Table of Contents
- DaCast Full Review
- Key Features
- DaCast vs. the Competition
- Is DaCast Right for You?
- Starts at $19/month (billed annually) on the Starter Plan, up to $289/month (billed annually) for Enterprise users.
- 30-day free trial (no credit card required).
DaCast Full Review
DaCast offers a professional out-of-the-box service that supports live streaming and hosting of on-demand video content. Launched in 2008, the company has grown into one of the largest online streaming platforms: it has more than 114,000 broadcasters worldwide, including T.V. stations, educational companies, governments and OTT companies.
DaCast distributes content via Akamai, the world’s largest content delivery network, to offer enhanced security, improved speed and consistent quality on all devices. An adaptive video player supports multi-bitrate streaming and helps reduce buffering, providing users with an exceptional viewing experience.
To help your company maintain consistent branding, DaCast allows you to customize the video player and add a watermark logo to protect your content. A native video player can be integrated into your website (via embeddable links) or shared in your Twitter and Facebook feeds. For custom integrations, DaCast offers API access to the video player and content management system. Although you will need a developer’s help, the API allows you to build a highly customized streaming service from the DaCast platform.
DaCast has several monetization options, including adding Subscriptions or the Pay-per-view option to your channel. Although these are easy to set up, only USD and EUR are accepted for credit card and PayPal transactions. There is a steep commission for all revenue (9.9%) and transaction fees for each purchase.
However, at only $19/month, DaCast offers an extremely affordable entry-level plan. This is perfect if you are new to streaming and don’t have many viewers or you’re not planning on broadcasting frequently. However, choosing the right plan depends on a range of factors. For example, the Starter Plan will be more than enough for a weekly HD broadcast to 100 viewers (30 minutes per viewer); on the other hand, if you plan to release daily broadcasts that have the same parameters, you might want to opt for the Premium Plan, which offers more bandwidth so that you can grow your audience.
Below are the key features of DaCast and how they can benefit your business.
Live Streaming Video
DaCast offers a simple streaming solution, allowing organizations and individuals to broadcast high-quality live videos from their websites. Live streaming can be useful for broadcasting events, conferences, educational content and webinars to global audiences in real-time.
Before you start live streaming with DaCast, you will need to set up a camera, a microphone (if audio is required) and an encoder. An encoder converts your content into RTMP (real-time messaging protocol), a live streaming format. This allows your video host provider (DaCast) to distribute your live stream via an extensive network of servers.
DaCast includes OBS Studio (a free encoder), which is recommended for beginners. However, you may want a paid encoder as you grow your audience because OBS Studio doesn’t support multi-bitrate encoding, which can hinder viewers that select a lower or higher quality stream according to their bandwidth. Although the initial encoder setup can confuse new users, DaCast has several instructional blog posts that walk you through the entire process. Doing your homework on the required components is still worthwhile, however.
To start streaming, you will need to create a “Live Channel.” For non-technical broadcasters, DaCast has an intuitive interface that simplifies this process. By default, DaCast uses the industry standard HTML5, which allows you to stream on all devices (tablet, mobile and desktop). There are other options in case you need a low latency or m3u8 channel.
Once your channel has been created, you can add a category, splash screen and video description. However, this is only required if you use the DaCast Viewer Portal; it isn’t necessary if you’re planning to distribute content on your own website. DaCast has other settings, including options to add a password, adjust the player theme, incorporate Google Analytics and limit your stream to specific locations.
Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be an excellent way to connect with your followers. Embeddable Facebook and Twitter links are available to share, allowing viewers to launch the video directly from your social media feed. While both platforms offer their own “Live” streaming service, you might want to use DaCast for analytics and keeping all your videos in one place.
Besides live streaming, DaCast allows publishers to host videos and create video-on-demand (VOD) channels. The platform is compatible with several video file formats (MP3, MP4, MOV and AAC) and can convert from and to formats. Videos up to 2GB in size can be uploaded on the platform (larger files require FTP, and uploading them is a slightly more technical process, requiring familiarity with an FTP client, such as FileZilla).
Publishers can upload their own videos to DaCast or use the platform to host previous live streams. Videos can be grouped together in playlists and displayed as a Netflix-style channel. Your audience can then play selected videos on different devices at their convenience.
Customizable Video Player
DaCast recently launched an improved default video player. Replacing the original video.js-based player, this video player incorporates HTML5 technology and ensures better playback quality on every device. This is particularly important if you want to generate revenue from your live video streams.
DaCast includes a white label solution, allowing you to style certain aspects of the video player (such as color and font) to suit your website. You can add a watermark logo to protect your content and improve your branding. This can help provide viewers with a more consistent experience: you can build multiple channels that all have the same look and feel. White labeling is available with all plans, so you can start building your brand with your first live stream.
Businesses can use the Player API to integrate with popular advertising networks (such as Google DoubleClick and LiveRail) via VAST (video ad serving template). This allows you to display ads within your video player and build up an additional revenue stream. DaCast has recently advised support for pre-roll ads (displayed before the viewable content) via the VAST2, VAST3, VPAID and VMAP ad networks. Pre-roll ads are fairly easy to set up: include the ad URL (provided by your ad network or ad server) directly in the video(s).
DaCast allows you to earn revenue from your live streaming and VOD channels by charging viewers to access premium content. Paywalls are available only with Event Plans offering more than 5TB of data and plans that are Premium and above. To secure all transactions, DaCast uses an integrated payment system that offers full SSL encryption.
