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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Video Streaming Servers

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Less than a decade ago most of our households were a battlefield. There hasn’t been a night, or even a day without that fight over the remote control for the TV. Here, who was the culprit? Cable.

We had hundreds of channels and, now when you take a look at it, don’t you realize that cable had everything but offered nothing for everyone?

Whenever the hefty monthly bill came out we found our mothers muttering about “wasting money,” Dad slamming fists on the table, declaring, “There’s gotta be a better way!” But, What’s the scenario today?

The cutting-cord revolution has transformed every household. At present, we are enjoying an entertaining journey into the world of streaming.

Video streaming platforms have become most of our go-to for family movie nights, We have ESPN+ to satisfy Dad’s sports cravings.

And, Hulu makes moms happy with those home improvement shows. Not to mention how our kids are engrossed in the vast animation libraries on Funimation.

So, gone are the channel-flipping wars! Our room is now filled with the quiet hum of individual devices and the satisfaction of data consumption.

The cable cord has now become more or less like a relic of a bygone era.

This transition is quick but not seamless. There were learning curves. The ups and downs were caused by buffering hiccups and occasional compatibility issues.

This slowly got resolved as a new (algo)rhythm came up with the machine learning content curation process.

As a result of this, nearly all of us have been captivated by short video platforms and the best video streaming servers.

This makes a statement that we aren’t just watching videos but experiencing entertainment on our terms.

This cable-streaming shift in the entertainment landscape was possible primarily due to the technology behind the screen.

And, if you are the one who is about to venture into the streaming platform then look out for its technical aspects.

What are Video Streaming Services?

The definition proved by the Business Research Company, for Video streaming services is as follows.

Video streaming services are online platforms that continuously deliver video content to users over the internet.

This allows users to watch videos they wish to watch without demanding them to download the entire video file in the first place.

In downloading, you get the entire file first and then you’ll be able to watch it, while in streaming it’s the opposite. It lets you start watching almost immediately.

This blog has all that you need to know before bidding goodbye to the limitations of linear programming and saying hello to the best video streaming services waiting to be explored, one stream at a time.

How do Video Streaming Servers help with Streaming?

Video streaming servers help you with broadcasting your video content to your viewers in real time.

And, they also handle the heavy workload of delivering large video files efficiently, with smooth playback irrespective of a high number of concurrent viewers.

These serves also make sure that viewers can watch the event that gets broadcasted with minimal latency.

Overall, video streaming servers serve as the backbone for online video distribution by ensuring a pleasant video-watching experience for viewers.

Do you Know?


Wikipedia states that the term streaming was initially used to denote tape drives manufactured by Data Electronics Inc. So, originally this term meant slowly ramping up and running for the entire track. Later in the 1990s Streaming was used to describe the videos on demand.

Significance of the Best Video Streaming Servers:

  • They offer a huge range of different content that includes movies, TV shows, documentaries, original productions, live events, user-generated videos, and so on.
  • Services can offer both on-demand content, that you can watch at your desired pace, and live streaming content that lets you watch events as they happen.
  • Some services come free with ads or other limitations while others ask for a paid subscription.
  • You can access the best video streaming servers across many devices including smart TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles.
  • Different services make use of different technologies for streaming. Yet, the process is similar.
  • They all send small chunks of video data to your device at a time. This allows you to start watching at once without waiting for the entire file to download.

Video Streaming Servers Vs Cable

FeatureCableVideo Streaming Servers
Content-TypeMostly live TV, some on-demand contentMostly on-demand content, some live TV options
Channel SelectionA wide variety of channels, including local channels and sports networksMore focused selection, based on specific streaming services
CostGenerally more expensive, with contracts and additional feesCan be cheaper, with flexible pricing models and no contracts
FlexibilityLess flexible, and requires a set-top box and cable connectionMore flexible, watch on various devices and internet connection
AvailabilityMore flexible, watch on various devices and internet connectionAvailable anywhere with a decent internet connection
ReliabilityGenerally reliable, unaffected by internet outagesReliant on internet speed and stability, buffering is possible
PersonalizationLimited personalizationPersonalized recommendations and watchlists
Original ContentLimited original contentMany platforms offer original shows and movies
SimultaneousA limited number of simultaneousVaries by service, some offer unlimited
Video Streaming Servers Vs Cable

What are the Different Types of Streaming Protocols?

