When YouTube hit the internet in 2005, no one really knew how much this video hosting platform would change everything. Before that, we mainly watched video on television or DVDs. What’s a DVD you ask? We’re not that far from that being a legitimate question.
We’re now in an era where any video you produce needs to live online if you want people to see it, share it, comment on it, and more. And although YouTube is still a good choice there are several other options that might fit your specific needs and goals. Let’s go over a few.
The Best Video Hosting Services
As we mentioned, YouTube is the online video king. They’ve done a lot of things well and that’s gotten them a huge audience. The toolset for uploading videos on YouTube is straightforward and easy to understand.
Once your video is uploaded, you can add a description with links, tags, and a title. You can choose from 3 thumbnail images by default. If you want to use a custom thumbnail, you’ll need to first have your YouTube account verified first and keep it in good standing. That means, not getting in trouble for inappropriate uploads and images.
YouTube has its advantages being such a well-known platform. It integrates well into most any social media platform, and people know how to use it. However, there is also a lot of video content, and we mean a lot, on YouTube. Don’t expect people to just find your content there. You’ll need to have a built-in audience or promote yourself well to maximize views.
Once your video is live, you’ll be able to see a view count that is public, and you’ll be able to receive comments (or turn them off). Being a free service, this is about the extent of control you get on analytics and interaction. You also don’t get dedicated customer support with YouTube. They have an extensive knowledge base and help center, but don’t expect to talk to a human about an uploading issue.
Vimeo is another big player in online video that launched about the same time as YouTube. Unfortunately, they didn’t experience the same viral growth as YouTube did at that time.
Instead, Vimeo focused on creating an enhanced experience for both users and contributors. Although everyone supports HD content now, Vimeo was the first, making them popular with filmmakers and digital designers who wanted to show their work in the best light.
Vimeo was also one of the first to offer a paid membership plan that gave producers more control and more features.
With a free membership, you can upload your HD videos just like with YouTube. They also feature a simple uploader with options for title, description, and tags. You can choose a thumbnail from your video or upload a custom thumbnail image. However, with a free account, you are limited to uploading 500Mb per week (25Gb per year). You get basic statistics like view count and likes as well as Vimeo’s basic customer support. As they put it, “email responses within 3 business days.”
Where Vimeo differs from YouTube is in its paid plans. There are four options here, Plus, Pro, Business, and Premium. The price points range from about $10 – $75 per month (billed annually).
Vimeo Plus ups your video upload limits to 10 times as much, 5GB per week (250 GB per year). You also get priority video conversion, which means you get to jump in the front of the line and get your videos online faster. You get slightly more advanced privacy controls, and enhanced support, meaning email responses within 4 hours on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends.
But one of the best features is the advanced stats that let you know exactly where your videos are being embedded, which of your videos are the most popular, and detailed information on different time periods.
For serious video creators, the Pro option puts Vimeo Plus on steroids. Additional features include 20GB per week limits (1TB per year), support email responses within an hour or 24 hours on weekends, and additional privacy and customization controls.
If you need even more muscle than these two paid accounts, you could also explore the Business and Premium accounts which have no weekly limits and include unlimited live streaming, respective.
Vimeo has worked hard to cater to the higher end video professional and they have built a community around great work from contributors.
Wistia is a little younger than Vimeo and YouTube, although not much. And they approach their video service from a different angle.
First off, they don’t have a public directory of videos like YouTube and Vimeo. They aren’t a consumption portal. Wistia is a video hosting service that helps you share your videos on your own site or others and allows you to control it more specifically for marketing purposes.
Like Vimeo, Wistia has a stripped-down free service that allows for you to house 25 videos. Similar to Vimeo, you can customize colors on the player, but it is branded with a “powered by Wistia” tag. You also get their “basic” analytics.
One of the unique features of Wistia’s analytics system is its heatmap feature. Heatmaps let you know at what point in the video people stop watching and which parts they watch over again. This gives you a better idea of how your video is perceived and if you need to think about making changes to it for better retention. The heatmap feature is part of the basic analytics in the free account.
If you have more serious needs, Wistia offers a few tiers of paid services, Pro and Enterprise. Let’s talk about Pro, as Enterprise is like Pro with unlimited videos.
The Pro paid account from Wistia runs $99 a month and gets you 10 free videos with as many extra ones as you need for $0.25. It also gets you the unbranded video player so you can focus more on your own branding.
You also get advanced analytics, lead generation, and marketing integrations. If you are trying to use your videos to really build an audience or sell a product, these are worth a look.
The lead generation tools include calls to action that can pop up during your video and email collectors. These will require someone to put in an email address before watching your video.
All in all, Wistia is a powerful marketing tool that can be quite useful if you are using video to generate leads or sales.
SproutVideo may be the youngest company in the batch, but they still have a long track record and some great features. SproutVideo doesn’t offer a free account, although they do have a 30-day free trial.
Instead, they offer several paid tiers based on bandwidth. Each tier, Sprout, Sapling, Tree, Grove, and Forest offers more and more storage space and playback bandwidth.
Sprout starts at $25 a month allowing for 500GB of storage and 500GB of bandwidth, with overages of $0.25 per GB. On the high end, Forest has the same storage and bandwidth, but overage costs are $0.08 per GB.
This way, you can set up a plan not only by how many videos you have, but also by how long they are and how popular they are. The SproutVideo pricing page offers up more details to help you better understand which account will suit you.
SproutVideo also offers a ton of features on all paid accounts, including engagement date, basic video privacy tools, ultraHD playback, and custom players and embeds.
Some of the more interesting features of SproutVideo are the finely tuned analytics like IP addresses, individual user tags, enhanced security controls, and their new feature “video sites” which allows you to quickly create custom sites for your video content. Like Wistia, SproutVideo also features marketing call to actions and email collectors.
SproutVideo is another product built specifically for the purpose of video marketing and it’s definitely worth a look if you are looking to build leads or use videos to sell products.
All of these online video hosting platforms have their pluses and you can definitely be successful with any of them. It’s just a matter of figuring out which features are best suited for your videos and how much money you have available in your budget. What’s important is that you get your videos online where they can be shared and enjoyed!