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The Costs of Live Streaming — Can Anyone Afford It?

how much does it cost to live stream

More and more people nowadays are taking up live streaming as a hobby or a tool to grow their businesses. But should that come as a surprise? After all, the live streaming industry has been gaining popularity throughout the last year, which is most evident in the fact that it has doubled in size between April 2019 and April 2020!

But the best part about live streaming is likely that it is so accessible and versatile. Namely, anyone can get into it without much hassle, and it can serve many purposes — growing a business, staying in touch with your loved ones, a source of entertainment in one’s pastime, etc. These very factors are the reason that experts predict that live video will only continue to grow in the years to follow. They even estimate it will reach a 17% share of all internet traffic by 2022!

However, if you’re a beginner who’s still looking for a guide on how to get into live streaming, you likely have one question in particular on your mind — how much does it cost to live stream?

Luckily, we’re here to help! The short answer would be — there is no fixed price to live streaming. However, we’re going to go into more detail than that. Oh, and rest assured, there are options for all budgets, so you will undoubtedly find a perfect arrangement for you. So without further ado, let’s begin by looking at the factors that influence the streaming cost.

Factors That Influence the Cost of Live Streaming

As we’ve just mentioned, multiple factors can affect the cost of live streaming. So let’s take a look at each in more detail:

Your Stream’s Complexity

Depending on the complexity of your stream, the prices will vary. Let us elaborate…

If you were to aim for a high-quality, professional stream of an event, for example, you’d likely have multiple video and audio sources. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, just think of any live sports event. That’s right — they are never a continuous shot.

With that in mind, you’d require more equipment and a team of engineers to handle all the live switching. And with that come extra costs such as gear fees and salaries.

Alternatively, if you were to stream from your mobile device or webcam, you’d be dealing with a single video and audio source, thus, saving a lot of money.

So depending on your stream’s complexity, your expenses can vary drastically.

The Duration of Your Broadcast

This factor can significantly influence how much it costs to live stream. However, that is not always the case. So here are multiple scenarios in which the duration of your broadcast can affect the price of your stream:

  • If you are using a premium video streaming platform that charges by bandwidth spent.
  • You are paying people to handle the post-production and filming side of things of your stream.
  • If you’re doing a collaboration stream and are paying your co-host for their time.

Luckily for you, if you stream independently as a hobby and are using a free streaming platform, you won’t have to worry about this factor. Otherwise, be mindful of your streams’ duration, for it can impact your costs significantly.

The Equipment You Use

This point shouldn’t even surprise you — you must make the initial investment of purchasing the appropriate filming gear before considering setting foot into the live streaming world.

Understandably, depending on your gear choice, you might get away without even a slight dent in your pocket or end up spending a small fortune. If you’re tight on cash, you can also start live streaming from your phone. But if you are planning to broadcast a highly-anticipated event, the last thing you want is for your audience to come to a pixelated slideshow.

So depending on your needs and budget, this category’s cost will vary greatly. Just remember it’s imperative to prepare adequately and don’t try to pinch pennies on gear when it’s not called for. Oh, and check our article on making the best professional video studio setup for some excellent equipment recommendations for all budgets. 

What Live Streaming Platform You Settle For

This point might be final on our list, but it’s far from irrelevant! Quite the contrary, settling for an adequate streaming platform can make or break your live streaming endeavors. Also, it can affect your revenue and the costs of live streaming significantly. But how is that? Let us elaborate.

The primary choices you have in this regard is picking between free and premium streaming services. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and each has different audiences. So depending on your business needs and target demographics, among other factors, you will have to think carefully when deciding. The reason is that choosing wrong can impact your revenue significantly.

However, the nuances of these types of platforms and how you should approach the selection process warrants its own, separate section. So without further ado, let’s move right to it!

How to Choose the Best Live Streaming Platform for Your Business Needs

Picking the best live streaming platform for your business needs can be challenging. There are many factors to consider, and if you’re a beginner in the live streaming world, you likely won’t know what to look for. That’s why we’re here to help! Let’s begin by inspecting a few questions you should ask yourself when you come to this predicament:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your live streams?
  • Do you have a website?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Is your audience on the platform you want to stream on?
  • What type of live streams do you wish to make?
  • Do you want to monetize your live content?

After you answer these, you can begin weighing your options. Free and premium live streaming services differ in many ways — their demographics, accessibility, variety of features and options, etc. So let’s take a look at what each excels at so that you can make an informed decision based on your answers to the above questions. 

Free Live Streaming Platforms

Free live streaming platforms hold the majority of the global live streaming market. The platforms leading the charge are Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook. So let’s take a look at the benefits and downsides of settling for one of these options:

Pros:

  • Anyone can get started streaming on them with nothing more than a mobile device or a webcam.
  • All of these platforms have an incredibly broad reach and consist of a vast range of different demographics.
  • They are best suited for gaming, art, just chatting, and IRL live streams.