There are two ways to collect payments: setting up a Subscription plan and charging videos on a Pay-per-view basis. Subscriptions are ideal if you release new content regularly and want a predictable revenue stream. However, if you run live events or distribute one-off videos, you might want to consider Pay-per-view. This provides more control: broadcasters can schedule access at a specific time (e.g., at the start of an event), restrict the duration of access (e.g., 5 hours of viewing) and set up to three different prices per video stream.
DaCast is a great option if you want to combine live streaming with paid video-on-demand. However, if you’re looking for a video hosting solution only to monetize training programs, online courses or other content, Uscreen may be more suitable.
DaCast has brilliant analytics for assessing both HTML5 and low latency live video streams. Businesses can track real-time data consumption by location, number of concurrent viewers, total number of times a video was played, and more. Analyzing this information during your live streams can enhance the quality of your channel and reduce risks. For example, DaCast will shut down your live stream if you exceed your monthly bandwidth, so keeping a close eye on data usage is essential. However, there is an option to set up Overage Protection, which is activated once you exceed your monthly bandwidth limit. The additional charges start at $0.30/GB (on the Starter or Pro Plans) and $0.20/GB (on the Premium Plan).
There are several other kinds of analytics, including revenue reports, overall viewership and data consumption. Hits and Visitors is a useful report. You can filter this report by content type (live stream, video-on-demand, package or playlist) and analyze how enticing your content is and how engaged your viewers are. For example, if you register four unique visitors and 20 hits in a week for a recently added video, you know that your content has been visited multiple times by the same viewers! You can dig deeper into the data and determine how long each person spends watching your content and their location.
DaCast vs. the Competition
Below, we'll take a look at how DaCast fares against some of its competitors.
DaCast vs. Uscreen
DaCast and Uscreen are both video hosting platforms; however, the two companies serve different audiences. Uscreen is a white label video-on-demand platform that allows businesses to set up and sell video content online. Uscreen doesn’t include any live streaming functionality and is mainly for companies that want to build a profitable subscription-based VOD channel. Uscreen has no limits on video hosting/storage and offers unlimited streaming with all plans. The company includes an intuitive drag-and-drop website builder that allows you to customize and showcase your video-on-demand content.
DaCast, on the other hand, is an all-in-one platform that supports both live streaming and on-demand video content. Although businesses can broadcast events in real-time, the platform is not set up for hosting the same way Uscreen is. DaCast users have to pay for storage regardless of the plan they are on; this can quickly add up for users who host a lot of video content. Therefore, the low entry-level price makes DaCast an excellent option for users who primarily want to engage audiences with live streaming and who host only the occasional video. If you’re looking to build a solid VOD channel, Uscreen is an ideal choice.
DaCast vs. Wistia
Wistia is a professional video hosting platform that allows businesses to safely store and share content with clients, employees and partners. It includes a customizable player, lead generation tools and advanced analytics to help businesses track how viewers interact with videos.
While DaCast offers both live streaming and video hosting, Wistia is solely a video hosting platform for businesses. It doesn’t support any live streaming and includes only 10 free hosted videos with the Pro Plan (additional videos cost $0.25/month per video).
If you support ongoing marketing initiatives and want to use video for staff training, recruitment, sales presentations or business-to-business communication, Wistia is a smart choice. However, the lack of live streaming functionality means broadcasters need to look for dedicated platforms, making DaCast is a suitable option.
DaCast vs. IBM Cloud Video (Formerly UStream)
IBM Video Cloud (formerly UStream) was one of the largest streaming platforms on the market and a popular alternative to DaCast. Although this live streaming platform has kept its UStream branding, the company was acquired in 2016 to complement IBM’s expansive range of cloud-based products.
"Streaming Manager" is the core product, and the software has a range of features similar to DaCast’s features, including an integrated video player, embeddable links, custom branding and cloud transcoding. IBM uses an internal multi-CDN delivery with adaptive bitrate to ensure smooth playback on all devices. Both companies have similar monetization offerings: Subscriptions and Pay-per-view options. DaCast is one of the few companies to offer ad-free viewing with all plans, while IBM Cloud Video includes only 100 ad-free hours.
IBM Video Cloud can be much more expensive than DaCast. The Silver plan (entry level) starts at $99/month, which is substantially more than DaCast’s Starter plan ($19/month). White label features are limited to IBM Video Cloud’s Gold Plan ($499/month), and businesses can keep full branding control only on the Platinum Plan ($999/month). While DaCast caters to small and medium-sized companies, IBM Cloud Video is much more suitable for enterprises looking to maximize their existing video offerings.
Is DaCast Right for You?
Video content continues to grow in popularity and is projected to account for 82% of all online consumer traffic by 2021. DaCast is one of the first video streaming and video hosting platforms designed to be a cloud-based SaaS (streaming-as-a-service) solution. The platform supports small and medium-sized businesses and is used by thousands of organizations around the globe.
There are several inexpensive ways to embed video content, but, if you’re looking to stream live content on your website or social media page, DaCast is one of the most affordable options on the market. Multiple white labeling options allow you to customize the video player to reflect your branding, and delivery of the content over the Akamai network enhances the user experience.
The platform has a simple interface and 24/7 online support, making it ideal for users that lack experience. Companies that are already using DaCast can add new features and build a tailored streaming solution via the APIs.