6 Alternatives to Open Source Live Streaming Solution

6 Alternatives to Open Source Live Streaming Solution

With social media platforms offering Open source video streaming capabilities, going live was never this easy for an individual broadcaster. We have to admit that social media streaming has given a gem to the hands of the common smartphone or desktop users. Grab some basic equipment with a decent smartphone and internet connection, and you are ready to broadcast your stuff to the thousands of followers on your Facebook page or YouTube channel.

When individual creators are broadcasting for fun and earning, businesses are leveraging it for marketing, revenue-boosting, product promotion, brand educations, and even for customer support. In a very short sort span, the popularity of the genre has seen an unprecedented growth, and it is expected that live streaming business would cross the $70 billion mark by 2021. Indeed, it is a profitable market, and you would love to be a part of this.

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Are Open source live streaming services competent for professional grade streaming?

No doubt, gamers, and individual live streamers make some good money through YouTube Live and Twitch live. Indeed, the open source live video streaming providers like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitch, and periscope offer an array of amazing features, and it is easier to get a quick viewership from the existing base of followers on these platforms.

However, it is likewise crucial to note that open-source platforms are open source only because they lag on some critical stuff, which limits their implementation for a professional grade live streaming. These open source live streaming solutions lag the competency to let you realize live streaming as a business and lose many prospects to generate much more than what you make on YouTube Live or Twitch. Furthermore, for an already established business, using social media streaming as a dedicated live streaming solution means compromising with the aspects that are not being compromised by its competitors at all.

Drawbacks of Open source live streaming engines

  • They do not provide a white label service. You will stream under the brand of a selected live video streaming platform.
  • Video monetization is only through Ads, which is not enough for revenue generation by a business.
  • You cannot implement advanced monetization methods like subscription, pay-per-view, etc.
  • You cannot trust the stability of the platform, as it is more than just a live streaming solution. It is a social media platform with billions of users already active.
  • You have zero control over the rights, as the platform alone possesses the sole right on your videos.
  • The video quality of the stream is dependent on the platform and its ability to take-on loads without disturbing the stream quality.
  • You cannot control the streaming latency as platforms depend on their own DNS routing.
  • They offer limited bandwidth, which makes HD or 4K streaming nearly impossible.

Why do you need a dedicated live streaming solution?

Open-source solutions are inadequate to fulfill the advanced requirements of a professional-grade live streaming. To overcome the drawbacks, you need your own streaming engine with dedicated and content delivery network (CDN).

Luckily, you need not developing your own engine. There are streaming server companies, which provide ready-made APIs to let you integrate your own streaming channel with dedicated bandwidth and live streaming server. The developers use these APIs to integrate live streaming capabilities to their live streaming software.

Here is a list of features that you should necessarily look up while selecting the best suitable live video streaming software, built on these APIs-

  • White label service where you can customize its branding to fit your own brand identity.
  • Basic video monetization through options like creating subscription plans, imposing pay-per-view, embedding video ads etc.
  • Equipped with payment gateways to receive subscription payments from the viewers.
  • Basic security to protect customers’ payment and personal data.
  • 24X7-tech support to assist in case of any technical error.
  • Stream in high quality with low latency across the targeted regions of business.
  • Dynamic transcoding to offer flexible viewing based on different devices and bandwidth.
  • High-quality audio streaming with top-tier CDN delivery.
  • In-depth analytics to scrutinize the spread and performance of live streaming events. 

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Livestream alternatives to open-source solutions

Here is a list of top six live streaming API providers who offer turnkey solutions to integrate dedicated streaming capabilities to a range of devices and platforms-

1. Opentok Tokbox-

OpenTok is a popular WebRTC platform for embedding interactive video, voice and messaging on mobile and web platforms. It offer different APIs for a customized implementation of live video streaming on your website or mobile app. With its ready-made APIs, you can quickly access the comprehensive set of mobile solutions to get your mobile app ready and running with advanced features and cross-platform support. The embedded communications fused with a white-labeled API lets you design your own platform and integrate the live streaming capability with customized UI matching your own brand.

Features to highlight:

  • Live streaming on any platform WebRTC, Mobile, or Desktop.
  • Recording of live sessions
  • Video messaging
  • Live video chat

Pricing:

Adaptive pricing is available for all levels of usage: developers, business, and enterprises. Base price starts at $9.99/month and moves up as you go for the enterprise plans.