In the online video, the unsung heroes that deliver content from server to server are, streaming protocols.

What are Streaming Protocols?

We are watching videos without downloading them at once. And the streaming process happens smoothly piece by piece.

These tiny pieces are made possible by streaming protocols!

They are like the road rules for delivering video and audio over the internet. So, what then? They,

  • Break down the media into bite-sized pieces like cake
  • Send the chunks one by one to your device.
  • Reassemble the chunks on your device for uninterrupted playback.

There are various types of protocols. And, each protocol comes with its strengths and weaknesses, making it suitable for different situations and devices.

Here’s a glimpse at a few keys for the best video streaming servers:

Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP):

Details: It is typically used with Flash Player and is designed to meet low-latency live streaming.

Pros: Easy setup, low latency, best suitable for basic live streams.

Cons: Lacks security features and demands plugins as it is not supported by modern browsers.

Designed to meet the needs of smaller audiences on older platforms using low-latency live streams

Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP):

Details: Legacy protocol was originally put to use in delivering live video for entertainment.

Pros: The right protocol for specific use cases like video surveillance. Highly customizable and low latency.

Cons: It comes with a complex setup, is not supported by browsers, and demands separate protocols for data transport.

Designed for Specific apps like video surveillance and closed-circuit television (CCTV).

Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH):

Details: A Standard protocol for HTTP for adaptive bitrate streaming. It offers different quality levels across various devices based on network conditions.

Pros: High-quality videos, for large audiences, largely supported on modern devices.

Cons: Higher server load compared to HLS and slightly higher latency.

Designed to meet the needs of broad audiences across various devices delivering high-quality on-demand and live streaming.

HTTP Live Streaming (HLS):

Details: It’s a widely used Apple developed Protocol to carry out adaptive bitrate streaming on iOS and other platforms.

Pros: Efficient, low server load, suitable for mobile devices.

Cons: Less flexible than DASH. Got potential compatibility issues on non-Apple devices.

Designed for On-demand and live streaming, prioritizing mobile compatibility as a priority.

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC):

Details: Peer-to-peer real-time audio/video communication is made possible using open-source projects directly in web browsers.

Pros: Very low latency, no need for plugins, the best option to go for interactive applications.

Cons: Limited scalability. This may pave the way to demand device resources and network bandwidth.

Designs for real-time video conferencing, low-latency live streaming for small audiences, and interactive features like screen sharing.

Ultimately, the best protocol for your needs depends on several other factors:

Latency requirements: Ultra-low latency (WebRTC, RTMP) or less critical (DASH, HLS)

Target audience: Video streaming to desktop, mobile, or both (DASH, HLS)

Content type: Live content vs. on-demand content (RTMP, RTSP, DASH, HLS) or interactive content(WebRTC)

Technical expertise: Complexity of the setup and management (easier: HLS, DASH, harder: RTMP, RTSP)

What to Consider While Choosing the Best Video Streaming Servers?

To deliver smooth streaming to your audience you need to choose the right video streaming protocol. This plays a vital role in guaranteeing an enjoyable experience for your viewers.

How to get it done perfectly? Here are a few important factors to consider:

Type of Content:

1. Live vs. On-demand:

Live: RTMP and WebRTC are outstanding options for low-latency real-time experiences.

On-demand: HLS and DASH provide much better adaptability to varying internet speeds.

2. Quality of Video:

HLS and DASH can be chosen for higher quality streams with adaptive bitrate, while RTMP prioritizes speed over high quality.

Target audience:

Device compatibility: Modern devices support HLS and DASH, while RTMP may demand specific players.

Internet availability: SRT prioritizes reliability among challenging environments whereas DASH provides more flexibility for unstable connections.

