What is a Video API?

Video APIs provide access to the server infrastructure required to process and deliver video content and video streams. These APIs allow applications to integrate video without the hassle of uploading, encoding, hosting, and delivering content.

There are three main types of video APIs: streaming APIs, analytics APIs, and client-side video player APIs.

Video Streaming APIs

Video streaming APIs enable applications to stream video content, whether pre-recorded or live, from any content management system (CMS), web application, or mobile application. A video streaming API typically provides three core services:

  • Encoding: Compressing videos and converting them to formats suitable for delivery over the Internet.
  • Storage: Providing the ability to store and manage video content at scale.
  • Streaming: Delivering video to users, typically using a content delivery network (CDN) to reduce latency and improve user experience.

Video Analytics APIs

Video analytics APIs can identify objects, events, and audio in videos, making it possible to:

Video Player APIs

This type of video API operates on the client-side. If you need to play a video on a browser or within a software application, these APIs can present video content to users.

A video player API lets you control the user’s viewing experience, including the size and appearance of the video window, auto playback, and user experience options like starting, stopping, and skipping a video. A video player API can also help ensure that the user experiences the highest level of quality given their device capabilities and bandwidth.

Top APIs For Video Encoding, Processing, and Streaming

Now that we have a foundation of the types of video APIs, let’s briefly review eight of the world’s leading providers.

1. Youtube Live

YouTube is the world’s largest video streaming platform. The YouTube Livestreaming API allows you to create, update, and manage live events on YouTube. You can use the API to schedule an event (called a broadcast) and associate it with a video stream representing the actual broadcast content.

YouTube’s Live Streaming API lets you create and manage real-time events, and also includes components from two other YouTube APIs:

  • Data API: Allows YouTube users to manage their YouTube account
  • Content ID API: Allows users to interact with YouTube’s copyright management system

2. Facebook Live

Facebook offers live streams that can be hosted on personal profiles, pages, and groups, and also provides “Facebook Watch” videos that can be viewed on-demand on Facebook pages.

The Facebook Real-Time Video API allows you to stream video content from encoders, cameras, web and desktop applications supporting RTMP streams directly to Facebook user profiles, pages, and groups.

3. IBM Watson Media Video Streaming

IBM Watson Media provides an enterprise video solution that can help you create, store, manage, broadcast, and evaluate the impact of real-time and recorded video. IBM Video Streaming is a scalable streaming service for live broadcast or video on demand. Key features include:

  • Open URLs or password-protected video
  • Simultaneous live broadcasts across multiple channels, running anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours a day
  • Easy-to-use encoding for webcams, live broadcast applications, or broadcasts based on Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)
  • Built-in multi-CDN
  • Clickable video overlays
  • Simulated live broadcasts

IBM Video Streaming includes the following APIs:

  • Channel API: Controls organizations, accounts, channels, and video content. Lets you build a white-label streaming media platform or create multiple channels using one account.
  • Player API: Manages the capabilities of the IBM Video Streaming player and customizes layout while maintaining a continuous data connection to IBM Video Streaming servers.
  • Analytics API: Provides rich engagement and telemetry data for live video streams and VOD content consumption. Can provide customized data feeds.

4. Cloudinary

  • Vendor: Cloudinary
  • Video API details
  • Pricing: Free plan and paid subscription from $99 per month

Cloudinary is a cloud-based service that provides management solutions for images and videos, including uploading, storage, management, optimization, and delivery. It’s primarily used for delivering videos on websites and web applications.

Cloudinary provides video APIs for all common programming languages that enable:

  • Real-time video transcoding: Dynamically transcodes video into any format and automatically converts it to the most efficient format and codec, with no human intervention.
  • Smart compression: Automatically adjusts video compression level and encoding settings to speed up loading and ensure smooth playback.
  • Dynamic video transformation: Performs AI-based transformations of video content, including cropping and trimming based on video content, adding text, image, and video overlays, and automatically adding subtitles.
  • Video player API: Cloudinary provides a lightweight, HTML5-based video player with API access to video configuration, controls, and the video player element on the page.

5. Dacast

Dacast is an integrated streaming solution that supports both live and video-on-demand platforms. It provides both live streaming and online video hosting. Key features include:

  • Allowing users to embed videos on external websites while allowing publishers control over the content
  • Integrated paywall, password protection, and referrer limits
  • Analytics dashboard
  • Support for streaming through webcams, digital cameras, and RTMP feeds
  • Live streaming with multi-CDN
  • Publishing videos directly to common HTML5 video players with advanced features like pay-per-view
  • Supports live streaming on Facebook

The Dacast Video Content Management API is a RESTful JSON API that can be used from any programming language. It can be used to integrate all the features of the Dacast platform into a variety of cloud video applications, services, and digital media workflows.

6. Wirecast

  • Vendor: Telestream
  • Pricing: License starting from $599

Wirecast by Telestream is an easy-to-use video encoding and composition platform, which can be installed on Windows PCs and Macs. Key features include:

  • Instant playback
  • Integrated video conferencing
  • Real-time video compositing using layers
  • Real-time switching
  • Picture in picture (PIP) synthesis
  • Titles and captions
  • Audio delays

Wirecast’s Video Encoder API is an XMLRPC API that lets you incorporate pre-recorded video content into your broadcast. It supports the encoding of streaming HD and SD sources to multiple servers and platforms.

7. Brightcove

Brightcove is a family of online video solutions that can help you deliver and monetize video content across multiple devices and platforms. Key features include playback, video library management, content management, collection and transcoding, HTML5 video, and social sharing. It provides a fast, TV-like experience, and can dynamically inject server-side ads.

The Brightcove Video Cloud Platform API is available as a JavaScript API, a RESTful API, and native player SDKs. The API provides programmatic access to all aspects of the Video Cloud platform. It can be used to integrate the video system with a CMS or to integrate video into custom applications.

8. Open Broadcaster Studio

  • Vendor: Open Broadcaster Studio
  • Pricing: Free

OBS Studio is an open-source software encoder for live broadcasting. It is easy to use and suitable for those new to live streaming. It can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Key features include:

  • Real-time video/audio capture and mixing
  • Unlimited scenes and custom transitions
  • Intuitive audio mixer
  • Modular “dock” UI

The OBS encoder has an extensible API that includes community-developed plugins and scripts. You can also develop your own customizations and features and contribute them to the community.

Honorable Mentions

Did we leave out a video API that you feel deserves mention? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll consider adding it here!

Summary

In this article, I covered eight leading video solutions that provide full-featured APIs:

  1. Youtube Live API: The API for the world’s biggest online video platform.
  2. Facebook Live API: This Lets you programmatically manage video streams on Facebook pages, profiles, and groups.
  3. IBM Watson Media Video Streaming: An API for IBM Cloud’s managed video streaming service.
  4. Cloudinary: Provides an API that lets you upload video to cloud storage, manage video content, and perform AI-driven optimization and adjustment for video.
  5. Dacast: API for enterprise-grade video streaming services with a paywall, CDN, and other capabilities.
  6. Wirecast: Downloadable video encoding and composition with XMLRPC API and SDKs.
  7. Brightcove: Online video streaming solution with advanced monetization and VOD options.
  8. Open Broadcaster Studio: Free software encoder for video broadcasting offering an extensive API.

I hope this will be of help as you integrate video content into your mobile and web applications.