On the surface, Kaltura and Panopto appear to be similar solutions for capturing, managing, and sharing your organization’s video. However, there are a number of fundamental differences in the licensing, functionality, and target audiences of these video platforms. Specifically, Panopto has built an integrated video platform with a simple licensing model based on the needs of businesses and academic institutions, while Kaltura’s a la carte product functionality and complex licensing cater primarily to the needs of media companies.
Click on the links below to learn more about these differences, and why Panopto may be a better fit for your business or university.
“Simplicity” and “predictability” are two words we frequently hear from our clients when they describe what they look for in video platform pricing. Since our founding in 2007, we’ve worked with our customers to build a licensing model that not only delivers great value at a great price, but also simplifies your internal budget and forecasting process.
With Panopto, you pay a single license fee based on the number of people using the video platform. This means that every Panopto user gets access to all of the features in our solution – including video recording, live webcasting, video management, search, sharing, editing, and more. There’s no need to estimate the number of people who will be “content creators” vs. “content viewers.” There are no additional charges for features that should come standard in an enterprise video platform, such as search, broadcasting, LMS integration and mobile video streaming. And if you intend to host your video platform in the cloud, there’s no need to worry about the storage footprint of your videos. With Panopto, ample cloud storage is included as part of the license fee.
By contrast, Kaltura provides an a la carte pricing model for much of the functionality in its video platform. Our clients in the enterprise and higher education tell us that this model is deceptively attractive when conversations begin, but as necessary features and services are added as “extras” to the pricing proposal, the actual cost of Kaltura’s solution is considerably higher.
For example, at the low end of Kaltura’s offerings is Kaltura CE, which the company describes as a “free and open-source self-hosted version of the Kaltura video platform.” However, unlike other for-profit businesses that offer an open source version of their software, Kaltura has removed functionality that many would consider core to a video platform (such as 508-compliant closed caption support), and replaced it with messages urging customers to upgrade to a paid version of the product.
This approach of selectively open sourcing components of their platform prompted Tim Owens, a blogger and education technologist, to write in 2013:
“The entire piece of software is one big upsell to a company that I’m starting to think has a vested interest in making sure their open source offering is buggy, unreliable, and broken.”
In summarizing Kaltura CE, Owens writes:
“Any university evaluating their product should consider the open-source version to be extremely limited and purposefully hindered to provoke people towards Kaltura’s hosted and paid solutions.”
Even if you pay for Kaltura’s SaaS or On-Prem offerings, you may be surprised at the list of features that need to be licensed separately from the company’s core video management product. For example, the ability to record videos, the video portal (often referred to as a “Corporate YouTube” or “Campus YouTube”), the ability to search for video content, and live webcasting are all add-on features. And if you intend to integrate Kaltura’s video platform with your LMS or content management system, there are separate charges for those as well.
Below are a few features that we believe should come standard in an end-to-end video platform, and for which Kaltura charges separate fees:
|Video capture software||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|YouTube-like video portal||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Video search||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Streaming to mobile devices||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Live webcasting||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|LMS and CMS integration||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Global customer support||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|On-premises installation||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Maintenance and upgrades||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
|Ample cloud storage and streaming||Included in per user license||Licensed separately|
Our mission at Panopto is to democratize knowledge sharing with video. We believe that any employee, instructor, or student in your organization should be able to easily record and share their ideas and expertise using video. So we work with universities and businesses to understand their biggest pain points in working with video, and based on their feedback, we’ve built an integrated, easy-to-use video platform from the ground-up.
Kaltura has taken a different approach. Rather than building an end-to-end platform, the company integrates and ships 3rd-party components to provide key platform capabilities. The result is that Panopto is able to provide a more integrated user experience, and a more complete feature set based on the needs of our customers.
As your organization builds its media library, and the number of videos grows from tens to hundreds to thousands, the ability to search across your library and inside the content of those videos becomes critical.
Since the first release of our product in 2008, Panopto has made video search a core part of our platform. In fact, Forrester Research recently recognized Panopto for offering “the best support for video search” in the industry. There are three things that set Panopto’s video search apart from Kaltura.
