Ant Media Server Logo
Ant Media Server
4.9
  • Open-source software
  • Free version available on GitHub
  • 0.5-second latency
Best Free Option
Visit Ant Media Server
Ant Media Server is a free, open-source livestreaming application with a totally free option available on GitHub. While some users will prefer a more tailored experience, Ant Media Server is the best free and open-source livestreaming platform available in 2021. The free version has longer latency delays, and it's also missing some advanced features like Android and iOS SDKs plus email support from the developers. But it still comes with more than enough for small streamers who are looking for a way to get started for free.

Low stream delays are another one of the advantages of Ant Media Server. According to their website, subscribers can expect end-to-end latency of roughly a half of a second, ensuring that streamers can offer near-instant delivery and even interact with their audience in real-time. The GitHub page for the community edition provides information about recent updates, but there have only been two releases in 2021.

Pricing for Ant Media Server depends on whether you're looking for a cloud or on-premises deployment. The community edition is free for self-hosting or Linode, but you can also upgrade to a paid license depending on your deployment. Enterprise licenses offer additional features for $89 per month, or as little as $49 per month when paid every three years. You can get a perpetual license for $1,999, but you'll still have to pay a $299 update fee after the first year. Ant Media Server is also available on Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Alibaba Cloud, and DigitalOcean.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Open-source software
  • Free version available on GitHub
  • 0.5-second latency

Cons

  • Can be expensive

What Customers Are Saying

Ant Media isn't as well-known as household names like IBM and Vimeo, but its audience seems to be happy with the platform. Several reviewers noted that Ant Media was more flexible and scalable than other livestreaming applications they had experience with.

Summary

Ant Media Server Logo
Ant Media Server
  • Starting Price
    • Enterprise Edition License: $89/month
    • Perpetual License: $1999
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Tiral and Free version available
  • Platforms Approved On
    iOS, Android Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.9
Be.Live Logo
Be.Live
4.1
  • Industry-leading ease of use
  • Convenient iOS app
  • Set up simultaneous streams on multiple channels
Easiest to Use
Visit Be.Live
If you're looking for livestreaming software, you probably don't want to waste any time getting started or configuring your streams. While Be.Live offers helpful customization tools for things like logos, intros, and outros, it's the simplest platform we've seen in terms of getting up and running. Its clean, intuitive interface makes it easy to find what you're looking for, and the robust iOS app enables users to start streams from any location. All things considered, Be.Live is the easiest livestreaming platform to use in 2021.

Be.Live also gives subscribers the chance to stream content to multiple channels at the same time. With support for Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more of the most popular platforms, you can connect with your audience seamlessly, regardless of their preferred channel. Users can also add guests to their streams for podcasts, interviews, webinars, and other forms of content.

While you can access the Be.Live platform for free, free users are limited to three shows per month and display Be.Live branding on all streams. At $19.49 per month, Standard comes with a more professional set of features including unlimited streams, custom branding, four on-screen participants, and simultaneous streaming on up to five channels. However, the most advanced tools like 1080p streams, multicamera streaming, and priority support are limited to the Pro tier ($29.24 per month).

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Industry-leading ease of use
  • Convenient iOS app
  • Set up simultaneous streams on multiple channels

Cons

  • Free tier comes with Be.Live branding

What Customers Are Saying

While Be.Live doesn't quite have the best reviews we've seen from a livestreaming platform, feedback is still generally positive. Users like the application's ease of use as well as its relatively affordable prices relative to competing providers.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Standard+: $24.99/month
    • Pro: $37.50/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Tiral and Free version available
  • Platforms Approved On
    Facebook & YouTube
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.1
Brightcove Logo
Brightcove
4.0
  • Flexible interactive content
  • Receives consistent updates
  • Offices on four different continents
Best for Interactive Content
Visit Brightcove
While several of the most popular livestreaming platforms support at least some interactive elements, Brightcove is notable for its versatile interactive elements. Brightcove acquired HapYak, a leader in the interactive video market, in October 2021. With the implementation of HapYak's solution, Brightcove users can now configure a variety of interactive elements easily, including forms, URL overlays, quizzes, calls to action (CTA), in-video purchases, and even choose-your-own-adventure paths. It's the best livestreaming solution in 2021 for creators that want to make interactivity a key element in their content strategy.