Cons:

  • Most of these platforms don’t offer as many monetization opportunities as premium streaming services.
  • These platforms come with limited features and a lack of branding capabilities.
  • Businesses might have a hard time zeroing in on their audience due to the overwhelming amount of social and entertainment-oriented content on these platforms (except LinkedIn Live).

With all of that in mind, we’d be safe to conclude that these platforms are best suited for casual and entertainment streamers, while businesses and brands will have a better time elsewhere, although at higher live streaming costs. But before we move on to premium streaming services, let’s take a brief look at the most notable free streaming platforms.

Twitch

Twitch is one of the biggest live streaming platforms on the web currently, sporting over 15 million active daily viewers and 3 million broadcasters, according to Restream. The platform currently holds 73% of the market share by hours watched. Gaming content dominates the platform, with just-chatting streams following closely behind. Twitch is an excellent choice for all gamers looking to start live streaming their adventures.

YouTube Live

YouTube, being the largest video platform in the world, is the closest streaming competitor to Twitch. According to TechJury, 70% of users state that YouTube is their favorite streaming platform. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering that YouTube has a wider variety of content on its platform, meaning it caters to a much broader audience. So if you’re looking to stream something other than video games or an IRL stream, this platform might be perfect for you! However, YouTube does have one downside — you don’t have the option of mobile streaming before your channel reaches 1,000 subscribers. So keep that in mind if your only camera is your phone’s.

Social Media Streaming Platforms

Social media live streaming has been gaining a lot of traction lately, with most social networks introducing a streaming option for their users. So if you’re looking for an easy way to interact with your friends in real time, chat with your audience, or just broadcast your daily routine, this option is perfect for you. Here are the most prominent platforms you can settle for:

  • Facebook Live has been gaining an increasing amount of traction lately, with 1 in 5 videos on the platform now being live broadcasts. It is slowly but surely becoming a worthy competitor even to giants like YouTube. Oh, and since Facebook’s audience is enormous, your streams will have excellent reach.
  • Instagram Live has been a recent introduction to the platform, but everyone loved it! The platform now allows you to start a live broadcast that all your followers can join and enjoy. What’s more, the platform even offers you the option to enter joint broadcasts by sending an in-platform request. Talk about convenience and spontaneity! 
  • LinkedIn Live still has long ways to go to get on its feet. Still, the addition of live streaming to this business-oriented social media platform has had an overwhelmingly positive reception. If you’re an influencer in the business world or are just looking to get your brand out there at minimal cost, this option is perfect for you!

Now let’s check out the perks of premium live streaming platforms!

Premium Live Streaming Platforms

Unlike their free counterparts, premium streaming platforms are more tailored to business professionals, which has both its pros and cons:

Pros:

  • They offer a variety of monetization features.
  • These platforms ensure you can embed your live streams on your company’s website without much hassle.
  • Premium live streaming platforms often take care of all the hosting, encoding, and CDN needs of their users.
  • They allow you to customize your video player to represent your brand. 

Cons:

  • Your reach is much lower on these platforms (unless your website gets a lot of traffic)
  • These platforms’ suitability will highly depend on the type of content you wish to create.
  • They can get pricey at times, especially if you fall prey to hidden fees for going over your monthly limits.

Taking all of this info into account, we can say with certainty that these premium services are best suited for businesses looking to cater to their peers and professionally-oriented audiences but not mind incurring some live streaming costs. But how do you pick the best premium live streaming platform for your needs? Instead of giving you concrete examples, we will offer a brief checklist of what to pay attention to.

What to Look for When Choosing a Premium Streaming Platform

When you go searching for a streaming service for your business, you’ll undoubtedly want to find a high-quality, reliable platform. But how do you differentiate between a premium and mediocre service? Easily! Here are some of the characteristics of the best video streaming platforms out there:

  • Features like DVR, multiple quality renditions (including HD), and mobile live streaming are a must.
  • Includes services such as hosting, encoding, and CDN.
  • A variety of state-of-the-art monetization options.
  • A customizable and brandable video player.
  • They offer in-depth video and ad analytics.
  • Round the block available customer support team.
  • They follow a you-pay-for-what-you-spend model.
  • No hidden fees and no contractual obligation.

If you find a premium streaming service that checks all these boxes, you’ve got yourself a winner!

Live Streaming Doesn’t Have to Cost Much — Anyone Can Get Started Today!

Multiple factors can affect the costs of live streaming, but there is an option for every budget! However, make sure your choice of a streaming platform, equipment, and your stream’s complexity and duration don’t collide with your goals and needs. In other words, you have to pick appropriately

Perhaps the most critical selection will be of your live streaming service. If you wish to get into live streaming casually, you should probably opt for one of the many free streaming services. But if you’re looking to get your brand out there or stream your business events, a premium live streaming platform is the way to go. 

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and find the best platform for your needs! And if you are a business looking to get into live streaming and monetize their content, you could start your search here at Brid.TV. Check out our website to find out what we have to offer — you might just like it!

Best of luck to you!

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