2. Twilio video-

With Twilio video API, you can have the access to make instant personal connections. Open-source software alone is not enough to get to the production scale required for professional grade live streaming. The Twilio video eliminates the drawbacks open-source live streaming solutions and offers a readymade platform to build a flexible, scalable, reliable and high-quality live video experience for your users with WebRTC and custom SDKs. With this turnkey API, developers can focus on the UI code while the logic to embed live streaming solution would be taken care by the Twilio API. Use anything from JS, iOS, Android SDKs to quickstart your live streaming platform on the go.

Features to highlight:

  • Peer-to-peer connection
  • Group Rooms for live interaction
  • REST orchestration & web hooks
  • Screen sharing and Co-browsing
  • Recordings of live interactions

Pricing:

Offers simple, flexible and contract-free pricing. The programmable Video plan starts at $0.0015/min per participant with features like SDKs for mobile and web, video recording, screen sharing, and supports up to 50 participants.

3. Wowza-

Wowza Streaming Engine, also known as Wowza Media Server, is one of the most popular live streaming providers. It offers a combined streaming solution used for streaming live as well as on-demand video and audio. The solutions support a wide range of applications over IP networks, desktop, laptop, tablets, mobile devices, IPTV set-top boxes, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. Being a Java application, it is deployable on most of the operating systems. The Wowza live streaming serves lets you broadcast your live video using any Encoder. In addition to the custom build solutions, the turnkey API lets you embed the Wowza streaming software on any third party live streaming app, website or platform.

Features to highlight:

  • Allows streaming from the phone over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G connections.
  • Supports Pause, Rewind and resuming of live streaming sessions
  • While labeled API can be embedded on any platform or mobile app.
  • Supports live streaming through CDNs for seamless user experience.

Pricing:

The plans for Wowza streaming cloud offering Managed Live-streaming services start from $49/month. The pricing goes up with the advanced add-ons like ultra-low latency, API, Event streaming solution, 24X7 streaming solutions etc. 

4. Agora io

Agora offers a turnkey API ready to deploy the features like voice call, video call, and interactive live broadcasting to your existing platform. With Agora Interactive Broadcasting for live streaming, you can add live video chat with interactive features like in-app messaging. The low ram consumption makes it best fit for developing game-streaming solutions with HD video and audio transmission. Agora has Data centers and streaming servers in all the major regions on the planet.

Features to highlight:

  • Smart Routing with real-time network monitoring
  • Seamless switch between host and audience
  • Recording live sessions
  • Supports CDN-Based Websites
  • Automatic transcoding
  • Third Party Integration Support

Pricing:

Pricing starts with $3.99/1000 minutes for streaming in 720P or greater quality.

5. Vidyo io

Vidyo.io allows developers to embed group video communications to their websites, mobiles apps, and platforms without needing to code one from scratch. It saves developers from re-inventing the wheel and allows them to use the ready-to-use API for integrating live video features to their touchpoints. Vidyo io uses Scalable Video Coding (SVC) to encode videos into discrete strata. It dynamically allows encoding of live videos into layers, which can increase or decrease the video resolution as per the varying bandwidth.

Features to highlight:

  • Dynamic switching of video quality
  • Optimized for mobile devices
  • Supports HD to 4K quality streaming
  • Recording of live videos
  • Uses local data centers to ensure HD streaming with the lowest latency

 Pricing:

Base pricing starts with 65/month offering the features like 6500 participant minutes per month, $0.01 for each additional participant minute, Group video chat, Customizable layouts, Screen sharing, Text chat, Mobile SDK (iOS, Android), Desktop SDK (Windows, Mac OS), Browser SDK (WebRTC, Plug-in), and RTMP Broadcast via media bridge.

6. Xirsys

Xirsys offers global turnkey server infrastructure for embedding streaming capabilities to the WebRTC applications. With data centers in nine regions including USA, Europe, China and Brazil, Xirsys is able to offer high-quality streaming with the lowest latency. Xirsys offer WebRTC cloud and WebRTC Servers to power up streaming solutions in almost every continent on the globe. 

Features to highlight

  • High quality streaming for Audio as video
  • Low Latency with Global DNS Routing
  • Data centers in nine major regions
  • Patented technology to provide distributed deployment architecture
  • Hosting of major WebRTC servers: Jitsi video bridge, Janus video room, Medooze etc.
  • Service and server accessible through readymade API

Pricing:

The basic monthly plan starts with $39/month with features like 50GB Bandwidth, 999.95 % uptime etc.

Which one is better?

