Dacast vs Wowza - Live Streaming Providers
This post is related to real world experience. I am not a professional blogger hired to promote any service or help rankings in Google searches. I am a small business owner that provides customers with Live Streaming. We are not a large company and at the moment are operating during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
During these very tough times for many industries such as ours (Audio Visual), many small family owned businesses such as mine are making adjustments to bring in whatever revenue they can. My motivation to post this blog is to help others looking for a way to live stream that is cost effective and reliable. I also want to share the experience I have had with both of these streaming providers.
I have been using Wowza for years. It doesn't seem that long ago that streaming was very hard to do. One had to obtain the knowledge to do this. There was no book you could read to learn. In order to do live streaming, you needed to know how to operate a server. There wasn't much in the way of an interface to just click enter and "Boom" your video is live and on-line.
From my experience, Wowza was the first vendor I could use to stream live video. At first, there was the learning curve and I had to learn some basics with operating a server. After a few years, Wowza came up with a user interface that made everything a lot easier. Their service was very reliable and we did a lot of successful live streams. Although we do not rely so much on Wowza these days, we still have an open account and can stream with them at any time. We are pretty much using them if we have some sort of emergency situation.
Since the pandemic has greatly increased our Live Streaming events, we started to realize that our costs to live stream were getting pretty high. I decided to branch out and try some other vendors in order to reduce the costs.
In doing all of this research, I would keep finding Dacast posts pretty much at the top of every Google search. I realized that they were using a blog to basically advertise their services. It appears that they hire professional bloggers to write stories about live video streaming. This gets them up in the searches without having to pay for very expensive Google pay per clicks. Pretty slick... To make a long story short, I had an emergency situation involving 3 live streams at the same time. It was the night before and something wasn't right. Either the encoders I was using or the streaming server I was using was down and I couldn't test anything. It was after Midnight and I had to get something working. I decided to jump into Dacast because I had no other choice. Right after I signed up (had to pay for 3 months - $750), I tried to get everything set-up with them. After about 1am I wasn't able to test the encoders we use. Something wasn't working. I was tired and very very worried that the next day would be a total disaster. Luckily in the morning, all 3 encoders worked fine with the original vendor and all 3 live streams went off without a hitch. A few days went by and I now had to figure out why my encoders would not work with Dacast. After hours of texting tech support it was revealed to me that Dacast has an issue with our encoders. I was told to wait about a month as they were working on a solution. I also found out that they do not offer transcoding......
What is Transcoding?
If you don't know what this is, you will now..... at the time of this posting, Dacast does not provide transcoding. This is the most important part of streaming, without a doubt! Transcoding is a process that a streaming server does. In basic terminology, transcoding is the process of a server receiving a live stream and than creating several other lower quality renditions of that same video. A server that does transcoding usually creates 4 - 6 different versions of a live stream. For example, we often send streaming servers a 1080p live video at a pretty high bit rate. The transcoder process on a server will create smaller size streams such as 720p and other lower size streams as well. Why is this so important? It is very important as there are devices and places around the world that don't have enough bandwidth to playback a 1080p video. So, a transcoder will basically provide these devices a lower quality video without buffering and other problems that may occur. Also, small phones don't really need such a large video as their screens are very very small and a lower quality video will look beautiful. You may have noticed this feature on media players. For example, youtube video players will have an icon of a gear. Clicking that will reveal all of the available renditions of the video that you can play back.
Dacast does not do transcoding? Seriously? This feature has been available for years. It is really a standard now. Facebook, youtube, Vimeo, Wowza, Boxcast, and many more all provide this. It is my assumption that Dacast's technology is old. Probably 10 years ago, before any of these vendors provided transcoding, there was a way to create various renditions for playback. In order to do this, we would have to create the several renditions and send them at the same time ourselves. It was a very nice thing to have 10 years ago. The only issue with this, is that the equipment had a hard time processing all of this and the bandwidth wasn't really available to do it.
In my recent experience with Dacast, not only was I upset that their servers would not work with my encoders, but I was more upset that they didn't provide transcoding. You would think that with all of their blogs and knowledge being thrown out they would be a leader in the industry. Something is very wrong over there. When I discussed transcoding with them, their solution was for me to send them multiple streams. As I mentioned earlier, this is not the way to go these days. I really expected them to provide a refund. Not happening, all I keep getting form them is some additional streaming or hosting time. I would never charge a customer of mine for something they didn't get. Not a good way to do business. One more thing... I'm certain that due to Covid they are experiencing a huge increase in their revenue. Wouldn't it be the right thing to do and refund the $750 that this small family run business really needs during this time?
In closing, stay away from Dacast until they offer transcoding. Please remember this story if and when they do get around to upgrading their servers. Don't be fooled by all of their blog advertising. As far as Wowza goes, very reliable. If you have a very important stream and don't mind the cost being a bit higher, I would highly recommend using them.
As I mentioned before, I am not a professional blogger. I hope I can create some more of these blogs to help anyone out there that may benefit. I did use Vimeo for live streaming. I did have some issues with them. At present I am using Boxcast. I will try and provide more info on these providers at a later date. The encoders that I mentioned earlier are LiveU Solo's. Very happy with them at present. Earlier on I was using Teradek cubes. They consistently failed me and that is why I went with the LiveU Solo units. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.