If your organization is thinking about live streaming its events, one of the first questions that will undoubtedly come up is “So, how much does it cost?”
Let's break it down. This post will outline three main factors to consider when determining your budget.
When it comes to live streaming, you need a way to convert the video from your camera into a format that can be watched online. That’s exactly what your encoder does. An encoder captures your content, compresses it, and sends it to the internet so that it can be watched by your audience.
As far as encoder cost is concerned, there’s a wide range of available pricing. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find encoders for anywhere from $200 to 20,000.
When you’re weighing your options, you’ll find that there are hardware encoders – pieces of equipment solely devoted to encoding – and software encoders – programs that run on your computer. The thing is, computers weren’t made to encode. Encoders are.
Not only are hardware encoders often cheaper than their software counterparts, but they typically offer a more responsive experience, including smoother graphics and much higher frame rates. Hardware encoders also feature video specific inputs such as SDI and XLR inputs, such as on the BoxCaster Pro.
Another variable to factor into your streaming costs is your camera. While cameras range in cost from under $200 to over $8,000, the one you choose will ultimately depend on your video production capability and what you’re looking to do with your stream.
Some questions to consider include:
What features are most important to you?
What quality level would you like to capture video in? 720? 1080p? 2K? 4K?
Will you use your camera in various environments (indoor/outdoor)?
How many camera angles do you want to incorporate into your stream?
There are myriad wonderful camera options on the market, but deciphering between the various options can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re just starting to stream or are looking to upgrade your production, this article lists our favorite options: The Best Live Streaming Equipment for Every Level.
Live Streaming Provider
The live streaming provider you choose will absolutely impact your streaming costs. You have many providers to choose from, all of whom offer different features at different costs. Choosing the right streaming solution, however, can be complex.
Some solutions, like Facebook Live and YouTube Live, are “free.” But there are inherent “costs” to those solutions, including that you won’t have a support team ready to help you should something go wrong and that you’re at risk of irrelevant and/or embarrassing ads interrupting your stream. (We wish pastors were kidding when they’ve told us horror stories of Trojan condom ads interrupting their free Sunday Service live streams.)
When you decide that a great streaming service is something worth paying for, you’ll find that companies charge anywhere from $19.99/month to upwards of $1,500/month for unlimited video streaming.
Make sure to challenge streaming companies on how they define “unlimited.” Some companies may cap the amount of viewers your streams can have before bumping you into a new price plan. Other companies may cap the amount of events you’re allowed to stream per month.
At BoxCast, when we say “Unlimited Streaming,” we truly mean unlimited — as many events and as many viewers as you’d like. Stream to your heart's content!
With such varying price tags, it’s important you know exactly what you’re getting. As you talk to sales reps, be sure to ask these questions:
What is included in the quoted price?
Are there additional costs for increased viewership or storage?
Are there additional costs for extra features?
Are there discounts for annual vs monthly payments?
Do I have to sign a contract or is this month-to-month?
Are there startup costs such as cameras and equipment or one-time fees?