Technical concerns:

Latency: RTMP and WebRTC provide limited features in the lowest latency while HLS and DASH show better adaptability but in higher latency.

Security: SRT protocols prioritize secure delivery, and HTTPS protocols (HLSs, DASHs) provide encryptions.

Implementation complexity: RTMP and WebRTC come with a need for a little more technical expertise. On the contrary HLS and DASH are widely supported and easier to implement.

Cost of streaming:

Licensing fees: A few protocols like HLS might have licensing costs while there are also some royalty-free protocols like WebRTC.

Infrastructure: SRT and WebRTC will ask for specific server configurations, while HLS and DASH are compatible with ongoing setups.

Additional factors to consider:

Scalability: Always pick the protocol that can handle traffic. It’s important to think of how your needs will grow in the future.

Customization: Look for those protocols that are flexible and allow tailoring of the streaming experience to fit your specific needs.

Support: Make sure that have access to adequate support for the chosen protocol. This comes in handy when you are encountering technical issues.

By considering these factors, you can opt for the best video streaming protocol that matches your specific demands and also delivers an optimal viewing experience for your audience.

What Determines the Cost of the Best Video streaming servers?

For service providers who are technically based on streaming protocols, the impact of streaming servers on their budget will be complex and multifaceted. Here’s a breakdown of the same:

Costs:

Infrastructure: Significant costs in streaming are due to the unavoidable requirement of robust servers, bandwidth, and content delivery networks (CDNs). It’s very important to maintain a reliable infrastructure and scale on par with demand.

Content Acquisition: The next significant expenses come from the content acquisition process. Expenses differ with the choice of the service, either its original content creation or licensing of existing content.

Technology: Another unavoidable expense is the development and maintenance cost of the existing streaming platforms. The impact of including features, security, and user experience, gets reflected in the expenses.

Marketing and User Acquisition: You cannot ignore to conduct marketing and promotional campaigns. This is done either to attract new users or retain subscribers, which in turn adds a handsome cost to the budget.

Benefits:

Subscription Revenue: Subscriptions are usually associated with different tiers and models (e.g., freemium, ad-supported, premium) these are the primary source of efficient revenue streams.

Data Insights: Carry out targeted advertising, personalized recommendations, and content development with the help of user data collected from the streaming activity. This valuable database has the potential to generate additional revenue.

Operational Efficiency: Streaming overpowers physical infrastructure like cable networks. This will potentially reduce the operational costs of video streaming in the long run.

Scalability: Adding servers and bandwidth to meet the user base growth is a seamlessly scalable process compared to the physical infrastructure limitations.

Considerations:

Competition: To retain and attract users you need to stay in the long run in the highly competitive streaming market with your innovation and differentiation. It impacts the budget for sure.

Regulations: The cost and operational strategies are influenced by Data privacy regulations, content licensing restrictions, and net neutrality rules.

Technology Evolution: There is a demand in budget allocation for upgrades and adaptation to keep up with evolving streaming technologies and user expectations.

Overall, Service providers find the best video streaming servers to be both cost-intensive and potentially lucrative.

To achieve financial stability and consistent growth in this dynamic market service providers need to take up careful budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning.

It’s also important to understand the type of service provider you are referring to.

To make it more easy for you to compare and learn check out the following table of the best video streaming servers as well as the cheapest video streaming service for service providers.

List of the Best Video Streaming Servers in 2024

The table below has a list of the best video streaming servers for service providers.

Remember there are many other video streaming servers available. I’ve listed the most preferred services.

Also, the cost provided here may vary based on the usage, features, and other factors.

