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May 01, 2007

Is Amazon's S3 the cheapest streaming video hosting out there?

[EDIT Feb 26, 2010] There's a new how-to article on this topic. How to Get Started with Cloudfront Streaming is the example page for the article How to Get Started with Cloudfront Streaming[/EDIT]

While researching CDNs for storage and delivery of digital video, I found that at least one major user-generated video website provider is using Amazon's S3 service for delivery of Flash video over HTTP. For http delivery of lots of clips on-demand, S3 is apparently doing the job.  The costs are astonishingly low:
  • $0.15/GB stored per month
  • $0.18/GB delivered (or less)
A look at Dan Rayburn's recent blog post listing streaming CDN vendors shows some of the streaming heavyweights, with broad networks of origin and edge servers optimized for real-time media delivery.  Akamai, for example, pre-caches media content close to the network's edges, making videos load quicker. For a site that's advertising-funded, fast loading pages can lead to more page views, which equals more revenue. 

But, S3 is an option I hadn't thought of for online video.  There's no support for the RTMP or RTSP streaming protocols, but many sites are just fine with HTTP download delivery these days. (Streaming vs. Downloading - What's the Difference?)  While it may not be optimized around realtime delivery, it certainly offers unlimited scalability at rock-bottom prices.  And options like its rich developer API and BitTorrent integration could be an asset to a comprehensive media delivery strategy.  It's certainly an option worth looking at.    

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How useful is Amazon's service for people that don't know a whole heck of a lot about developing programs? I just sent to the AWS page on Amazon and I'm not sure I understand how I can use the service.

Is there any website that actually uses S3 foe video streaming?

I'll be using S3 very soon for streaming videos :)

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