The Top 9 Cloud Video Streaming PlatformsJuly 6, 2022
“Move to the cloud,” you hear over and over again. “If you’re not migrating to the cloud, you can’t keep up.”
This is the reality for countless industries, but is especially true of live streaming when video isn’t an organization’s core competency. The advice above may be frustrating to hear if the cloud is a mystery to you, but it’s not wrong: historically, companies needed to invest in on-premises hardware that was costly and laborious to maintain. This was especially difficult if video wasn’t an organization’s core competency. These on-site servers demanded exorbitant computing power that had to volley resources between tasks, resulting in streams that weren’t always the greatest for viewers (and, therefore, not as profitable).
Cloud computing is far less resource-intensive and allows content creators to outsource the technical complexities to a cloud video service. The cloud is the future, and if you want to stream video to audience members around the world, then it’s time to make the switch.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this yourself. There are many cloud video streaming platforms out there you can use to host your video content and provide viewers with quality playback experiences. Before we dive into the best ones to choose from, let’s address a few essential questions.
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What Is Cloud Video Streaming?
Cloud video streaming is when you store your video files in the cloud (in simplified terms, a collection of servers and databases around the world) instead of servers on premises. Viewers can access these files through the Internet without needing to download them.
One of cloud video streaming’s greatest benefits is its enhanced transcoding functionality. In today’s world where people have different devices and access to various bandwidths, successful live and VOD streaming depends on generating multiple renditions of the same stream with adjustable resolutions and bitrates. Cloud video platforms can transrate, transcode (such as converting between codecs), and transmux video and audio files more efficiently than on-premises servers, ensuring viewers with iPhones with questionable coverage and audiences watching on their TVs with excellent Wi-Fi have equally smooth playback. Cloud streaming accelerates your overall delivery workflow for optimized viewing (and fewer complaints!).
Benefits of Cloud Streaming Platforms
Besides transcoding efficiency, other benefits of cloud video streaming include:
Total cost is cheaper: Cloud video services eliminate the need to store video files in on-site hardware you pay to install and maintain (which likely requires a bigger IT team). The list price may look hefty, but the total cost of ownership is less expensive because paying for a third-party service allows you to focus on content creation while someone else does the heavy lifting.
Accessibility: If your videos are stored in the cloud, you and your audience can access them anywhere there’s internet. Plus, many platforms offer closed captioning features, so you can make your content accessible in more ways than one.
Interactivity: Hosting videos in the cloud enables you to make them interactive, which opens numerous opportunities to engage your audience and drive revenue. This is also true of some on-premises software, like Wowza Streaming Engine.
Reliability: If you choose to use a cloud video platform, then you don’t need a contingency plan in case your own hardware malfunctions. You can sit back, relax, and trust that your viewers will have an optimal playback experience without worrying about buffering or interruptions.
Easy to use: Cloud live streaming is easier than on-premises streaming on your part because many cloud platforms include user-friendly Content Management Systems (CMS) where you can organize and manage your files from one dashboard.
The Best 9 Cloud Video Platforms
Now, let’s look at the best cloud video services around. This list is non-exhaustive, but it should get you started as you compare your options.
*Note: the information included in this blog post is accurate as of July 6th, 2022.
Wowza has been helping organizations across countless industries stream since 2007, but it
’s latest product, Wowza Video, is a groundbreaking cloud-based technology that empowers companies to stream live and VOD like they never have before.
Built for organizations for whom video is an essential business component but not something they’re particularly well-versed in, Wowza Video’s single-platform solution is user friendly, builder-focused, and feature-rich (without being too overwhelming, of course). It also boasts rock-solid reliability and scalability, so you can grow your audience as much as possible without worrying any individual member will struggle with poor playback. Plus, it’s all-in-one, so you don’t need to worry about integrating it with external tools or dealing with multi-vendor workflows.
You can expect:
- An included HTML5 player
- Live and VOD streaming with optimized playback
- An innovative CMS for managing video assets and improving searchability
- SOC-2 certification for iron-clad security
- Top-notch customer support whenever you need assistance
- A collection of SDKs so you can make the most of the product
- Real-time analytics for insight into stream health and viewer demographics
- A built-in CDN for smooth delivery around the world
- Builder-focused API coverage across encoding, transcoding, CMS and playback
- Enhanced UX for simple and intuitive navigation
Pay As You Go: $25 monthly
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
Dacast’s cloud-based, self-service streaming platform is known for being user-friendly and affordable. It’s flexible, so you can take advantage of its player and video API access to customize it to meet your business’s particular needs.
You can expect:
- A video gallery CMS that lets you view and manage all your past content
- Ad-free streaming without interruptions
- An integrated paywall for gating your content and monetizing streams
- In-depth analytics into how your audience interacts with your content
Starter Plan: $39 monthly for 1.2 TB (yearly) and 50 GB of storage
Event Plan: $63 monthly for 6 TB (upfront) and 50 GB of storage
Scale Plan: $188 monthly for 24 TB (yearly) and 1000 GB of storage
Custom plan for additional features, support, and customization
IBM is a well-known brand, so it’s understandable that you’d want to look into their cloud streaming solution. IBM Cloud Video provides end-to-end streaming services that include hosting, transcoding, and AI-generated speech to text captions that make your content more accessible. The platform also offers insightful analytics so you can adapt your content strategy according to users’ preferences. IBM caters to enterprise-level companies, so it’s advantageous for corporate videos, marketing, and educational material.
