When it comes to online video, there are many ways to distribute it. The easiest is using a free social platform like YouTube or Facebook. However, these platforms have severe downsides. More demanding users will find these services lacking.
For anyone who needs more control and features, a video hosting platform is the way to go. Video hosts provide a space for your videos to live online, and a means of delivering them to viewers.
In this essay, we’re going to compare video services from a few different providers, including Vzaar, Wistia, and DaCast. Each online video platform (OVP) has it’s own strengths and downsides. This information has been pulled directly from user reviews, company websites, and our experiences on these platforms.
Hopefully, this comparison will help you make more informed choices when it comes to selecting an OVP. Let’s get started.
We’re going to begin with Vzaar, a video hosting service launched in 2007. Originally, Vzaar was created to serve sellers on the online auction site eBay. It’s like an online bazaar for videos, hence the name Vzaar.
Today, they offer their services to businesses and other organizations in need of video hosting. They focus on the education, media, publishing, and e-commerce industries. In 2012, Vzaar opened a sales and support office in the United States. The company is based in England.
The video services offered by Vzaar revolve around hosting. Their primary service allows users to upload and host content on their servers. Beyond that, the service offers a number of great features:
- Bulk uploading: The ability to add up to 10 videos at once.
- API: Use the Vzaar API to integrate their video platform into your custom apps. This allows coding of personalized solutions for web, mobile, and desktop.
- Dropbox uploader: Add files to a dedicated Dropbox folder to simplify uploading on-the-go. You can add files and then leave, and they’ll be on Vzaar when you return.
- Custom video player: The Vzaar video player can be customized with different colors and button options. You can also integrate subtitles in multiple languages into your programs.
- HTML5: The video player is built to automatically detect the video standards supported by the viewer. It will deliver HTML5 video when needed, which retains functionality on mobile devices without flash support.
- Dual encoding: Videos on Vzaar are encoded in two bitrates. This means that users with different internet speeds will automatically receive the file suited to them. This minimizes buffering and hastens loading times.
- Privacy controls: Vzaar’s privacy control features include basic access control and domain restrictions. The service also supports encrypted RTMP streams (RTMPe) and HTTPS embed codes.
Vzaar’s best features
According to multiple reviews, Vzaar’s best features come in the form of monetization, SEO, and video lead generation.
Monetization is provided via a partnership with MPP Global Solutions. This e-commerce firm allows users to create paywalls on their site, prompting viewers to pay before accessing content. This service requires an additional fee to access.
When it comes to SEO, Vzaar supports basic tagging for search engines. It’s simple to create a video sitemap for your content as well.
For lead generation, Vzaar is one of the better platforms available. They support gathering email addresses in the video window. These pop-up windows are simple to create and effective for gathering information from viewers. They also support embedding CTAs (calls to action) at the end of your videos. Users mention these as among the platform highlights.
As far as pricing, Vzaar offers three tiers. The most basic is the “self service” tier. This platform includes 250 GB of bandwidth, 100 GB of storage, and basic features at the cost of $25 per month. You can save $50 by paying annually. Five users can access the account. However, this tier does not include HLS encoding (necessary for reaching certain devices), security, advertising, and many other features.
The next plan, Premium, costs $250 per month (save $500 by paying annually). This plan includes 1000 GB (1 TB) of bandwidth and 250 GB of storage. This plan adds support for:
- 20 users
- HLS encoding
- Advanced security features
- Video scheduling
- API access
- Multi-language subtitles
- Email capture
- Dual encoding
- White label embedding
- Telephone support
The final tier for Vzaar is called Enterprise, and uses custom pricing with the same annual discounts. This tier offers 4 TB or more of bandwidth, 500 GB or more of storage, and a personal account manager. This plan also includes migration assistance, multiple domains, and access for more than 20 users.
Drawbacks: Vzaar live streaming
Despite Vzaar’s great features, the platform does have a number of downsides.
One major drawback of Vzaar is that it does not support live streaming video broadcasts. This is a big oversight in an era when streaming is becoming increasingly popular. Streaming video is easy to add to existing workflows as the technology becomes more standardized and integrated. Many other competitor platforms integrate live streaming services with traditional video hosting.
Reviewers also note that the platform sometimes experiences caching issues. Users sometimes have to reboot to use the platform. Additionally, styling for CTAs at the end of videos has to be manually done using Java. This is a somewhat inelegant solution.
The second platform that we’re going to look at is Wistia. Wistia is a video hosting platform that was founded in 2006 by two college students.
Originally, the platform was aimed at helping filmmakers collaborate online. However, the service has evolved into a hosting service aimed at business and professional users. Wistia is especially focused on integrations with other marketing and education platforms. The company is based in Massachusetts.
Overview for Wistia video hosting
Wistia’s services revolve around video hosting, particularly for marketing purposes. Their tools enable you to annotate video, collect email addresses, and track users. Their analytics platform is also very robust. For users hoping to drive engagement, this platform is powerful. Reviewers noted several key features that include:
- The ability to embed social sharing features into the video player itself
- An intuitive interface with video tutorials
- Good customer support
- A reliable platform
- The ability to replace a video with a new version without having to replace video embed codes
Wistia best features
One of Wistia’s headline features is the “heatmap.” This allows you to see which parts of the video the viewer skipped, watched, and rewatched. Over dozens and hundreds of viewers, these heatmaps provide actionable information on when users begin to get bored and drop off.