Brightcove typically gets at least one update per month, with most new releases focusing on bug fixes and other minor changes. Aside from the acquisition of HapYak, the Brightcove player doesn't appear to have received any major alterations in 2020 or 2021. Meanwhile, the consistent release schedule shows that the Brightcove team is attentive to any issues their customers are experiencing.

If you're interested in leveraging the Brightcove platform, you should contact them directly to access a trial, schedule a demo, or talk to their sales team. They have offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and South Korea, giving them more of an international reach than most of the other providers we've covered.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexible interactive content
  • Receives consistent updates
  • Offices on four different continents

Cons

  • No preset subscriptions

What Customers Are Saying

Brightcove has mostly positive reviews, but we also found mixed feedback from many users. The most common complaints centered around the platform's interface, with some reviewers also criticizing its relatively limited analytic features.

Summary

Brightcove Logo
Brightcove
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.0
Dacast Logo
Dacast
4.3
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Strong support for monetization
  • 30-day free trial
Best Customer Service
Visit Dacast
While every livestreaming service we've covered offers some level of customer support, Dacast stands out for its 24/7 availability. We also found several users who reported positive experiences with the service team including quick and informative responses. Dacast even offers phone support with certain subscription tiers or as a separate add-on, enabling users to get in touch with their team even more quickly. There's also a comprehensive knowledge base with answers to common questions, making Dacast the livestreaming software with the best overall customer service we've seen in 2021.

On top of strong support, Dacast offers all the features most streamers need to create, share, and monetize their content. It comes with secure video hosting and flexible monetization options including subscriptions, paywalls, and live events, with conversion available for a long list of international currencies. Users can also take advantage of thorough analytics to extract actionable insights from stream data.

If you're new to Dacast, you can get started with a 30-day free trial that includes 10 GB of free bandwidth. After that, subscriptions start at $39 per month billed annually for the Starter tier, which comes with 50 GB of storage, 1.2 TB of streaming bandwidth per year, and support for 1080p streams with unlimited viewers. The Event ($63 per month billed annually) and Scale ($188 per month billed annually) plans increase the storage and streaming limits and introduce other features like phone support, chapter markers, and real-time analytics. High-volume users should contact Dacast directly for more information about a custom Enterprise solution.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding customer service
  • Strong support for monetization
  • 30-day free trial

Cons

  • Limited customer reviews

What Customers Are Saying

The consistent customer service is what stood out to us when reading through reviews of the Dacast platform. Some reviewers also noted that they found Dacast more affordable for their use case relative to many of the alternatives.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Starter: $39/month
    • Event: $63/month
    • Scale: $188/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.3
IBM Streaming Logo
IBM Streaming
3.6
  • Supports interactive content during videos
  • Robust analytic features
  • Up to 4K transcoding
Best for Enterprise Users
Visit IBM Streaming
Most livestreaming platforms target small- to midsized streamers, but it's tough to beat IBM if you're creating content for a larger organization. IBM Streaming is an ideal fit for video marketing, especially for enterprise clients that need more dedicated support. Subscribers can access a deep range of analytic tools and even take advantage of IBM's live production services. There's also support for interactive elements like sign-up forms, chat rooms, question and answer sessions, polls, and more, making IBM the best streaming platform for enterprise users in 2021.

IBM is compatible with streams of up to 4K resolution, although 4K transcoding is only available in custom subscriptions for high-volume users. All plans come with customer support through phone and live chat plus access to IBM's API and SDK, opening up possibilities for custom integrations based on your use case. IBM is also impressive when it comes to video delivery with quality-of-life tools like live captioning, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven search, and access to a CDN.

