When I started my channels I had a hell of a time understanding what video hosting I really needed. In the years that have followed I learned a lot and now I’m going to share with you some of the do’s, don’ts and really don’t do it’s.
It Really Depends on your Content Library
One of my first IPTV jobs was for Larry Overman of the SciFi Channel show “Ghost Mine”. Larry had a plan to install camera’s through-out his haunted mine and have an online portal for fans to subscribe and watch live the happenings of the mine.
The initial problem was where to get that much video bandwidth. At the time there was only a few companies offering what Larry needed so he signed a deal with uStream.
Once the software was built and the website was ready to take subscriptions it was quickly apparent that the demand vs the costs were not adding up. Even with Larry’s established fan base and plenty of radio & TV appearances, it was to much cost to handle.
Just after that project ended I decided to take the knowledge I had gained to open up my own channel (known as Conspiracy Channel). Seeing the mistakes made on the previous project I realized the Video-on-Demand was much cheaper. For $200/year I could get 1 TB of data and unlimited plays from Vimeo Pro.
Over time as the channel has grown in videos and viewers those costs have increased from the $200/year to $500/month. This still is quite a bit cheaper than paying for a 24×7 live stream and allows me to operate the channel on a small niche audience.
If you plan on doing live, you WILL need quite a bit of money to pay the initial costs of getting started.
Video on demand is the best method for those who are just starting.
How much data transfers and storage do you need?
Another tricky question but I do have a few rules I follow when doing consulting for new channels (rules are different for established networks).
The first thing is to take all of the content you already have “in the can” and ready to be broadcast. Figure out how much you want to release in the first 6 months of operations.
Take the amount of space that content will use and multiple it by 2. This is how much data storage you will need.
Data Transfer rates are a lot more tricky. It really depends on the size of your library vs the amount of viewers.
For example, in August I launched an “ad supported” version of the Conspiracy Channel. In the first month we burnt 35 terabytes of data. Yikes!
This was primarily due to us launching with a full catalog of 200 films and series with some content being over 4 hours long.
When you release your Roku app and you have done a good job with your branding, you may gain 10,000+ new viewers in a month! However if you are in a smaller niche market, you may only gain a few thousand subscribers.
What options do you have for video hosting?
These days you have quite a bit of options for video hosting and each of them has their strength and weakness.
Amazon S3 with CloudFront
S3 is by far the most complicated of this group, but also the cheapest. You really have to do everything yourself from encoding the video files, creating the HLS streams and more. You should be extremely tech savvy if you plan on using this method.
DaCast, MetaCDN and others
The next step up is more pricey but offers a lot more in the way of support and ease-of-use. I can’t recommend a specific company as they all are balanced for various needs. Just do your research and ask lots of questions before you sign a deal with them.
Vimeo Pro & Business
Starting at $200/year for Vimeo Pro and $500/year for Vimeo Business, these are great options for subscription or rental models. You don’t get unlimited bandwidth as you don’t use the Vimeo player, but it is more than enough to start a pay-per-view or subscription service.
If you want to start an ad supported channel, it will also work however if you get popular Vimeo will ask you to move up to the custom plans which are quite a bit more expensive but offer the best options for the price.
It really comes down to the needs of your channels. Sometimes you may have to limit the amount of content at the start so you can build up the money to fund more space. It’s all a balancing act 🙂
But if you need help, feel free to use the contact form to ask me or you can approach sales reps for each of the companies with some confidence you will get solid answers.