When it comes to video hosting there is normally just one solution on the table, and that solution is YouTube. Its free, trusted and lets be honest rather good! However, there are other options, and in some cases very special reasons why you might wish to consider using them instead.
First of all lets look at why YouTube is still the most popular choice. Obviously its lack of fees and general acceptance are common reasons for selection, but there are some good technical and marketing points to consider too. The huge audience, the advanced indexing & searching tools and the compatibility with desktop, entertainment and mobile devices make it an easy choice. Oh and did I mention its free. On the downside we have the advertising, persistent branding and darker troll-like inhabitants that like ruining everyone’s fun.
Vimeo offers a cleaner and more professional interface with an overall higher quality of video playback. Unlike YouTube this is a paid solution unless you are making your own videos and they are not for promotional/business use. The Pro service is based on a annual subscription and uses a tiered approach to allow payment based on the number of plays. This starts at 250,000 so it may take a while before the need to upgrade. Vimeo Pro also allows you to customise the player, embed in full HD and of course has no adverts or third party branding. Vimeo is a good solution for video hosting scenarios that require quality delivery and full control.
There are a number of more advanced hosting services such as Brightcove and Wistia. These offer a number of clever features such as paid viewing, interactive elements and access to a programming interface. Other component systems such as Bits on the run and Amazon cloudfront need separate players and more complex set-ups, but often result in cheaper running costs for high traffic videos. These advanced systems are powerful but need to be carefully matched to your requirements to ensure maximum effectiveness and sensible running costs.
One of the main advantages of using an advanced hosting service, a streaming provider or even self hosting the video concerns search engine placement. Videos hosted on YouTube and other competitors such as Vimeo, Viddler and Vzaar are often indexed on the providers site rather than the page it is embedded on. This means that your website misses out on the direct link. This is especially true of YouTube where potential advertising revenue is at stake. Using a non YouTube video hosting provider, increases the chance of direct listings in the search results providing a single click to your website. Unfortunately it is not as simple as this, as YouTube results appear to be prioritised over self hosted videos possibly due to Google owning YouTube.