New users can test out the IBM Streaming platform for a full 30 days at no charge. After that, subscriptions are available from $99 per month for the Silver tier. Silver users are limited to 100 viewer hours per month, 1 TB of storage, five channels, and 720p transcoding. Those limits are raised significantly with the Gold ($499 per month) and Platinum ($999 per month) plans. Custom subscriptions offer variable limits plus advanced features like SSO and 4K transcoding.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Supports interactive content during videos
  • Robust analytic features
  • Up to 4K transcoding

Cons

  • Less practical for small streamers

What Customers Are Saying

We were surprised to find mixed reviews and a relatively low volume of feedback for IBM's streaming platform. Several reviewers criticized the platform's audience chat tool, while others experienced slowdowns and other technical issues.

Summary

IBM Streaming Logo
IBM Streaming
  • Starting Price
    • Silver: $113.85/month
    • Gold: $573.85/month
    • Platinum: $1,148.85/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 3.6
JW Player Logo
JW Player
4.1
  • 30-day free trial with 25 GB hosting, 75 GB streaming, plus SDK and API access
  • Receives regular updates
  • Custom enterprise solutions available
Best Free Trial
Visit JW Player
With so many livestreaming platforms out there, you don't want to spend any money until you're sure you've found the software that's right for you. The JW Player team is confident enough in their product to offer an incredibly generous free trial. New users can test out the platform for a full 30 days while leveraging 25 GB of hosting, 75 GB of total streaming, and full access to their software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface (API). That makes JW Player the livestreaming service with the best overall free trial in 2021.

JW Player also continues to receive active support from the developers, with several new releases coming out in October 2021 alone for some of the platform's clients. The iOS update, for example, introduced support for double-tapping to fast forward and rewind. However, the desktop release is more focused on developer tools. That update enabled new AMP attributes for a variety of options like customizable player controls and adding page metadata to ad tags.

After the 30-day free trial, you can maintain access to JW Player for as little as $10 per month for the Starter tier. However, this tier is limited to 50,000 plays of your videos per month, which could lead to bottlenecking for some creators. JW Player also provides custom enterprise solutions for larger streamers, so contact their team directly if you think you need more than the Starter plan offers.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 30-day free trial with 25 GB hosting, 75 GB streaming, plus SDK and API access
  • Receives regular updates
  • Custom enterprise solutions available

Cons

  • No ongoing free option

What Customers Are Saying

Unfortunately, JW Player has only received a small number of reviews, and customers have mixed opinions on its overall value. Several reviewers felt that they were paying too much for it while others criticized the aesthetics and functionality of the platform's interface.

Summary

JW Player Logo
JW Player
  • Starting Price
    • Starter: $10/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Tiral and Free version available
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.1
Kaltura Logo
Kaltura
4.2
  • Powerful tools for educators
  • Open-source Community Edition available
  • Consistent updates
Best for Education
Visit Kaltura
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect educational institutions around the country and world, many schools are looking for a reliable e-learning solution. While Kaltura offers more than just educational streaming services, their K12 Video Cloud Platform is ideally suited for primary and secondary education. Their virtual classrooms come with all the features you need to facilitate digital learning including screen sharing, whiteboards, breakout rooms, quizzes, and more. Kaltura also integrates with common educational platforms like Blackboard, Canvas, and Brightspace, making it the best livestreaming software for education in 2021.

Along with educational content, Kaltura supports a variety of other videos, such as town halls, virtual events, and video messages. Various applications in the Kaltura platform including the management console, meeting client, and video conferencing mobile app each receive regular updates and bug fixes, demonstrating the company's ongoing focus on the customer experience. Kaltura also recently released an online discussion board that makes it easy for users to exchange tips and ideas with the rest of the Kaltura community.