First, Panopto indexes the actual content inside your videos, enabling your users to search across your library and inside individual videos by:
Search results return the precise moment in your videos where the search term appears. And with one click, your users can jump right to that point in the video. We’ve made it as easy to search inside videos as it is to Google the web.
Second, Panopto enables you to search across your video library and inside videos from any device. Whether you’re accessing Panopto through a web browser on a PC or Mac, or you’re using Panopto’s native apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, you get the same great search capabilities.
Finally, Panopto doesn’t require any additional effort to make all of your videos searchable. When you record or live broadcast video using Panopto’s software, your videos are automatically uploaded to your video library and indexed for search. Similarly, every pre-recorded video that you upload into Panopto is automatically indexed.
By comparison, Kaltura’s core product only includes built-in support for searching traditional video metadata like titles and tags. Some additional search capabilities, including optical character recognition, can be purchased as add-ons. Others, however, including automatic speech recognition, are not currently supported.
Capturing video is a core feature in Panopto, and has been from day one. With Panopto, your employees, faculty, and students can record with virtually any device (USB webcams, professional video cameras, mobile devices, document cameras, and more). They can capture HD, full-motion video and screen recordings at high frame rates. They can even record from multiple video cameras and multiple computer monitors simultaneously, and they can do all this regardless of whether they have an internet connection.
In addition to simplifying the capture of individual videos, Panopto also makes it easy to record video at scale. Our video platform includes remote recording functionality, which allows your team to schedule, control, and monitor recordings from any web browser without having to set foot in the conference room, classroom, or lecture hall. This feature is critical to education technology teams in universities and corporate event teams who often have to coordinate and manage multiple simultaneous recordings.
Panopto also includes a unique capability called “distributed recording.” This dramatically simplifies the logistical setup of any conference room or lecture hall in which video presentations are recorded. While traditional AV setup in these rooms often involves expensive video converters and switching hardware along with hundreds of feet of cable, Panopto enables you to capture and automatically synchronize HD video presentations with nothing more than two laptops and any video camera.
Kaltura’s video recording capabilities, by contrast, are more limited, and have only recently been added to the company’s platform in the form of third-party add-ons. Currently, these add-ons provide no support for remote recording, distributed recording, and multi-monitor screen capture.
In addition, Kaltura’s Java- and Flash-based recording tools are web-based. This means that, to access and use them requires an internet connection. It also means that your ability to reliably capture video will be compromised. If you lose internet connectivity during a recording, or if your web browser crashes, the content of your video will be lost.
Finally, it’s important to note that Kaltura’s video recording and screen capture tools, including their recently-released CaptureSpace product, aren’t actually built by Kaltura. The company’s web-based video recording capability is provided through a freely-available open source product called Red5, screen recording functionality is provided through a white-labeled version of Screencast-O-Matic, and CaptureSpace is a white-labeled version of Collaaj. There are three reasons why this is important:
Live streaming of video has traditionally been a capability that could only be accomplished with the help of AV experts and events teams. At Panopto, we’ve made it possible for anyone, from any Windows PC, to live broadcast HD video and the contents of their screen to hundreds of people within their department, thousands across their organization, or tens of thousands across the internet. Every webcast is automatically recorded, uploaded to your organization’s Panopto server, and made available for on-demand viewing on any device.
Kaltura also offers live webcasting, but it’s important to understand the differences in how it’s implemented. Most important is the fact that Kaltura’s live webcasting capability isn’t built by Kaltura. It’s provided through partnerships with Wowza and InterCall. In addition to creating product licensing complexity, this creates additional work for product setup and maintenance, and it has implications on the end user experience.
Because the live streaming capabilities of Wowza and InterCall are provided through separate products, they require your AV or IT team to learn the product, set it up separately from Kaltura, and then integrate the two products. Then, each time Wowza, InterCall or Kaltura upgrade their software, there’s the potential for additional work to reconfigure this integration.
In addition, when a core video feature like live streaming is outsourced to another organization, it limits Kaltura’s ability to provide you with a high-quality, predictable experience for your users. For example, if you experience performance issues during a live webcast, which vendor will provide support?
A transcoder is a fundamental part of every video platform. It converts and formats your video and audio files into standardized formats that can be played back on any laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is critical given the wide range of devices that people within your organization will use to watch your videos. Without a well-built transcoder, there’s no guarantee that your all-hands meeting will play back properly on an employee’s iPhone, or that your flipped classroom video will playback on a student’s Android tablet.