If you wish to set up your own live streaming business, setting up your own streaming server would be same as re-inventing the wheel. Why invest so much of time and capital, when you can readily use the APIs from the above streaming engines. There are several challenges of setting up your own streaming server, if you think you can avoid these, you can surely set up your own streaming server for developing your own streaming application.

Challenges of running your own streaming server-

  • Latency- To ensure the lowest possible latency, streaming servers must be equipped with CDN servers set up in all the major reasons of the planet. Failing to do so will create a huge gap between the capture, transmission, and receiving of video and audio feeds to the final viewers.
  • Buffering- Streaming servers operate on a high bandwidth connection. Not all users have access to high-speed internet. As a result, many of the viewers would experience continuous buffering. Streaming API providers mitigate this by using dynamic switching of bit-rates and resolutions of the transmission.
  • Limits to scale- Limits apply to live streaming, as there are restrictions to the extent where only a finite number of streamers can go live at the same time. The cost and complexity of scaling servers, to involve as many streamers, is tough to manage. Only a dedicated business is expected to do it properly with dedicated men and tech power to realize it.
  • Security vulnerabilities- Running your own servers means being responsible for every implementation required to keep them secure and up. In a practical world, you would be working continuously to save your server from phishing attacks, piracy, and much more.

Running your own server is not easy. Especially when your primary focus is on developing a live streaming solution, you should not waste your efforts on doing what is already been done by the others. Just use their APIs, pay them the rent, and focus on developing the enhanced user experience for your live viewers.

You can pick any one of the alternatives that overcome all the drawbacks mentioned above and fit your intent of capital investment. Like we chose Wowza to power up our live streaming solution- StreamNow. With the APIs from Wowza, we were able to develop a readymade live streaming solution with cutting edge UI and features for professional grade broadcasting. In fact, the same API also powers our live streaming apps for Android and iOS. Just one ready-made API allowed us to develop a cross-platform solution that supports almost all possible devices.

 

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Case Study: How a VOD Platform Gained 4000+ Subscribers in Just 3 Months

Case Study: How a VOD Platform Gained 4000+ Subscribers in Just 3 Months

Entertainment can go hand in hand with education and value proposition to the real-life scenarios

We were introduced to the concept of NFaStudios as something that can fill the void between entertainment and education. According to Angelo, the founder of NFAStudios, a lot of entertainment is just about passing some time, there is nothing like learning curve in them. He had something unique in his mind. He was looking for a solution not just enough to serve the purpose, but also to propose a value in the regular life of his viewers.

Angelo found the Netflix business model, quite competent to serve what he has been aiming for. His focus was on creating and as we quote, “an on-demand commercial free viewing rather than live, ad-supported programming.”

The rapid change in the internet and on-demand video scenarios has propelled a need to disseminate content full of entertainment and knowledge. The traditional video channels and platforms find it difficult to accommodate the required genre of content. In particular, many big platforms have their own guidelines and policies, which refrain contents of a certain kind and with some unique propositions.

For example, people see politics as taboo and political leaders as just some vague speakers. It is because common people do not understand politics and its importance in society. The NEWS channels present political speeches with spices and many adulterations. The common audience hardly gets the gist of what those speeches mean to them. There could be many reasons for why common audience must gain a raw access to these educational speeches.

Political videos are just the highlight of what more Angelo wanted to display to his audience. He understood the advantages and power of good video content that can educate and entertain at the same time. The result was strong opinions formulating the path to do what other popular platforms are afraid of doing.

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The Content Objective

It was well important to have an idea of the kind of kind content Angelo wanted to have on the platform. Knowing this was important as it helped us preparing the first draft of the prototype. Considering the business plan, we could conclude that Angelo wanted to launch a video-on-demand service that would-

  • Let creators do what others are afraid to do.
  • Give small and talented creators a platform.
  • Give a platform to the influential content in its raw form without any adulteration.
  • Extend the array to include ‘Originals’ in the latter part of the business development.
  • Stream educational content rather than streaming unorganized live content or sports event.
  • Let viewers experience the spiritual and motivational speeches from real influencers.

The challenge

The business part and content curation were quite challenging for the client. However, for us, the only preliminary challenge was to fit our turnkey solution “Netflix Clone” into his business model. Luckily, the client wanted a similar platform like Netflix with the subscription model of revenue generation.

