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Companies of all sizes are using webcasting to reach new customers with sales campaigns, hold conferences with far-flung employees, conduct training programs, and even recruit new talent. But to be successful, a webcast must be professionally produced — with crystal-clear audio, smooth video and interactive features, such as chats, social networking or downloadable content. The cost of streaming a video ranges widely, depending on the service, the content and the quality of the production.

Finding a provider

Livestream.com and Ustream.tv are two of the biggest online streaming platform providers, but you may choose smaller providers with their own platforms, such as Chisel Multimedia in Smyrna, Georgia. Livestream.com offers monthly plans for customers who frequently stream videos; they range from $42 to $800 a month with varying features. Ustream.tv offers monthly plans ranging from $99 to $999 a month, as well as a 30-day free trial. Smaller providers offer one-off pricing for single events, which often cost $100-$200.

Choosing features

Depending on the plan and the provider, companies can choose from a wide variety of features that enhance the streaming experience for the user. The basic monthly plan should be free of ads, and should include live chat and an event archive. Advanced plans should add increasing numbers of viewer hours, channel customization, integration with Facebook and other social media sites, and analytics to gauge the success of the livestream.

Bandwidth

The bandwidth to support a livestream can be a hidden cost. Depending on the provider, you generally receive a base allotment of bandwidth, then pay for overages, from 30 cents to $2 per GB of bandwidth.

Video production

The filming of the event is separate from the service of streaming it over the Internet, and can significantly impact the overall cost of a webcast. High-quality video production generally costs anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 per day, including broadcast-quality video cameras, videographers and possibly an event producer.

In general, the daily cost depends on the amount of time the videographer spends at the event, the equipment he needs to use and the complexity of the event. For example, DeNoise Studios, a specialist in multimedia and video services in Berkeley, California, charges from $5 to $200 an hour.

Note that some videographers charge an additional fee for audio services, including providing microphones, a mixer, etc.

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