The free Kaltura Community Edition is a self-hosted platform that's available on GitHub. However, most users will likely be interested in their commercial solution, which comes in three basic packages: Learning and Development, Communication and Collaboration, and Marketing and Sales. Users can start with a free 30-day trial of any of those three or mix and match their features to form a custom subscription.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Powerful tools for educators
  • Open-source Community Edition available
  • Consistent updates

Cons

  • Mixed user reviews

What Customers Are Saying

Kaltura's commercial video platform is relatively popular, and users are especially satisfied with its ease of use as well as the team's dedication to improving the platform. With that being said, several users complained about performance issues with the Kaltura mobile app on iOS.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.2
Muvi Logo
Muvi
4.2
  • Flexible monetization options
  • 24/7/365 support available
  • Built-in SEO features
Best Content Monetization
Visit Muvi
While platforms like YouTube and Vimeo are extremely popular among content creators, they also limit the ways in which you can monetize your content. Whether you want to earn money through ads, subscriptions, rentals, pay-per-view (PPV) events, or another revenue stream, Muvi has you covered. You can even create coupons and promo codes to give your audience access to exclusive discounts. Muvi is our pick for the livestreaming software with the best content monetization in 2021 due to the unique options it offers for creatives of all kinds.

Furthermore, Muvi is compatible with a long list of different devices and operating systems including iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Chromecast, and LG TV. Its SEO features include automatic XML sitemaps along with customizable titles, meta tags, and meta descriptions, plus integrations with key SEO applications like Google Webmaster and Google Analytics. Muvi subscribers can even accept payments in a wide range of currencies covering dollars and pounds as well as other international currencies, mobile wallets, and even cryptocurrencies.

Muvi is one of the most expensive applications we've looked at, with subscriptions starting at $399 per month for the Standard tier. While you'll get 15% off for paying annually or 10% off paying twice a year, that still only brings the price down to around $340 or $360 per month. Subsequent tiers come in at $1,499, $3,900, and $8,999 per month, making Muvi a better choice for established content creators rather than novice streamers.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexible monetization options
  • 24/7/365 support available
  • Built-in SEO features

Cons

  • Plans start at $399 per month

What Customers Are Saying

While Muvi hasn't generated as much user feedback as some of the alternatives we've looked at, the reviews it has received are overwhelmingly positive. We found that customers are particularly satisfied with its flexible revenue streams along with its strong SEO capabilities.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Standard: $399/month
    • Professional: $1,499/month
    • Enterprise: $3,900/month
    • Ultimate: $8,900/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Tiral and Free version available
  • Platforms Approved On
    iOS, Android Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.2
Vimeo Logo
Vimeo
4.5
  • Outstanding user reviews
  • SSO and internal messaging tools
  • 30-day free trial
Best User Reviews
Visit Vimeo
We made an effort to show you applications that have received strong feedback from existing users, but Vimeo still stands out from the competition when it comes to user reviews. While some alternatives have a higher raw score, Vimeo has an impressive 4.5 average rating across a much larger sample size — more than 1,000 total reviews across different channels. With that in mind, it was an easy choice as the livestreaming platform with the best user reviews we've seen in 2021.

Vimeo offers all the features you would expect from a livestreaming service, including 1080p streams, custom branding, and interactive elements like polls and question and answer sessions. Enterprise users can access extra tools, such as single sign-on (SSO) and automatic stream backups, to integrate Vimeo into their existing workflow. Vimeo also provides the tools you need to monetize your content and reach new viewers.

The free Basic tier is surprisingly robust for smaller projects with 5 GB of account storage, 500 MB of weekly uploads, and a 30-second limit on videos. The other key downside is that videos produced by Basic users come with a Vimeo watermark. The Plus plan at $7 per month billed annually, Pro plan at $20 per month billed annually, and Premium plan at $75 per month billed annually are mostly distinguished by upload limits and advanced tools like chat, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and polls that are limited to the Premium tier. Enterprise clients can contact Vimeo for a custom solution, and new users can start with a 30-day free trial of any of the three pre-set tiers.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding user reviews
  • SSO and internal messaging tools
  • 30-day free trial

