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  1. #1
    andhow's Avatar
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    Stream Host Pricing

    I have been doing a bit of research on stream hosting. I am trying to make sense on how they justify their stream host pricing. A typical 128k SC stream with 100 slots for instance, most of the prices are in the range of US$90-100 a month. (I cannot fathom why it costs this much.) I have found a few that have the same service but only charge about US$25-40 a month. I guess I am trying to get my head around how they justify that much of a price difference?!? Of course I am not including the "unlimited" streaming plans for "unlimited" users as they appear a bit dodgy. I have used quite a few stream hosts in the past few years and have experienced good and bad customer service. I cannot say that I have found that much of a difference in the quality of their streams though. But price does not seem to be the defining factor on what kind of customer service you will receive. The hosts that claim 100% up-time are the really comedic ones. My wife and I are both in IT customer service delivery sector and even large corporate service providers cannot guarantee 100% up-time.

    Has anyone else done this type of research? What were your results? Please no stream host providers wanting to "toot their own horn", but honest knowledgeable answers from experienced broadcasters. I would like to get to the bottom of this issue!

    What are we looking for in a stream host provider? Nothing fancy. Port 80. No Auto DJ as we do everything live from our studio. We currently use about 1-1.5 TB of traffic a month. I like the stats in Centova that report least popular tracks to help with our programming. WHMSonic apparently does not offer that.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by andhow; 04-27-2014 at 04:30 AM.
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  2. #2

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    If a stream host can and does advertise uptime is 99.9% what is the need for staff to justify the higher pricing. Just curious?

  3. #3
    djsoft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHONWAYNE View Post
    If a stream host can and does advertise uptime is 99.9% what is the need for staff to justify the higher pricing. Just curious?
    Staff still needed. Uptime issues are not the only reason why customers contact support.
    What is your definition of "high pricing" by the way?
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by djsoft View Post
    Staff still needed. Uptime issues are not the only reason why customers contact support.
    What is your definition of "high pricing" by the way?
    Choose three stream hosts and you can find three different prices one will be higher and all quote the same uptime. My definition is the higher of the three.

  5. #5

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    you can run a streaming service with no staff, automated deployment from website signups (WHMCS or similar integrated with Centova for example), pay for a server and leave it running... in theory go out to a day job and leave your nice little streaming business caring for itself whilst you are away...pull in a few punters, loose a few, advertise high uptime and bobs your uncle. Or, you can employ admin and techs 24 7, monitor and care for your clients and really deliver high uptime because your livlihood depends on it... truth of the pudding is always in the eating I guess... also knowledge of the staff is so crucial... before i worked here I was in radio for 17 years and have been in the broadcasters side of internet streaming since it kicked off.... boy have i had issues with "tickets" taking 48 hours to get a reply etc. One thing that can let some stream hosts down is their lack of knowledge... say there is an issue, many cant deal with the teccy stuff so refer it to the likes of Centova who may take 2 days to reply... hence client waiting... the higher priced ones probably have experienced tech staff who can deal with things like this in house but price is not always the only thing to consider.. more expensive isnt always the best... speak to people and ask questions!
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  6. #6
    djsoft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHONWAYNE View Post
    Choose three stream hosts and you can find three different prices one will be higher and all quote the same uptime. My definition is the higher of the three.
    Uptime is not the only thing you should compare stream hosts by.
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  7. #7
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    OK, so lets look at what really needs to be looked at:

    The Datacenters Network- Physical.... More pairing can be bad pairing. If you want your streams to drop on your clients, pair with bad but cheap bandwidth from your options at the Datacenter.

    Network mixers and cutting corners- Their are some host that choose to not use as many mixers, and even go as far as closing Fsoc for protection. Check out how meta fairs with these.

    Local homebrewed protection- Some streaming host find it easier to cook something up locally for protection against crawlers, that will come and REEK HAVOK against your DNAS. Try running a stream when your DNAS is being DDOSed

    The little things- Port 80 streaming. With Centova, your host can screw you like no other if he doesnt know what hes doing when it comes to PORT 80. Not just with the interface, but with porting, BIG TIME.

    Then you have all the factors of bandwidth.

    BURST.... JITTER..... Not knowing how to mod centova ICES when you want to transcode. CMD for dealing with on demand, ect. list goes on and on.