We had developed the Netflix clone -“StreamView” in response to various past queries for a Netflix-like VOD solution. No doubt, people wanted so, as Netflix is the first globally recognized VOD service with more than 103.95 million subscribers worldwide. We found our Netflix clone script best suited for the requirements. However, we were also required to do some modifications-

  • A fit Originals-The client wanted the ability to scale up the solution to fit “Originals” and many other types of content in the latter parts of the business development. In short, he wanted a solution fit enough to scale up the content and subscribers to count as the business grows.
  • Global Standards– The expected challenge was tailoring our existing script to let content creators have a platform for displaying video content and making it available for seamless, secure, anywhere-in-the world access by the NfaStudios subscribers and content partners.
  • Registration Flow-The base script supported both subscription and pay-per-view model. Hence, the script did not come with the “Registration Flow’ of access to the videos. The client just wanted the subscription model and intended to allow the access only after subscribing to the plans, just like Netflix.
  • Subscription Plans-Though the StreamView script already had the option to support multiple subscription plans, the challenge was to limit them onto two plans with client’s preferred plans. It just required some easy modifications in the existing codes.
  • Auto Renewal-Next challenge was to implement a Netflix like a free trial and Auto-renewal logic. The aim was to let users subscribe to the free trial with a selected plan, and then auto-renew the next month subscription with the same plan. Like Netflix, we were also supposed to let the subscribers cancel the subscriptions anytime.
  • Categories on Homepage-The StreamView script, by default, supported the display of categories on the homepage. However, the displayed categories were not in harmony with the categories listed on the menu, they also had some additional categories. We had to synchronize the menu categories with the ones shown on the homepage, that too in identical order after listing the default categories above them.

Requirements: Automatically fulfilled by the default Script

In addition to the modifications and tailoring required to the existing Netflix clone script, the client also served us with many other requirements. Luckily, our existing script had most of them already. Here are few of the fulfilled requirements for the reference-

[table id=1 /]

The implementation 

Requirement-

The central part of the initial multimedia strategy involved streaming video-on-demand. Coupled with Streamhash’s Netflix clone, the first strategy to scale up the platform and let subscribers across the planet to access them was automatically fulfilled by the default script. 

As the IT team initiated to gather business requirements, the project broadened beyond the initial impressions where we aimed to cover the entire spectrum of a VOD business with the more sophisticated user experience. The client’s intention to scale up the content in later parts and redesigning the interface to match the brand’s identity was our first priority-

Technology Utilized-

  • Bootstrap as Frontend Framework.
  • Nginx Server For Streaming Video
  • API Documentations.
  • DigitalOcean Server for Hosting.
  • Google Cloud Messaging.
  • YouTube Player.
  • Angular JS for Frontend UI.
  • REDIS Server and Queue Concept for Compressing and Converting Video Resolution.
  • PayPal Payment Gateway Integrated.
  • BitBucket for Version Control.
  • Facebook API Integrated.
  • JW Player.
  • Laravel 5.2 as Backend
  • MYSQL to Save Data.
  • SMTP to Emails.
  • Google API.

Process and Approach

Design

Angelo needed a powerful design and development for a streamlined user experience. Our aim with designing principles focused on –

  • Building and managing a huge database of subscriber profiles and video content.
  • Ensuring seamless interaction between subscribers, high-quality videos and corresponding membership plans
  • Ensuring safer online transaction with a secure payment gateway.
  • Streamlining the website flow according to the Registration flow model.

Keeping the fundamentals in our sense, we advanced with the initial designing phase. The style and design preference focused on keeping the brand identity proficient, refined and trustworthy. Hence, with mutual consent, we settled on the color pallet, which was a mix of black, light blue, and white. Blue is the colour of the sky. It is frequently associated with depth and stability. The color also displays the NFAStudio’s unique proposition and creative content base. Thus, after numerous trials, we finalized the pallet and implemented a clean and balanced UI matching the brand identity and contemporary design requirements.

Prototype

We started with HTML as the base code and came up with a blueprint of the website. This helped us to clear the doubts, as we came across some further requirements after discussing the prototype. Finally, we ended up with our final website design after understanding the precise needs.

Development

It is important to comprehend the ever-changing needs of a VOD platform. Hence, we assigned the project to a dedicated 8-members team-

  1. One Project Manager
  2. One Technical Architect
  3. One quality Analyst
  4. Two website developers
  5. One website designer
  6. One Android developer
  7. One iOS developer

Each member was precisely briefed about the project. We focussed on stressing on the fact that the client needs a flexible and scalable platform for onboarding users from across the USA and other parts of the world in latter parts. Moreover, we also customized the registration flow to work only according to the subscription-based model (no access to the website without subscription). Without any scope for compromise in the user experience and scalability, the development team finally came up with the actual script.

