This article is for all you potential live streamers out there who have questions about the cost of live streaming an event, in particular: “Does live streaming cost money?” and/or “How much does live streaming cost?”
While we can’t speak for all providers, we can offer insight on how the live streaming industry works. We can also share information about how we price live streaming here at Stretch, and which pricing structure works best for most of our clients.
“Does live streaming cost money?”
We’ve heard this question many times—and the short answer is sometimes.
There are free social media platforms, like YouTube Live and Facebook Live, that allow you to live stream an event for free (other than the cost of any equipment you may have purchased for production).
The best live streams are also the most carefully planned. Download our complete list of must-have equipment and detailed task lists to make your next production flawless.
These no-cost live streaming options probably sound great—and they may even be great for a short while—but beware: You don’t get what you don’t pay for. The platforms are free, which means you’ll have no operational support, and no one to turn to for advice on how to maximize your use of the platform or put together a first-rate broadcast. You’re entirely on your own.
If you’d like to provide a better experience for your viewers by producing a high-quality, professional broadcast, you’ll want to choose to pay a live streaming platform provider instead.
Live Streaming Costs: What You’re Paying For When You Choose A Provider
If you decide to go with a platform provider, you’ll be paying for two things: people and technology. But these services will vary depending on which provider you choose.
Some providers actually offer very little in the way of support—despite the fact that you’re paying for it. In some cases you’ll get email support only, and it’s your responsibility to monitor your own broadcast and catch problems as they arise.
On top of that, many providers turn bandwidth usage into a guessing game by arriving at a rough monthly or event cost by way of a live streaming cost calculator. (The more people that watch a live stream the more bandwidth it consumes, so bandwidth is one of the biggest factors in the cost of live streaming an event.) These providers price your live streaming on the following variables:
- The number of events you expect to live stream
- The size of your expected audience
- The bitrate you plan to use
The problem with this method is that your actual live streaming costs are up in the air until after the broadcast is complete. And if you go over the amount you estimated—for instance, your audience is larger than you thought it would be, or you want to stream an extra event or two—you’ll have to pay overage charges to make up the difference. (And frankly, we don’t see how getting penalized for producing a popular broadcast is a solid path to success.)
Stretch Live Streaming Costs: What You’re Paying For When You Choose Us
At Stretch, you’ll always get what you pay for, straight up, without any guesstimating. There are two huge benefits to going with Stretch:
- Superior customer support. When we sign on a new client we factor in the cost of our excellent support. Our “freakishly good support” goes beyond that of most live streaming providers: We’ll monitor your broadcasts to ensure they go smoothly (we notify you if something goes wrong!), and we have a team of people working behind the scenes to help resolve any troubleshooting or viewer issues.
- A “no surprises” pricing model. At Stretch, you’ll always know exactly what you’ll pay and what you’ll get. Depending on the partner and type of industry, we can offer the following models:
- A yearly flat rate for unlimited live streaming. This option comes at a discount because we’re able to secure lower bandwidth pricing in advance. Plus, you can stream as many events as you want and eat as much bandwidth as you want without having to worry about too many viewers – or bandwidth rates going up six months down the line. (A long-term, discounted payment plan is most likely the best choice at any provider—as long as you’ve done your homework and feel confident that you’ve found the right live streaming partner for the long haul.)
- A monthly plan for unlimited streaming. This plan ensures you’re not locked into a full year contract if you think your live streaming plans could change. It’s a bit more expensive than the yearly rate, but for some clients the flexibility may be worth the cost—and you still don’t have to worry about bandwidth.
- Pay-per-event. If you have just a few events to live stream or you won’t be live streaming consistently, this plan might be right for you. You still pay a single rate, regardless of number of viewers (we want you to be successful!).
Keep in mind that we’re discussing models for partners who want to make their content available to users for free. We also offer pay-per-view options, which can eliminate out-of-pocket costs altogether and provide a substantial revenue stream back to you.
Plus, with Stretch as a partner, you’ll always have access to the latest live streaming tools and features—like a universal HTML5 video player and automatic archiving of every event—and have a trusted source of technical advice at all times, both of which will help make your broadcast the best it can possibly be.
Need more information about live streaming costs?
Let us help! Whether you have questions about Stretch or about the cost of live streaming an event in general, get in touch and we’ll help you find the answers.