Service ProviderProsConsCostBest For
Wowza Streaming EngineHighly customizable, reliable for large-scale deployments,
live & VOD support, robust security, advanced analytics
Complex setup & management,
higher cost, steeper learning curve
Varies based on needs
(On-premise or cloud-based,
licensing options)
Large broadcasters,
enterprises, organizations
with complex needs
DacastUser-friendly, cloud-based, good customer support,
various application support (education, webinars, enterprise),
monetization features
Limited customization compared to Wowza,
might not be ideal for large-scale deployments
Starts at $39/monthBusinesses and creators
of various sizes, good for beginners
Vimeo OTTSpecifically for OTT services, good for
subscription models, white-labeling
Limited customization compared to Wowza,
might not be suitable for all types of streaming applications
Starts at $100/monthOTT services, businesses focusing
on subscription-based video streaming
MuviAffordable, white-label options,
supports various monetization options
Limited customization compared to some options,
might not be as robust for very large-scale deployments
Starts at $19/monthStartups, individuals, businesses
prioritizing affordability and branding
Brightcove Video CloudHighly scalable, robust security features, good for
large enterprises, advanced analytics & reporting
Higher cost compared to some options,
complex features require technical expertise
Starts at $199/monthLarge enterprises, organizations with
strict security needs and complex workflows
Amazon Elemental MediaLiveCloud-based live streaming service with
various encoding options and integrations
Limited VOD capabilities, requires some AWS experiencePay-as-you-go pricingLive event broadcasters, organizations
needing flexible scaling for live streams
Microsoft Azure Media ServicesCloud-based platform for live and
VOD streaming with AI-powered features
Complex platform, requires technical expertisePay-as-you-go pricingEnterprises with AI and cloud integration needs,
organizations with diverse streaming requirements
List of the Best Video Streaming Servers

List of Affordable Video Streaming Servers in 2024

The following table has a list of affordable best video streaming servers for service providers. See to it that, it is not an exhaustive list.

Also, there are many other video streaming servers available. I’ve hand-picked a popular and affordable few from the massive lot.

The pricing mentioned can also vary based on the usage, features, and other factors.

Service ProviderPricingStreaming ProtocolKey FeaturesTechnical Considerations
Amazon TranscribePay-as-you-go based on usageHLSLive and VOD streaming,
DRM support, server-side ad insertion
Requires AWS account,
integration with other AWS services
Microsoft Azure Media ServicesPay-as-you-go based on usageHLS, DASHLive and VOD streaming,
multi-CDN support, encoding, analytics
Requires Azure account,
integration with other Azure services
BunnyCDNPay-as-you-go based on bandwidthHLS, DASHLive and VOD streaming,
global CDN network, low latency, API access
Requires integration with their API,
limited customization options
Mux VideoPer-minute pricingHLS, DASHLive and VOD streaming,
server-side ad insertion, detailed analytics
Requires integration with their API,
focus on developer experience
VimtoPay-as-you-go based on usageHLS, DASHLive and VOD streaming,
multi-CDN support, encoding, DRM support
Requires integration with their API,
focus on European market
Wowza Streaming EngineSubscription-basedHLS, DASH, RTMPLive and VOD streaming,
transcoding, recording, security features
Requires server installation,
complex configuration
BitmovinPay-as-you-go based on usageHLS, DASHLive and VOD streaming,
encoding, cloud storage, analytics
Requires integration with their API,
focus on high-quality video
Cloudflare StreamPay-as-you-go based on bandwidthHLSLive and VOD streaming,
global CDN network, low latency, DDoS protection
Requires integration with their API,
limited customization options
List of Affordable Video Streaming Servers

Wowza Media Server

Having mentioned Wowza and its key features along with cost, protocols, etc
in the tables above let’s explore the pros and cons of Wowza in detail, helping you decide if it aligns with your budget and requirements:

Pros:

Easily Customizable: Wowza’s on-premise and cloud-based software provides extensive customization options. This allows you to tailor the platform to suit your streaming specifications. This flexibility fulfils specific use cases and complex streaming setups.

Reliable for Large-Scale Deployments: Wowza is best suited for major broadcasters, enterprises, and organizations with significant demands. Its built can handle large audiences and high traffic volumes, making it highly scalable.

Live and VOD Support: Name it any scenario be it live streaming, on-demand content, or both, Wowza offers comprehensive solutions.

Robust Security Features: The streaming service prioritizes the security of our content and user data with the help of features like DRM integration, secure streaming protocols, and access control.

