Amazon Launches Live Flash Media Streaming

We’ve all been asked over the last few years to stream live events on our campus – one of the challenges has been what service should you use to livestream your events.

There are free services, such as uStream and Justin.tv, but the quality they offer can be erratic and, if you are using one of the free tiers of service, your content will have pre-roll and/or pop-up ads. This is annoying.

In a perfect world, we’d all have our own Flash media streaming setups we could push a button and start using. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time to manage all that stuff.

Enter Amazon, naturally.

They’ve announced today a new service and framework to get up and running doing live Flash media streaming. They’ve combined several of their services, including DNS, servers on demand and their content delivery network to offer an interesting on-demand Flash streaming rig.

The actual setup looks like this, but don’t be scared by all the pieces.

With their CloudFormation service, much of the work of setup only needs to be done once. Instances can be created from that template as needed.

Let’s look at costs for this type of setup. According to Amazon, they say this about costs:

In addition to the $5.00 monthly subscription fee for Flash Media Server on Amazon EC2, you pay for only for the AWS resources you consume.

Let’s examine those costs for a moment. After the $5 monthly charge, you’ll pay $0.44 USD for a server in Virginia that can support 100 simultaneous connections. Prices go up from there. Streaming to 1,000 users would run you $1.30 USD per hour. Prices are higher in Asia and Japan.

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The big unknown here is bandwidth usage. I’m having a hard time trying to estimate the amount of bandwidth needed for an event, such as graduation. 20GB? 50GB? 100GB? If you have a number you’ve seen in the past, let me know so I can correct the numbers.

Let’s use 100 as our basis here – that bandwidth would cost you $15.00 USD.

So let’s say you are streaming two hours of Commencement. That would be:

  • Flash: $5
  • 1000 streams at $1.30 per hour: $2.50
  • 100GB of Bandwidth: $15.00

Under $25 for a platform you have full control over? That’s not too shabby.

Let’s compare that to some other services out there:

uStream offers ad-free streams, and you can get 100 hours for $99 per month. 4,000 ad-free hours per month will run you $500 a month. LiveStream.com offers 3,000 ad-free hours and HD quality for $350 per month.

Looks like an interesting offering from Amazon. As we start to plan our graduation streaming, it will definitely be in the mix. If you’d like to read a tutorial from Amazon on live Flash streaming, you can check it out here.