YouTube is by far the dominant video hosting platform on the web. With more than a billion users, incredible growth year after year, and a stunning number of hours of content watched per day, YouTube is an overwhelmingly popular media channel.
YouTube’s Runaway Success
Mark Robertson of ReelSEO (a internet marketing company dedicated to analyzing online video, among other technologies) has done some great mathematical analysis showing that as of summer 2015, YouTubers were uploading perhaps 500 hours of content every minute.
Now, a year later, that figure is probably nearer to 700 hours per minute. It’s simply a stunning about of video.
Many businesses and organizations are capitalizing on this success by hosting their content on the YouTube platform. It does provide some compelling advantages, first among them, a lot of users. YouTube is also free and has some pretty good functionality for hosting on-demand videos, embedding content, and so on.
Beyond the Hype: YouTube Drawbacks
However, there are also some compelling reasons not to use YouTube. According to the business marketing, production, and content management company Transport, YouTube should be primarily considered an entertainment platform, not a video hosting platform.
Transport advocates that businesses do use YouTube, but only for limited purposes with a clearly defined scope. They even recommend that users delete their old videos from YouTube after they have been online for a given time to avoid diluting the brand and distracting users with out-of-date content.
Links to YouTube, Not to Your Website
A further drawback pointed our by Transport is that YouTube links to the YouTube site, not to your web site. That means that whenever a user finds your video embedded on another website or in search results and clicks on the video, it will redirect to the YouTube page, generating views and ad revenue for Google, but reducing the chances of a positive outcome for you. Driving sales, capturing contact information, generating social engagement, and so on are difficult when you don’t control the content fully.
Transport’s final words on YouTube:
It’s an entertainment platform. If you’re going to use YouTube, use it the way it was meant to be used.
Personality and Branding
Shawn Forno, in his article for the business news website Business 2 Community, points out another major YouTube drawback:
A lot of YouTube is rainbows and puppies, which doesn’t make for the most professional appearance.
Professionalism (or lack thereof) can be a very serious matter for many organizations. Having your content hosted on YouTube opens you up to embarrassing possibilities, like the chance that a competitors advertisement will play before your video, or that some strange or otherwise NSFW video will appear in the “watch next” section after your video is done playing.
In fact, even non-embarrassing advertisements playing before (or during) your videos can be a major distraction. If you do choose to upload to YouTube, disable ads for your videos if at all possible.
These sorts of issues can harm businesses, damage relationships, hinder deals and contracts, and ruin events. These are not the sort of issues that any self-respecting organization wants to deal with.
Limited Customization and Branding
One major drawback of YouTube is that the YouTube video player contains their logo, not yours. The video marketers at Viewbix describe it like this:
While some minor tweaks are available, the YouTube player is not design rich. You can pick up a design out of several templates. But if your company is looking to maximize its brand equity with an exclusive player, then YouTube may not be the right video hosting choice.
We’d have to agree. The ability to play video in a custom-branded (or non-branded) video player is essential for many businesses and other organizations, and YouTube does not fit the bill for these situations.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to YouTube for video hosting, including options that are powerful, feature-rich, and can be customized to meet your needs. In the rest of this blog, we’ll examine five of top competitors to YouTube.
The longest-standing YouTube competitor is Vimeo, which reaches more than 100 million visitors per month. Vimeo is focused on reaching an artistic audience, and for many years forbid corporate and promotional videos on their platform. However, they have lifted that stricture for premium accounts.
Regardless, Vimeo is a great platform for creative content. Even businesses that are hosting material on Vimeo should focus on this angle to make the most of a community that is accustomed to beautiful, professional cinematography.
According to a Forbes article from Richard Tiland, Vimeo has some advantages over YouTube. Specifically, the platform has a connotation of integrity, entertainment, creativity, and quality.
There are a few additional advantages to using Vimeo over other platforms. It supports high-quality 4K video, and generally uses higher bit-rates than YouTube (read: better quality). Another example: users can determine their own thumbnails for videos, something that some other platforms do not allow.
Vimeo comes in three flavors: Free, Plus, Pro. Free accounts can upload 500 MB of video per week (up to 10 videos per day) and can create a restricted number of channels and albums.
Plus accounts ($59.95 per year) get 5 GB per week of storage, up to a total of 250 GB per year. Videos receive faster conversion upon upload, priority supports, and advanced analytics.
Pro accounts ($199 per year) get 20 GB of video storage per week, advanced privacy settings, private links, VIP support, and the ability to add a logo to their video player or even use a third party video player.
All these accounts have unlimited bandwidth for viewers and no advertising.
Pro users receive access to the Vimeo On Demand feature, which allows you to provide your videos for sale or rental (for streaming or download) via the Vimeo platform. The system also supports coupon codes, bundles, and a few other options for file sharing.
Wistia is a video hosting service for professional users that has been in operation for many years. Compared to the competition, Wistia may be expensive but delivers some very interesting features.
These features deliver enough value that Jenni McKinnon at WPMU Dev, a premium WordPress development firm, recommends Wistia as their favorite alternative to YouTube for video hosting.
The Wistia platform offers detailed analytics and user data to help you understand exactly how users access and interact with your content. These include trend graphs, which share performance trends over time in your video library.
Another interesting example of Wistia’s analytics features is “heat maps.” This tracking feature creates a color-coded graphic for each user that visits your videos (or an agglomerated average), showing how much of the video they watched, which parts were skipped, and which parts were re-watched. These heat maps can be exceptionally valuable in helping you determine what the most valuable elements in your productions truly are.
