Twilio Video at SIGNAL: Pricing to Support Video in Every Application

Today at SIGNAL, we made the beta of Twilio Video available to all attendees, and announced a fundamentally different pricing model for Video. It is designed to put video in every single app. Twilio Video costs two orders of magnitude less than the per-user and per-minute pricing models prevalent in the industry.

Since we announced video a few weeks ago, we’ve had over a thousand developers request early access to the beta. We’ve seen all sorts of use cases, from healthcare to education to real estate to finance and more. The breadth of use cases has been really interesting, and is exactly what we expected – the demand for embedding video into applications is massive. It’s not limited to particular niches or verticals – everyone and their dog wants video.

That’s what we had in mind when we set about pricing video. We built the infrastructure to be massively scalable, and we wanted the pricing to be low enough to fulfil on that promise of scalable, and enable video to be a feature everywhere. Every. Single. App.

Some other players in this market have already put out pricing models which we don’t feel work.

Some pricing models approach from carrier-owned providers approach it as if it is carrier-style telecom. They charge cents per minute. It might make the pricing model simple, but even at the slightest glimpse of scale, it’s way too expensive.

Others approach it as SaaS, with packages based on number of users per month. The “Enterprise” package is for those with 1,250 users. Nothing about 1,250 screams enterprise to us. The problem here is you have to make a number of assumptions in that sort of pricing model. How often do the users sign in, how much do they interact with the API, etc. Typically the SaaS providers deals with that uncertainty by loading it with caveats. “Fair usage restrictions apply”. Either you break their estimate and you get charged extra, or you don’t use as much as they budgeted for, and they of course pocket the difference.

The common theme here is that these people are approaching communications as if it’s a niche. But if you believe as we do that software communications is the future, the model should be different. We built Twilio Video to scale globally and be resilient at every level. And we priced it in a dramatically different way, pricing it more like infrastructure as a service than software as a service.

Twilio Video is priced based on the infrastructure you need to use to run video in your applications. There are three core variables (which also match our costs of running the service):

  • Endpoints connected: Specifically the peak number of endpoints connected, per hour. Think of this as registration – if your endpoint is registered and able to receive a call, it is a connected endpoint.
  • Conversation Participants: Every participant of a conversation is counted, so a conversation with four participants counts as four, as does two conversations each with two participants. The duration of the call does not matter.
  • Server-side interactions:  For any event notification webhooks that you’ve configured to notify your server of a change to a conversation and any REST API calls you use to manipulate conversations. ​ Note that you can initiate and accept calls from within the SDK, which does not require API calls.

Each one of these things is priced at $0.0001. One hundredth of a penny. In addition there is a low per GB charge for network traversal if you use it, as already advertised. This is drastically different pricing – this is infrastructure pricing.

We’ve modelled all sorts of different use cases on this pricing model, and Twilio Video is considerably lower than other options. Somewhere from 1/10th to 1/100th of the cost of any other service.

Here are a few examples:

Let’s say you wanted to do 1hr per day of HD video:

  • The service offered by carrier-owned vendors would cost you $7.20 per month
  • Services offered from SaaS-style vendors would cost you $1.60 per month
  • Twilio would cost you twelve cents. Twelve. $0.12 per month

If you are running a call center doing six hours a day:

  • Carrier model: $28.80 per month
  • SaaS model: $1.60 per month
  • Twilio: $0.21 per month

If you’re doing 24x7x30 HD video:

  • Carrier model: $172.80
  • SaaS model: $26.72
  • Twilio $2.73

No matter what your use case is, no matter what your approach is, Twilio’s pricing approach makes it possible to integrate video everywhere.

This is still Day One in the migration of all communications from their legacy in hardware to the future embedded in software. The future experiences of communications have not even been built yet, but Twilio Video provides the foundation for building them at scale, everywhere.

  • hambo

    This sounds fantastic! Any plans for bandwidth management (MCU or SFU) for better multi-user video?

    • Ari Sigal

      Not yet, but stay tuned :)

  • Tchuinkwa Charles

    I plan to use Twilio video for a social forum, can I run advertisement video using google DFP by google during a live chat and when a recorded stored video is played? My forum will be very much like http://www.battlecam.com. Please let me know.

    • Ari Sigal

      Sorry for the long delay, happy to chat more about your needs and use case. My email is ari[at]twilio[dot]com.

  • The network traversal pricing is the main concern I have. About what percentage of video call connections end up requiring it by region?

    • Ari Sigal

      Apologies for the long delay and great question. Hate to give a vague answer, but it really depends on your use case, your users, and what type of network they are typically on. In aggregate across our customers, we typically see between 10-30% require media relay. However, there are b2b use cases where all users are behind a symmetric NAT and the percentage of calls requiring relay can be even higher. On the other hand, there are c2c use cases where almost no calls require media relay. I’m happy to chat further about your use case and work with you to figure this out. My email is ari[at]twilio[dot]com.

  • Akkhan

    I wants to launch teaching online app video along with my friends 24x7x30. How much its cost for using 50 to 100 teacher same time and 1 to 10 student join class via twilio.

    • Ari Sigal

      Hey! I’m happy to help you with figure out pricing. Feel free to email at ari[at]twilio[dot]com.

  • mbw

    Twilio has raised the prices greatly from what was stated in this post. Check their pricing page before you spend too much time building like I did!