At Panopto, we’ve built our video transcoder from the ground-up. Over the last seven years, we’ve optimized every element of our transcoder to produce high-quality video, to stream video efficiently across your network, and to ensure compatibility with any device.
Kaltura has taken a different approach. Like its video recording capability, screen recording tool, and live webcasting capability, Kaltura has integrated a 3rd-party component called FFmpeg to provide video transcoding functionality.
Looking across Kaltura’s platform, you can see that several of the most essential components of video capture and management have not actually been built by Kaltura. Rather, much like a systems integrator, Kaltura has white-labeled the components and bolted them onto their core video management solution.
|Video recording||Built in-house||Outsourced (Red5)|
|Screen recording||Built in-house||Outsourced (Screencast-o-Matic)|
|Lecture capture||Built in-house||Outsourced (Collaaj)|
|Live streaming||Built in-house||Outsourced (Wowza)|
|Webcasting||Built in-house||Outsourced (InterCall)|
|Video transcoding||Built in-house||Outsourced (FFmpeg)|
A company’s target market drives its business strategy and the investments it makes in its product. Panopto has two target markets – enterprises and academic institutions. We’ve built our video platform specifically so that these organizations can easily communicate and share knowledge internally using video.
Kaltura also sells to businesses and universities. However, it’s important to note that the company’s primary source of revenue is neither of these markets. It’s media companies such as Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, and Paramount who deliver video over the internet to consumers.
The needs of these markets are quite different, and their differences drive our companies to prioritize product innovation in different ways.
For example, Kaltura invests heavily in the Over The Top (OTT) television market. OTT enables media companies to deliver and monetize video to internet-connected televisions. The company’s investments in OTT technology, including their heavy investments in video advertising, are relevant only to clients like HBO who need to track consumer subscribers and payment preferences.
Kaltura’s focus on OTT was exemplified in May 2014 when the company announced the acquisition of a media software startup called Tvinci. Tvinci enables media companies to deliver personalized TV offerings to consumers. The software provides modules for consumer profiling, billing history, parental protection of content and more.
Despite these investments, Kaltura describes much of its video platform functionality as being reusable across media companies, enterprises, and universities. Indeed, there are modules that are applicable to all markets, but even here, Kaltura’s preference for media companies is evident.
Take, for example, the video transcoding functionality that Kaltura ships with its platform. Kaltura has implemented this feature in a way that requires your team to understand the bitrates, frame rates, resolution, and codecs of all your videos. This functionality is critical for media companies who have expertise in the complexities of video encoding, and who need to deliver consumer video with quality that is on par with Netflix and Blu-ray. For enterprises and universities, however, the functionality is superfluous. A well-architected transcoder should automatically generate the right media formats to stream your videos to any device with high quality. This is the approach Panopto has taken – there’s no need to learn about video codecs and no need to spend time understanding or creating custom transcoding profiles. Your team can be confident that any video recorded and any video uploaded into Panopto will play back on any device efficiently and with high quality.
Panopto and Kaltura both provide solutions for video capture and management. However, the approach that we’ve taken to developing our solutions, our licensing models, and our engagements with customers highlight fundamental differences between our companies.
Kaltura specializes in the configuration of complex video systems that are comprised of disparate parts. This complexity is reflected in their licensing model and in their engagements with customers that often require heavy investments in professional services. Panopto specializes in building a turnkey video platform that is integrated end-to-end, easy to configure, and licensed in a simple, predictable way.
Kaltura’s business model is built on relationships with media companies who deliver and monetize consumer-facing entertainment. This is reflected in their corporate acquisitions and in their engineering focus on technologies like OTT. Panopto’s business model is built on relationships with corporations and universities whose goal is to share knowledge among their employees and students.
Since 2007, we’ve built our business on serving the video needs of academic institutions and enterprises. Our 99% customer satisfaction speaks to the investments we’ve made in a unified video platform that is built in-house, a simple licensing model, and the industry-leading service that we provide to every one of our customers.
If you have any questions about our video platform or about the differences between Panopto and Kaltura, give us a call at +1 (855) PANOPTO or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.