Live Streaming Costs

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Live streaming costs is one of the topics we are most often asked to explain, so here’s my stab at outlining the factors involved from a PlanetStream point of view. Obviously you’ve also got to provide cameras, other hardware and an internet connection.

Here goes:

The hardest thing to figure out is how many viewers you will get as that is the biggest influence on cost. The cost of the service is based on three things and I’ll explain those so you can give them some thought.

Image Quality
This is expressed in Kilobits per second (Kbps) and the more Kbps the higher the quality. Generally the lowest quality you would use for video is 300 Kbps which will look good in a smallish window but not so good on a full screen. The most common quality used is 800 Kbps which whilst not quite up to the standard of a DVD is really pretty good. Anything above that might not be appreciated by many viewers as their internet connection could become the limiting factor.

Viewing Time
The longer you broadcast, the more it costs, as you would expect.

Number of Viewing Minutes
This is the hard one to work out as it is often a mixture of guesswork and wishful thinking. You need to figure out not only how many people will watch the broadcast but also how much of it, on average, they will watch. There is a big difference between 100 viewers watching all of a 1 hour broadcast and 500 viewers watching 5 minutes of a 1 hour broadcast. Two things can help you with this.

Firstly we have a “Live Streaming Calculator” that allows you to play around with the above three numbers to see the effect of different scenarios. Secondly our streaming plans allow to quickly and easily upgrade from a small capacity plan to a larger one. This means you can start cautiously but react quickly to increase capacity if you need to. Take a look at packages for Internet TV and Radio to get an idea of the options. For one off events just use the costs generated by the calculator.



  1. tony
    April 5th

    Costing for live streaming just got more complex! Mainly because of the technical issues involved in streaming to Apple devices – iPhones, iPads especially. With Apple computers it’s not been much of a problem as they run Flash very nicely but with phones and tablets that option is not really viable.

    I think we’ve got the answer so expect some major announcements in the next few weeks.

  2. Dave
    August 24th

    This is the most useless article I’ve ever read. All I need is a number of dollars per kilobyte of data per second to stream, not a vague statement like “the biggest influence on cost” is “how many viewers you will get” (does this mean the cost per kilobyte per second increases per user?!) and obvious statements like “The longer you broadcast, the more it costs”.

    If the first statement is based on the cost of streaming increasing per user, then that’s something to consider. Of course, that’s backwards to normal supply costs, where the more you produce the cheaper it is. If it’s just based on usage costing the same per user but more for more users… well that’s a default assumption given no further information and a completely obvious and pointless statement.

    I’m wondering why PlanetStream even printed this article; why would they not want to just say how much per kilobyte per second video streaming costs? If there’s variations per user when the total number of users increases, at least state the variations!

    Off to Google again…

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