You can expect:
- Lots of data storage to host video files, whether you’re using the platform to stream to enormous audiences or your internal team
- API access (on advanced plans)
- Multi-CNDs for streamlined content delivery
- The ability to customize your channel page
- Options to create live playlists on a loop
Silver Plan: $99 monthly, better for small businesses
Gold Plan: $499 monthly, intended for medium-sized businesses
Platinum Plan: $999 monthly if you stream more frequently
Custom Plan: You’ll need a quote for high-volume needs
Vimeo was once a platform for content creators to share their work, but it’s since become a massive platform that large organizations use to store, host, and distribute video. Vimeo’s cloud-based product, Vimeo Livestream, is an all-in-one solution that includes a wide variety of features to meet your needs. It’s also SOC-2 certified like Wowza, so it promises high-level security.
You can expect:
- Advanced monetization options
- Geoblocking and IP restriction
- SLAs and uptime guarantees
- Unlimited events and audience size
- Integrations with platforms like WordPress, Shopify, and TikTok
Vimeo’s live streaming features are only available on its Premium and Enterprise plans.
Premium: $75 monthly for 7TB of storage, unlimited live webinars, browser-based production tools, live audience chat, and more.
Enterprise: Everything included in Premium plus extra perks like dedicated account management and customized embedding. You’ll need to contact Vimeo’s sales department for a quote.
Vidyard’s cloud streaming platform specializes in sales and marketing. The service understands that people respond better to video than emails and voice calls, so video messages enable sales teams to book more meetings and personalize interactions that convert customers at a higher rate. In a world where making pitches and sales depends on personality as much as information, video is the way to let both shine through.
You can expect:
- Video SEO features for searchability
- Tracking abilities, so you can see who has viewed what
- Screen or video camera recording
- Ad-free streaming with lots of storage
- The ability to embed videos into your website, landing pages, and blog
Free Plan: $0 for basic recording, uploading, and sharing
Pro Plan: $19 monthly for the above plus branding, insights, and CTAs
Teams Plan: $300 monthly to add video to your marketing and sales strategies
Business Plan: $1,250 monthly for all available features and CRM/MAP integration
SproutVideo is another option for live streaming and VOD. The platform targets mid-size to large businesses and offers a wide variety of features, including the ability to add CTAs and influence organic traffic with marketing-related tools. It
’s interface is intuitive, so it’s a choice worth considering even for beginning streamers.
You can expect:
- Viewer engagement metrics
- A custom video player
- Easy embedding options, even if you don’t have coding skills
- HD to Ultra-HD (up to 8K) streaming
Seed Plan: $24.99 monthly for basic features
Sprout Plan: $59.99 monthly for all of the above plus account audits, video website, and login protection
Tree Plan: $199.99 monthly for more advanced features, including exportable data
Forest Plan: $499.99 monthly for all features, including IP address restriction
Panopto’s cloud video platform specializes in educational content and other learning management systems. For example, it empowers educational institutions like universities to record lectures and make them accessible for students to watch whenever, wherever. Companies can even use it for training and knowledge sharing. Plus, its secure video library is searchable, so users can review past and current content as they wish.
You can expect:
- The ability to easily capture video from multiple cameras and screens
- Insightful video analytics
- LMS system integrations
- White-labeling options
Basic Plan: Free for basic features
Panopto Pro: $14.99 monthly for unlimited streaming and customer support
Panopto Enterprise: You’ll need a quote for all features and unlimited storage
Brightcove is worth considering if you want to try cloud video streaming. The platform caters to a variety of industries but is a particular favorite amongst eCommerce brands thanks to its features relevant to product demos, announcements, and video reviews. Once your content is produced and ready to go, Brightcove enables you to display videos in a gallery-style similar to popular streaming services your users are familiar with.
You can expect:
- A high-quality HTML5 player
- Server-side ad insertion (which lets you control what ads your viewers see)
- Integrations with Salesforce, Marketo, and Hubspot
- Solutions for audio-only content like podcasting
- The ability to add streams to all kinds of devices and platforms
Brightcove doesn’t disclose its pricing on its website, but it divides its products by Brightcove for Marketing versus for Enterprise. Only the Enterprise level for the latter includes unlimited live streaming (the Standard plan limits you to eight hours per year).
Kaltura is unique to this list because it’s open source, meaning it’s constantly growing and evolving. It’s incredibly customizable and feature-rich, so you can incorporate it into your business operations however you see fit. As far as cloud video streaming goes, Kaltura’s Cloud TV service empowers you to curate personalized live and VOD television viewing experiences, helping you reach new audiences and scale accordingly. Kaltura is a favorite amongst educational institutions and organizations that need to stream a variety of live events, including inter-organizational town halls.
You can expect:
- Video messaging capabilities (as opposed to text and voice messaging)
- The ability to webcast events ranging from small meetings to international conferences
- A convenient and accessible video portal
- A variety of monetization options to drive revenue
Kaltura doesn’t list its prices publicly, so you’ll have to contact its sales team for a quote on most of its products besides the Webinars plan (which is $99 monthly for a Standard plan and $124 for Premium).
Cloud video streaming boasts several advantages over on-premises streaming. If you want to stream video to your audience while taking advantage of enhanced security, storage, and ease-of-use, it’s time to move your content from the ground to the cloud.