Another feature cited by multiple reviewers is integration with HubSpot. This setup can automatically trigger email workflow funnels if certain customers watch more than a certain percentage of a video. For gauging engagement and implementing sales funnels, Wistia is quite useful.
SEO is also a highlight for Wistia. Users appreciate the backlinking that is enabled when your Wistia videos are embedded on other people’s websites.
Pricing for the Wistia platform is divided into three tiers. The service begins with a free tier. This includes standard features, space for up to three videos, and 200 GB of monthly bandwidth. However, Wistia branding on the video player does show up in this tier.
The second Wistia tier is the “Pro” plan, which costs $100 per month. This plan includes storage space for up to 150 videos, along with standard features and the same 200 GB of monthly bandwidth. This plan does not use a Wistia-branded video player. Instead, it is a white label service.
Finally, the “Premium” plan offers higher bandwidth and storage options. This plan starts at $300 per month and offers some other features as well. For example, integration with HubSpot and other marketing platforms like Marketo, Pardot, and Salesforce begins at this pricing level.
Wistia live streaming and other drawbacks
Many users love Wistia. However, the platform has a number of drawbacks. Among the biggest of these is the lack of live streaming functionality. Like Vzaar, Wistia is a video-on-demand platform only. It does not support live broadcasting in an way.
Additionally, the platform can only host a maximum of 500 videos. Some reviewers have noted bugs in the marketing integrations platform. Additionally, while the analytics and reporting are detailed, they can be hard to manipulate into actionable information.
Comparing OVP DaCast to Vzaar and Wistia
Another alternative to Vzaar and Wistia is DaCast. Originally launched in 2010 after two years of development, DaCast is based in San Francisco and has an additional office in Paris.
The service bills itself as “Streaming as a Service,” and offers live streaming in addition to the video hosting offered by Vzaar and Wistia. Live streaming video has become a buzzword for marketers and communicators over the last few years, and with good reason. It’s a powerful means of telling a story.
DaCast company history and overview
Overall, DaCast is an easy to use, affordable platform with a white label video player and other high-end features. As a provider, the company offers two main services: video hosting and live streaming video delivery. This makes it slightly different than Vzaar and Wistia, but many users find DaCast to be preferable for other reasons.
DaCast’s best features
The DaCast platform offers a number of notable features. First, it is a white label platform. This means that all videos are hosted without branding.
Monetization is also a key feature. Both live and on-demand videos can be used to directly drive revenue. Via the API, you can use advertising networks like VAST to insert ads into your content.
However, you can also use a paywall method for pay-per-view billing. This is ideal for events like conferences, sporting events, and concerts. Additionally, you can use a subscription model. This allows you to charge weekly, monthly, or yearly fees for ongoing access to a library of videos. This is ideal for trainings, classes, and similar programs.
Another draw of DaCast is the fully featured API. The json RESTful API allows you to build your own applications around the DaCast platform. For example, the API allows you to integrate your DaCast-hosted video content into mobile, web, or desktop apps. You can also use the API to integrate streaming and online video into existing workflows with little fuss. Integration is simplified via a series of SDKs (software development kits), comprehensive documentation, and a sandboxed testing environment.
Another highlight of the DaCast platform is its use of the Akamai CDN (content delivery network). A CDN is a global network of servers that delivers your content to viewers from a closer geographic location. Basically, it ensures that your content is delivered with the least buffering and the maximum speed. The Akamai CDN is one of the most highly regarded in the world. In total, it has a network of more than 200,000 servers to ensure that content is delivered as rapidly and smoothly as possible.
Finally, DaCast offers comprehensive support directly from the team in the San Francisco and Paris offices, meaning you’ll never encounter outsourced call centers. Phone support is available for Pro and Premium plans, and calls are usually picked up in just a few minutes. Chat-based support is available 24/7.
Pricing for DaCast
DaCast services are offered in three main monthly tiers. The “Starter” plan begins at $19 per month and offers 100 GB of bandwidth and 20 GB of storage with email support. The “Pro” plan starts at $165 per month and includes 2,000 GB (2 TB) of bandwidth, 125 GB of storage, and phone support. The “Premium” plan is $390 a month and offers 5,000 GB (5 TB) of bandwidth, 250 GB of storage, and phone support.
Both the Pro and Premium plans are discounted by 10% when you purchase an annual subscription.
DaCast also offers event pricing for pre-paid bandwidth. This pricing starts at $0.25 per GB for 1-5 TB of content. Prices fall per GB as the amount of bandwidth needed rises. For 100-200 TB of pre-paid bandwidth, the per-GB price is only $0.07. All of these plans include all of DaCast’s features.
There is a 30-day free trial available for testing all the DaCast services.
DaCast live streaming
One of the primary advantages of DaCast compared to Vzaar and Wistia is the inclusion of live streaming services. DaCast offers many of the great features included in these other services, but adds this major piece. Instead of having to sign up for both a live streaming provider and a video host, DaCast combines these elements into one handy platform.
Streaming with DaCast is quite simple, and first-timers can start live streaming with relative ease. Quality is high, with full high-definition video supported out of the box. Audio-only streaming is also supported for internet radio and other uses.
There are many different video hosting services out there. Each of them offers a variety of positives and negatives. Our goal with this series of comparison articles is to look at these offerings and provide a comprehensive review. Hopefully, this essay will help you distinguish between different platforms and choose the best one for your needs.
We’re from DaCast, so even though we’ve worked to include objective information on other platforms, we hope that you’re going to try out our own! We offer a 30-day free trial that includes all the basic DaCast features so you can get a good sense of whether the platform is right for you. Want to try it out?