra-low latency thanks to its SD-RTN network
- Launch an interactive learning environment with its Flexible Classroom feature
- Access all sorts of SDKs for building apps across Flutter, Electron, React Native, and more
- Create and embed chat apps to interact with audience members
- Enable features like virtual gifts and speaker promotion
Video Call – Pay as you go
HD: $3.99 per 1000 participant minutes
Full HD: $8.99 per 1000 participant minutes
Interactive Live Streaming (all prices are per 1000 participant minutes)
Hosts: $0.99 for audio, $3.99 for video, and $8.99 for Full HD
Audience – Standard: $0.59 for audio, $1.99 for HD video, and $4.59 for Full HD
Audience – Premium: $0.99 for audio, $3.99 for HD video, and $8.99 for Full HD
API access is one of the most critical features you should pay attention to when deciding on the best video solution for your business. A live video streaming API can be capable of a great deal, so check out different platforms’ API and product documentation for a sneak peek at what each would empower you to do to get your imagination running. It’s also wise to check if they have community Forums where customers can discuss problems and solutions, or customer support and professional services that can help with setups and integrations. The more support the platform offers, whether in person or through content, the more successful you can be.
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About Jacob Yoss
Jacob is Wowza’s resident content writer, creating blog posts, case studies, and more that educate Wowza’s audience. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Jacob currently travels the world as a digital nomad and is also passionate about social justice, art, and fantasy literature.