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Testing

Post-development phase, the eight-membered team started testing the whole project, while they were managing the workflow through Trello board. After each phase of the Manual, Functional, and automated testing, the project manager and Technical architect would check for the quality and enhancement possibilities. Taking the feedbacks, the development team would again work on the rectifications and transfer the task to the testing team.

After some repeated cycles on the grounds like Stream quality, integration and user experience trials etc. we came up with the beta phase of the project.

The Beta Phase

We piloted a marketing cum live testing campaign through Native Advertising. The campaign targeted around 4500 users. The live user analytics and feedback helped us to test our project in a crucial real-life environment, different from what we tested on our systems.

We also organized a tech talk where we explained and tested the project with 40 men and women from our workspace. Based on the feedback and analytics, we further fine-tuned the functionalities and optimized the user experience.

Mobile Apps

Based on the development done on the web version of the platform, we came up with the mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. We synchronized both the mobile apps to the web version in terms of–

  • Content synchronization
  • User Synchronization

Special care: While developing this multi-device VOD platform, we took a special care to make sure that the following requirements are rigorously fulfilled:

  • A user can gain the access corresponding to the subscribed plan.
  • The total number of simultaneous logins is limited as per the subscription plans.
  • This is similar to Netflix’s maximum number of allowed simultaneous logins.
  • It means that if a user subscribes to a plan that offers only one login at a time, he or she cannot log in on the laptop if already logged on the mobile app.

Outcome

As of today, the stable versions of the website and both the mobile apps are live. They are performing well and attracting many users. The service is currently offering the base subscription for $9.99/MONTH with cancel anytime facility.

 

The Live Android and iOS Apps in Official App stores

The subscribers can access the content from anywhere: Mobile, tablet or desktop.

The business is steadily growing its roots. With certain unique propositions like the only subscription-based video streaming platform to offer access to historical lectures by The Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It is also offering some Premium Original Content related to politics. The most recent breakthrough shows such as 40 Miles, How to eat to live, and Food Nation are responsible for attracting an array of new users to the platform.

As of now, the NFA Studios has acquired more than 4000 subscribers in about three months. It offers both monthly and yearly plans, with an additional free trial period. The trial subscribers can choose to-

  • Continue with the selected plan after the free trial.
  • Change the plan while renewing the subscription.
  • Cancel the subscription any time, without any commitment.

The client speaks and as we quote

When asked the Founder of NFAStudios on his experience with StreamView and StreamHash, here is what he says:

Question 1: What made you start NFAStudios?

We started NFAStudios because we felt it was a void in what we call “Edu-tainment”, or being educated and entertained at the same time. A lot of entertainment is just that, entertainment. People are being entertained but walking away with nothing that enhances them as a person. We want to entertain but also teach and help people learn, enhance themselves, their lives, those around them and walk away better people.

Question 2: What makes NFAStudios stand out from the crowd?

NFA Studios stands out because we are doing what others are afraid or unable to do. And that provides entertainment that not only entertains but raises the quality of life of the viewer.

Question 3: Who are NFAStudios customers?

NFA customers are people of all ages, races, and religious backgrounds, who want a different alternative from the entertainment currently provided by mass media.

Question 4: How did you find StreamHash?

We found StreamHash by googling “Netflix style website themes”. It took us several weeks of searching to find the best match for us but the best ended up being StreamHash

Question 5: What challenges were you experiencing prior to purchasing our product or service?

We experienced many challenges prior to purchasing StreamHash. Other developers we contacting said they could do the job but in reality, when we hired them, the fell short of what they promised. Or if they could develop the site we wanted there styling and design was not up to par. We experienced this with several different software development companies.

Question 6: How were the initial conversations with StreamHash Sales team? Can you specify how easy it was to gather requirements and kick off the project?

StreamHash has an exceptional sales team! We got on the phone with them and within a day or so we were up and rolling. There sales team is very friendly and easy to work with and answered all our question which made it very easy for us to move forward.

Question 7: How was your experience with StreamHash during the development process?

For the past few months since the soft-launch of our site, we have been working closely with the StreamHash tech team on the development of our site. The StreamHash team makes the development process very enjoyable. They are great on communication, usually responded immediately to any questions or concerns. And when matters are pressing they do not hesitate to get on a Skype call to solve the issue. Working with the StreamHash tech team on the development of our site has been AMAZING, to say the least! This is just the beginning of a great partnership; we hope to continue to work with StreamHash on this project and future projects.

 

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