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Video: Choosing a Web Distribution Platform

Learn more about web distribution platforms at Streaming Media West.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Jan Ozer: Distribution platforms are web services designed primarily to deliver one incoming stream to multiple outputs. The first system we're going to talk about are Switchboard Live, which is, I reviewed Switchboard Live in its original name (which was Joicaster) [http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Joicaster-Review-A-Simple-Platform-for-Live-Video-Distribution-108778.aspx] about a year ago. It was the first platform I'd ever seen that allowed you to send a single stream in and send it out to multiple streams.

Basically what it looks like in Switchboard Live is you have all these destinations, and then you choose and configure the destination. And then when you go live, you basically press the Stream button and whichever ones are selected get a stream. So, it's a very, very simple way to support multiple streams, and as we'll see, it's pretty affordable as well.

So here's your typical customer, big and small companies, basically anybody who needs this functionality from an individual user to an Enterprise client. And this is where we see some of the counterpoints to the arguments for individual, multiple encoders in-house. Bandwidth costs at venues are very, very expensive, and if you need advanced features like an isolated VLAN, that's going to cost you even more.

I think if you're going to support multiple output platforms in a practical way, you're going to want a cloud distribution system like this. You may want a production system if you need additional functionality, but I think this is the way to go. You've got bandwidth costs. If you've got multiple hardware devices, you may need multiple operators. That's an additional cost. Why use this system as compared to Wowza or a similar platform? I think the answers here are quite accurate. Wowza is geared for technical users. It's not a system you want to send your marketing staff or your promotion staff to try and use.

All the products are a whole lot easier to use than Wowza. Wowza is not hard to use; it's just a developer-oriented product. And as a developer-oriented product, you need a different class of user. Switchboard Live in particular, I found simple to use and very functional. I liked it.

What features should you consider? There are a couple products like this. How do you choose this one, or choose this one over others? The ability to send an email to get a user involved and get them to a page. The ability to stop and start publishing to live destinations independently. An API. The ability to embed an HTML5 player. For embedding purposes, if you want to embed a player in your own website as well as distribute on Facebook Live, you can do that with the system. And the ability to support multiple ingestion points and kind of put them together into one presentation.

Which platforms can you distribute to? Pretty much any RTMP-based live-streaming destination or platform. They have an API integrated with LiveU Solo, that's a non-camera type device. They're here at the show as well. And listed as destinations within OBS and LiveU Central, that basically means it's easy to use within the open broadcaster system software and LiveU Central. And they're working on deeper integrations that'll add that level of ease-of-use with other live production systems.

What does it cost? There's a free version that gives you one stream to up to three destinations and then there's a $25 a month version that gives you one stream to up to five locations. And there's some extras. If you want transrating, that's going to cost you $10 each. Custom RTMP is going to cost you $10 as well. But this is up on their website and larger companies will have different pricing structures for this capability.

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Video: Choosing a Streaming Production Platform

In this clip from Live Streaming Summit, Jan Ozer looks at streaming production platforms, which add functionality like overlays, PiP, stream insertion, etc. to what you get with distribution platforms.

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