Event producers are hearing the same request more and more: “Can you add live streaming functionality to your services?” The ability to add live streaming to your product offerings is a value-added service. As such, it can increase profitability and business without adding too much in the way of additional costs. This article will examine the best streaming video services for event production.
First, we will discuss a few of the unique considerations that event producers—as opposed to businesses or individuals—may have when live streaming. Then, we will compare three leading live streaming services to help you make your decision. In a world increasingly driven by video (which is expected to make up 78% of mobile data traffic by 2021), these skills are essential.
Live streaming considerations for event production companies
Here at DaCast, we work closely with a wide range of event production specialists. These businesses include Central Media Services, Toronto-based EventStream, and Dogwood Media.
Event producers are different from other organizations in a number of ways. For one, events are their lifeblood, not just a smaller part of a bigger operation. When events are your bread and butter, the ease of use of a given video platform and workflow is key. Everything must be smooth, 100% reliable, and integrated.
Let’s take a look at a few other considerations for event production companies.
How big are your clients?
If your main client-base is corporations or other large organizations, your budget is likely to be relatively large. You will also need a service that can scale up to reach a potentially huge number of viewers. Robustness and reliability are key here as well.
For medium-sized clients, you’ll want to strike a balance. A platform that provides a high level of functionality while also keeping costs under control is important.
If you primarily work with small clients, your budget will be smaller. This means that minimizing costs is more important than having every single feature.
How much do you live stream?
Here are a few questions to consider: Are you streaming multiple times a week? Is your operation focusing more on larger events that happen less often? How large is your average audience? What quality do you stream at, and what sort of bitrate can you expect? (Learn how to make those calculations here).
These questions can help determine how much bandwidth you will need for a given live stream. Averaging out your bandwidth will help you decide which plan to purchase from a live streaming company. Buying higher-level plans generally provides a better price per GB of bandwidth.
For those who stream less often, event pricing, which allows you to purchase bandwidth as needed (rather than a monthly plan), may be preferable.
How can you cut costs and streamline operations?
Production companies are positioned in a middle-ground between streaming video services and clients who wish to live stream. This market positioning can be lucrative, but does entail some major costs. Most of these are capital (cameras, audio equipment, switchers, etc.) and labor.
The price of a streaming video service may be a small part of the overall cost of doing business in event production. However, plans can add up quickly. Some professional-level streaming plans cost in excess of $2000-3000 per month. That’s as expensive as adding another person to staff. However, if you’re a high-end studio event producer, that may be within your budget.
Therefore, an event production company should strive to find streaming video services that provide all of their necessary features at minimal cost. As with any business, saving costs here will positively impact your bottom line.
Another key element for event producers is integration with existing workflows. This is often best done via an Application Programming Interface (API). To learn more about how APIs work, and how to integrate them into your workflows, check out our blog on how to choose an API.
Best streaming video services for event production companies
There are many streaming video services available today from a range of companies. In fact, there are too many to even mention in one post. Instead, we’re going to highlight three of the most important platforms.
Each of these services is widely used by businesses, individuals, and event production companies alike. These platforms have a range of strengths and weaknesses. Some users will find one more to their liking than the others. To help you with your initial selection, let’s share a few of the features each of these platforms possess.
Livestream is a major player among streaming video services. Their features and pricing indicate they have professional users mostly in mind. These features include tracking and analytics, monetization, and custom-made hardware for encoding and filming. However, this hardware integration may be one of the Livestream platform’s biggest disadvantages as well. When you choose this hardware, you’re locked in to using Livestream.
Livestream has three basic price levels. The basic plan costs $42 per month. It includes basic ad-free live streaming, integrated live chat, and event archiving. However, it does not include some basic features such as white label streaming and embedding.
The premium plan costs $249 per month. It adds the ability to stream to Facebook Live or YouTube concurrent with Livestream. It also includes the ability to embed live streams and phone-based customer support.
Finally, the enterprise plan adds cloud transcoding and RTMP input support, white label streaming, and more. There is no set price as the enterprise plan is customizable based on the unique needs of each user. All plans include unlimited streaming, which is an advantage for event producers.
An early pioneer in live streaming video, Ustream now falls under IBM’s ownership. Their services include some interesting features. One of these is an aggregated CDN which uses multiple content delivery networks for maximum speed. Advertising support is also integrated.
Ustream is available in a few different plans. The Pro plans cost between $99 and $999 per month. All of these plans include ad-free broadcasting, support for resolutions up to 720p, social media integration, and security controls. For $99, you get 100 ad-free viewer hours. For $499, you receive 2,000 ad-free viewer hours. The $999 plan bumps this up to 5,000 viewer hours and adds even more features.
A 30-day free trial is available for the Pro plans. However, the maximum of 720p broadcasting may be too restrictive for some users.
Users who need more viewer hours, support for 1080p full High Definition broadcasting, and a variety of other advanced features should choose the Enterprise plan. This plan is priced on a custom contract basis.
The third and final streaming video service we’re highlighting is DaCast. DaCast is our own functional, easy to use online video platform. For example, DaCast integrates white label service at every price level, an advantage for event production companies.
Another useful feature is the integrated paywall, which makes it simple to pre-sell access to events. New features surface regularly. One of the latest is multi-level access, which enables you to set different levels of access for different users. This can be ideal for allowing increased access to clients for the purposes of previewing streams and editing descriptions.
DaCast integrates a powerful API and several SDKs. These enable integration with other publishing workflows, mobile apps, and more. DaCast works with Akamai, the largest content delivery network in the world. This means that live channels are provisioned instantly, and buffering and lagging are minimized worldwide. The integrated multi-device video player is customizable for on-the-fly changes so you can match your streams to your client branding.
Event producers need streaming video services that are feature-packed. Ideally, these can also integrate with existing broadcast and recording workflows. They also need platforms that are affordable within the budget they are working with. Above all else, they need a platform that’s reliable and easy to use, with as little friction as possible. Time and energy during an event is just too valuable to waste on complex platforms or systems that don’t work.
Are you in the event production business? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. What features are the most important to you? Did we miss anything in this article? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update it to support the latest information.
Remember, a great way to help you make a decision about a streaming video service is to test them out using a free trial. Unfortunately, some platforms don’t include major features in their free trial. However, here at DaCast, we include almost everything in our 30-day free trial. To try it out, sign up for free right now by clicking the button below.