Host With The Most?William Gadea 08.09.2011
There’s no right answer to this question. You have to look at the pros and cons of each option, and see what’s the best video host for you.
Self-hosting: Hosting is something you can do yourself. All but the most basic web-hosting packages give you the means. The most common movie format had been Flash, but it’s not longer as safe a choice as it had been. The burgeoning popularity of Apple’s iPad, iTouch, and iPhone — none of which play Flash at all — has made self-hosting in Flash video a bit more problematic. MP4s encoded in the H264 codec are becoming a popular format, since this allows play on both iOS and most Flash players.
Your website analytics should help you find out how many views your video has, but with self-hosting you will not have the advanced metrics that the commercials hosts can offer, such as how far your viewers got in your video. Also on the minus side, depending on your content management system, uploading your video might be slightly more complicated than it is with the intuitive tools nearly all the hosts offer.
Advantages: no additional costs apart from hosting, unbranded.
Disadvantages: Only basic metrics, uploading slightly more complicated.
YouTube: YouTube is a choice to consider because that’s where the viewers are. They have long passed the billion views per day mark. The views your video gains while it is embedded in your site count towards the total number of YouTube views. Since the videos that gain the most views will appear higher on searches, it might make sense to use YouTube embeds if you hope to appeal to the huge YouTube audience.
Unfortunately, YouTube does not offer ‘white-label’ hosting services; that is, the YouTube watermark will appear on the bottom right of your embedded video. Given YouTube’s association with all sorts of less-than-classy content, this is a liability.
Advantages: Even massive bandwidth use is free; views on your site are added to your YouTube total.
Disadvantages: Brand watermark and its associations.
Vimeo Plus: Although it is known as a slightly hipper YouTube competitor — that is, a provider of free video hosting with ads — Vimeo also offers a $59.95/year Vimeo Plus package that might meet the needs of some individuals. The Plus package gives you better encoding, no ads, unlimited HD uploading, and the ability to do some customization on the player, including removing the Vimeo logo from it. It doesn’t give you a variety of “skins” for your player, as some commercial hosts do. However, Vimeo Plus is not available for commercial use. The exception to that is independent video producers and some other members of the video-making creative community.
Advantages: Low cost, good compatibility with universal embed code, unlimited bandwidth on plays.
Disadvantages: No choice on movie ‘skins’; no commercial use allowed, with some exceptions for the creative community.
Vimeo Pro: Within the last week, Vimeo has unveiled their new commercial hosting service. At $199/year, they are undercutting the competition on price fairly dramatically. Also, they’ve added some additional features not included in Vimeo Plus: a brandable Player, and hosted portfolio sites, and they’re even supporting third party players for your videos, so you’re not stuck with the Vimeo player look if you don’t want to be.
So is Vimeo Pro the winner? Well, other commercial hosts offer more advanced metrics, and some other bells and whistles. Also, Vimeo Pro offers no support other than an online forum. But Vimeo Pro is now undoubtedly the value leader.
Advantages: Low price for a commercial host, good compatibility, brandable.
Disadvantages: Metrics not as advanced as other commercial hosts, only website forum support.
Other commercial hosting: There are a number of companies (such as Brightcove, Wistia, and Viddler) that provide video hosting for businesses. The advantages of this option are a number of add-ons that provide considerable value. For example, Wistia has tools that allow clickable onscreen links. Also, the metrics from these providers are usually quite sophisticated. Not only can you see the number of videos, but sometimes they will show how far the viewers got in the video, where they stopped and went back, and they will sometimes provide this information on individual basis.
Advantages: Advanced metrics, good compatibility, valuable add-ons.
Disadvantages: Higher cost (starts at around $800 per year.)
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