Cons

  • Unclear overages

What Customers Are Saying

Vimeo has the best and most consistent reviews of any livestreaming application in 2021. Customers appreciate how easy Vimeo makes it to embed HD videos on different websites with no ads, pop-ups, or other distracting elements.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Premium: $75/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV, Tizen TV, and Universal Windows Platform
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.5
Wowza Logo
Wowza
4.4
  • Flexible pricing system
  • Supports 4K streaming
  • 30-day free trial
Best Pricing
Visit Wowza
Most livestreaming services use a relatively rigid pricing scheme, but the reality is that clients use their platforms for a wide range of projects. Whether you want to broadcast a one-time event, create recurring streams, or even stream content around the clock, you'll be limited to the same subscription options. However, Wowza offers more consumer-friendly prices that don't require you to pay for more than you need. With one-time, pay-as-you-go, monthly plans, real-time and 24/7 subscriptions available, it's the livestreaming platform with the most flexible pricing in 2021.

Furthermore, Wowza partners with Akamai to provide a reliable content delivery network that gives subscribers decent coverage around the world. The content delivery network (CDN) is included with all streaming subscriptions, and most users report exceptional reliability with the Wowza platform. Wowza supports high-definition (HD) and ultra HD (UHD) 4K streams, helping you deliver content at the highest possible resolution. They also offer several different types of customer service including online tickets, one-on-one chat, and even dedicated support for live events.

One potentially confusing aspect of Wowza is that they offer a service called "Streaming Cloud," plus another called "Streaming Engine," which can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud. The Streaming Cloud is designed to get streams up and running as quickly as possible, and they specifically recommend it for "live event streaming with minimal setup." Streaming Cloud access starts at $149 for a one-time purchase, which covers 15 streaming hours and 500 viewing hours. For ongoing access, you can pay $29 per month plus extra for usage or $99 per month for a plan that covers up to 15 streaming hours and 500 viewing hours per month. As mentioned above, there are also separate subscriptions available for real-time streaming, 24/7 streaming, and the Wowza Streaming Engine.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexible pricing system
  • Supports 4K streaming
  • 30-day free trial

Cons

  • Limited customer reviews

What Customers Are Saying

Wowza has only received a small number of user reviews, but customers who have left feedback appear to be satisfied with the platform. We found especially strong praise for the application's ease of use as well as the quality of Wowza's customer service.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Price starts at less than $85/month
  • Free Trial/Free Demo
    Free Trial
  • Platforms Approved On
    Not provided
  • Secure Streaming
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4

How We Chose the Best Livestreaming Software

Whether you're just starting out as a streamer or you already have hundreds of loyal fans, you need a livestreaming application to provide reliable playback and engage with your audience.

Some livestreaming software is designed for businesses and other organizations, while other alternatives are intended for entertainers and content creators. There's no single best option when it comes to livestreaming applications. We considered these four criteria when looking for the best overall platforms available in 2021.

Functionality

Of course, you need to make sure you find a platform that offers the features you need to optimize your digital presence. The right service for you will depend on your budget as well as the details of your streaming setup.

If you're streaming 4K content, for example, you need a streaming service that can match that resolution. We covered each application's key features and focused on tools that may be useful in specific use cases. Muvi, for example, offers the most robust functionality of any livestreaming application with respect to content monetization.

Pricing

While you can easily spend hundreds of dollars per month on livestreaming, most streamers don't need to break the bank to access the features they need. We've covered the top deals for every budget to help match you with the livestreaming platform that offers the most value for your money.

For example, Muvi offers robust monetization and SEO features, but the cheapest subscription tier starts at $399 per month. Small-scale streamers might be better off with a platform like JW Player, which offers robust streaming tools for as little as $10 per month.

Ease of Use

Some livestreaming applications look like they're from the future, but some still look like they're from five years ago or longer. Livestreaming is complicated enough on its own — you don't want to waste any time trying to navigate a complex or outdated interface.

It's impossible to objectively evaluate an application's visual design, but we looked for software that's relatively easy for a new user to pick up. We also checked customer reviews to learn how real users feel about each application.

Customer Service

If you experience any technical issues while using your livestreaming service, you should be able to rely on the developers or support staff to help you resolve the issue. While customer service is always important, it's particularly crucial for content creators who can't afford any glitches during a stream.

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