Advanced Analytics: Gain valuable insights into your audience behavior and content performance with detailed analytics tools built into the platform.

Cons:

Complex Setup and Management: Compared to simpler platforms this seems a bit less user-friendly. And, for the high level of customization, it will demand technical expertise and careful configuration.

Higher Cost: Wowza may look like a more expensive solution that too for smaller companies or individual users in comparison with a few of its competitors.

Steeper Learning Curve: If you lack prior streaming experience then getting used to the platform’s intricacies and managing technical aspects can be quite challenging.

Cost considerations:

I wouldn’t prefer to highlight specific costs or provide a rough estimation because Wowza’s pricing varies depending on your specific needs and the deployment model (on-premise vs. cloud).

You can find different options starting from individual licenses for smaller operations to enterprise-grade solutions for large-scale deployments. They offer various licensing options and packages.

Though it is not the cheapest option among the best video streaming servers, the cost is worthy of the platform’s robust features and scalability.
And above all, don’t misunderstand Wowza to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

It outstands in situations requiring high customization, reliability, and security for large-scale live or VOD streaming.

However, if you are the one who prioritizes affordability, and ease of use, or wishes to fulfill the demands of a smaller audience, please look for other service providers. You might find others more suitable.

Alternatives to consider:

Dacast: It is a user-friendly, cloud-based that’s apt for various apps with good customer support.

Vimeo OTT: This is primarily designed for OTT services. It has good subscription models and white-labeling.

Muvi: This is an affordable service that has white-label options, and also supports various monetization options.

Brightcove Video Cloud: Best pick for large enterprises as it comes with highly scalable, and robust security features.

Final Note

This quick but tremendous evolution from the cable box wars to the era of the best video streaming servers marks a commendable transformation in how entertainment gets consumed.

Being a developer for 10+ years, and with experience gathered from successful projects like short video app development, tiktok clone, live streaming, and more. I’ve shared what I’ve observed.

The video streaming market was initially valued at USD 250.01 billion in 2022.

And now, it’s predicted to grow from USD 295.3681 billion in 2023 to USD 1117.796564 billion in 2032.

And, undoubtedly this can be seen as one of those reasons that increases its market value.

The following graph pictures the growth in the video streaming market.

image 3

Be it the TikTok tech stack or the technical aspects of the best video streaming servers, it’s the advent of AI and blockchain paved the way for this monstrous growth in the video streaming market.

And, the one with flexible protocols becomes the most- preferred by the service providers.

In the ever-evolving best video streaming servers niche, the possibilities are boundless, and the only limit seems to be an entrepreneur’s imagination.

This blog must have made your vision clear before taking up this captivating journey, one stream at a time.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Entertainment consumption has been revolutionized by giving unparalleled choice, customization, and flexibility. This is due to the shift from cable to streaming servers.
  2. Technological advancements have ensured seamless streaming by overcoming initial challenges like buffering and compatibility issues, etc.
  3. Streaming protocols play a vital role in efficient content delivery. We have protocols that suit different use cases and requirements.
  4. While picking out the best video streaming servers or protocol factors like content type, audience demographics, technical expertise, and budget are essential.
  5. To effectively navigate the dynamic streaming market it’s important to take care of budgeting and strategic planning.
  6. We have platforms like Wowza that provide high customization and reliability for large-scale deployments, and at the same time, there are other options like Dacast, Vimeo OTT, Muvi, and Brightcove Video Cloud to meet users’ different needs and preferences.

On the whole, the era of the best video streaming servers is promising and growing with boundless opportunities for both consumers and service providers.

This contributes to the outburst of personalized, on-demand entertainment.

Agree? Let me know where you stand about the same. And, your thoughts on the behind-the-scenes tech heroes who are making the best video streaming servers possible.

Starting as an iOS developer and moving up to lead a mobile team at a startup, I've expanded my expertise into Project Management, DevOps and eventually becoming a COO in the IT sector. As a COO, I excel in team leadership, technical advice, and managing complex business functions, focusing on combining technology and operations to drive growth. I'm keen to connect for collaborations or to exchange insights in the tech world!


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