    AND the overselling of bandwidth. Thats a whole different ballgame. Not even gone into that. The general theme of streaming is the more successful you get, the more you are punished. Unless you have found a successful marketing niche/ loyal donating listeners consistently.

    But yes, staff is important, not for when everything is going right, but when everything is going VERY wrong.... like....

    1) Someone that creates a new stream player for Ios/Droid that doesnt configure it right for Icecast, and then ends up attempting to reconnect to the port (but not mountpoint) 1000 times a minute, un-intentionally DDOSing the server.

    2) Reverse that roll. Someone tries a "new" "experimental" streaming interface, that doesn't want to connect to the listening port, but tries 2000 times a minute. Or just a new streamer, that keeps )@#*()( up his listening connection, as he doesnt know the difference between the admin password and streaming password, and successfully hoses all the streams on the same box.

    Seen both of these instances.
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  8. #8

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    I'm not sure why some of them charge so much. My host charges $7.50 a month for 125 slots at 128kbps with centova. The unlimited users servers always seemed a bit fishy to me as well. Good luck with the search

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlamminTunes View Post
    I'm not sure why some of them charge so much. My host charges $7.50 a month for 125 slots at 128kbps with centova. The unlimited users servers always seemed a bit fishy to me as well. Good luck with the search
    A couple things come to mind. A provider charging 7.50USD for 125 slots @ 128k makes me ask the following:

    1 - Are they using un-metered bandwidth?
    2 - Is the line "shared", or is it dedicated?
    3 - Do they have a 100mbit line (or less), or do they have a 1gig line (or higher)?

    Un-metered bandwidth, if dedicated, can be very pricey. If shared it can be inexpensive depending on some things. The datacenter and it's network is also a factor. If your server is at a low rated datacenter, then you can get a dedicated server for a ridiculously low price, but the trade off is that reliability of the network may not be so good.

    If the line is shared, then it is possible that their cost for the dedicated server is reduced, and thus allows them to offer a discounted price. However shared isn't all a bed and roses as you are also at the mercy of other customers on the same line - something the your SHOUTcast provider will not have control over. I've seen and used many SHOUTcast providers using shared lines, and it's nothing but buffer and skipping during peak hours.

    In terms of the line itself, keep in mind if they are on a 100mbit line, they can get maybe 750 - 800 concurrent listeners @ 128k. Higher lines (i.e. 1gig, or higher) will of course allow for a higher limit, at extra cost to the provider. So it is possible the lower pricing is a result of them drastically overselling their servers. In essence they are betting you and all their customers never hit the limit they are paying for. I'd almost guarantee you that if 50%-70% of their customers were maxing out the servers, they'd be forced to raise their pricing considerably.

    I would bet that if they had a dedicated 1gig line or higher, with un-metered bandwidth, they are most likely losing money.

    Always keep in mind - there is no such thing as "unlimited". What they don't show you upfront, is probably buried in their terms of service (which very few people take the time to read). That is where you will find what their limits really are, especially when you get to their fair usage terms.

    So... why some providers charge high prices is simple. You get what you pay for. A very good reputable datacenter with premium bandwidth and network coupled with a reputable SHOUTcast provider with solid knowledge, and support staff 24/7 with the ability to troubleshoot issues as they appear , etc will cost you more than a provider that is a one-person company, at a cheap datacenter with, at best, an average network.

    If your low end provider has never failed you, fabulous. You got lucky. But, if it ever does, consider what you pay per month. You really can't complain. Instead you'll have to grin and bear it.

    Surf around to different datacenters and see pricing for dedicated servers (and I'm not talking about those with an atom in it. You need some beef in the server), then search for reviews for those datacenters (webhostingtalk is a great place to read up on what is good and what is not).

    I prefer to have better reliability and stability. If it costs a bit extra, I don't mind simply because I like to sleep at night.

  10. #10
    If you are serious about this you really need to get your own dedicated machines. Relying on another company (most cheap ones will make you pull your hair out) and the hosting companies that offer quality hosting are just as much if not more than renting your own dedicated machine.

    Now the drawbacks of having your machine is that you need the knowledge or deal with the growing pains of learning. But you have full control over your entire company.
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