Premium plans on the Wistia platform include the ability to embed calls to action and email collection boxes directly into your videos, allowing users to interact directly in video windows to maintain a streamlined user experience.
Wistia Pricing is divided into four main plans: Free (which allows for 5 videos and doesn’t include advanced features, Basic for $25/month (which adds storage space for 25 videos and a white-label video player), Advanced for $50 per month (which inculdes space for 50 videos and all features), and Pro for $100/month (which includes space for 500 videos).
Enterprise plans for businesses with larger needs start at around $300 per month
Wistia also charges on a bandwidth basis. Any video you upload to their platform includes 200 GB of free bandwidth usage per month, and users are charged on a per GB basis for data overages. Free, Basic, and Pro plans pay 33 cents per GB, but enterprise plans feature declining per GB data overage costs as the tiers increase.
The integrated monetization options for Wistia are relatively limited. However, Wistia does work with a number of outside platforms to provide monetization options on a pay-per-view or membership/subscription model.
With a focus on hosting marketing videos for businesses, Vidyard is able to deliver a valuable feature set to a niche market. At the business service and software review company SMB Guru, Vidyard received an overall 80% rating for their video hosting service.
The SMB Guru review states:
Vidyard really shines when integrated into marketing automation. Its features for email capture and behavior triggering are the best in the category. Vidyard integrates well with Salesforce and several marketing automation programs.
Business 2 Community applauds Vidyard for “innovative analytics” and “deep video marketing integration.” They also point out that Vidyards lead generation forms, ROI calculations, and integration with CRM platforms is absolutely top notch.
Other features include the ability to conduct A/B testing on video thumbnails and a built-in system for the public to upload videos to your system, which is ideal for running video contests and similar marketing stunts.
Vidyard’s pricing is towards the more expensive end of the video hosting industry, but for some users, its features can make up for this price. SMB Guru advises that major businesses and organizations will find Vidyard a good fit for their needs:
Pricing is custom and depends on your needs, but aimed towards large and enterprise level businesses.
Videos hosted on Vidyard are not made to be sold directly, but rather to be used as part of a larger marketing and sales effort. However, this means that users cannot make sales of pay-per-view access or subscriptions to their video content.
Brightcove, which has been in existence since 2004, has long been a leader in the high-end and enterprise video hosting market.
Transport refers to Brightcove as an “industrial workhorse” that provides services to Fortune 10 companies looking for rock-solid hosting. Clients include Gannett, Sky, CBS Interactive, BBC, and Time.
Brightcove features include standard video hosting, privacy settings, video marketing integrations, advertising tie-ins, viewer tracking and detailed analytics, and galleries.
Services provided by Brightcove include VideoCloud (for hosting, publishing, and content security), Lift (which helps defeat ad blockers to maximize ad revenue), ZenCoder (for live cloud file encoding), Gallery (which allows you to create clean, attractive video portals in minutes), and Perform (which allows you to customize video player interfaces and appearance).
Brightcove also supports live streaming, including ad-supported live streaming.
Brightcove pricing varies depending on your needs. Contact Brightcove to speak with a representative about costs. They do offer a 30-day free trial of Brightcove VideoCloud.
Brightcove supports a full range of monetization options across a wide variety of hardware and platforms, including social media, embedded websites, and more. The service supports advertising (including a number of advanced client-side interactivity functions), pay-per-view video, and video subscriptions.
SproutVideo is another video host aimed squarely at the business market. SMB Guru names this as their category favorite, giving SproutVideo a 95% overall rating.
Security is a priority for SproutVideo, and their access control features make it easy to make a video private, password protected, or login protected. Additional security features include the standard IP address restriction, but also include a domain whitelist (for restricting embeds), signed embed codes that expire after a given period of time, and single sign-on support so that users already logged into your platform can be given access to videos as well.
SproutVideo’s analytics provide a wealth of data for ranking and sorting data about your users, as well as engagement tracking for detailed statistics on how exactly people are interacting with your content (and for how long). Wistia’s heat map feature is emulated here, as well.
Calls to action and email capturing can also be integrated into your video player window. Additional features include custom video players, HD video support, integration with Google Analytics, and a comprehensive API.
SproutVideo offers five different base plans, starting at $25 per month for 100 GB of storage, 150 GB of bandwidth, and $1.00 per GB for data overages. The top tier plan offers 3.2 TB of storage, 2.4 TB of bandwidth, and $0.20 per GB for overages. All plans support all of the SproutVideo features, except the lowest tier plan doesn’t provide engagement tracking metrics.
The service offers a 14-day free trial.
Like some other video hosts, SproutVideo doesn’t have integrated monetization sustems, but can be linked with advertising networks and other e-commerce platforms to sell content.
Choosing the Platform for You
As you can see, this is a crowded field. Beyond YouTube is a wealth of other video hosting options that have a lot in their favor, even when compared to the third biggest site on the internet.
There are many competitors in the video hosting realm, and each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. And we haven’t even covered all the platforms out there. Others, like our own DaCast video host platform, have their own upsides—and, we’d like to think, compare favorably with all of these options.
Choosing the right platform for your organization or business is all about deciding which combination of features, price, and service is right for you. It’s a complicated decision, and we can’t make it for you, but we hope the information in this comparison article (and others like it found on our website) will help you make an informed choice.
Thanks for reading, and let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments section below.