Video Hosting Guide 2012: What Are Your Options?
It’s 2012 and you’d think that everyone would be pretty much settled on what the best video hosting service would be and that new great options wouldn’t keep cropping up.
Well the world hasn’t caved in and the most popular video hosting service is certainly still Youtube, but for blog and website owners we need to consider more than just that.
I’ve recently been revamping my site Teach Yourself Websites to introduce a premium membership.
Inside, members get access to high quality, high definition video screencast tutorials on how to do all sorts of cool stuff with their WordPress websites.
That’s what initially led me on this hunt to find the best video hosting option for bloggers and why I’ve come ... today to share the results of my hours of research with you.
Weighing Up Benefits Vs. Priorities
One of the hardest things I found when searching for a video hosting service was that I had a lot of competing priorities.
For one, my videos aren’t like every other funny cat video. They don’t require a big audience to view them so audience public accessibility wasn’t a huge thing for me.
In fact, my videos are actually different from most because I don’t want them being shared around on a public system like Youtube.
There was also the issues of price as I was and am on a strict budget, replication across multiple continents for fast delivery, viewer statistics, ease of uploading and how easy it would be to display the videos on my site.
While it would be nice to have all of the above I did end up having to compromise just a little on my hosting to get the features I really wanted while still remaining within my budget.
So, when it comes time for you to choose your video service, you need to ask yourself these key questions:
1. Do you want your content accessible by the public?
If your videos are for general consumption by the public then you’re literally spoilt for choice and in the best position to choose your hosting option.
You could go as cheap as putting your videos on Youtube (free) or if you’re after more revealing statistics using something like Wistia.
If you’re in something like my situation, you don’t want your videos to be open to the public because they’re for members only. This requires a little more research because you need to block it off and have the content only accessible via your own site.
2. What is your monthly or yearly budget for hosting and serving video content?
Because I’m running a business and there is a large amount of high quality videos, I certainly expected to pay for video hosting but I wanted to get certain features out of that as well.
My budget is admittedly small, so I ended up sacrificing my desire for statistics that some of the higher end firms could have supplied me in order to go for a cheaper monthly cost on my bottom line.
I also ended up sorting out my own video player using an off the shelf HTML5 player called VideoJS.
The tip here is to be realistic about what you can save money on and what you can’t.
If you don’t have the technical know-how to setup your own video player on your site you should look at providers that cover that for you with their own player.
3. Do you need to serve the videos in multiple countries?
To figure this out I checked with my mailing list provider Mailchimp, and was really surprised to see that over 3 years Teach Yourself Websites has helped people from over 84 different countries build a website.
This means that my videos could potentially be viewed anywhere in the world be it from Egypt to Singapore to Jamaica to the US.
This means that replication of these videos across multiple continents is essential to ensure my content is served nice and fast anywhere in the world.
4. Are viewer statistics and demographics information important to you?
What I think is one of the coolest new features to hit the video hosting world is viewer stats.
You can get some truly exciting insight from looking at how people are consuming your videos.
Things like where people stop watching in particular videos. This is really important for landing page videos so you can re-do certain parts and avoid making the same mistakes over and over.
There might be an issue with the content not really being on topic and that means people abandon watching.
This is all really interesting data to a website owner that helps them fine tune their video content.
Unfortunately for me, the budget I am on meant that I am somewhat restricted about this at present, but it’s on the cards in the future because I can see how much potential this has for revealing how my audience interacts with my content.
Companies That I Narrowed Down To
The companies below were the big contenders that I looked at for Teach Yourself Websites, but if you have a favourite that I’ve neglected please do mention them in the comments below.
This is like the Rolls Royce of video content hosting as it stands in 2012. They provide really snappy hosting, the videos play fast and buffer quickly because they are a premium service.
You also pay for the privilege, but in saying that, you do get more features than anyone else. They have great video stats and analytics.
Personally I would have loved to go with these guys and it’s my ultimate goal for Teach Yourself Websites to do so, but at the moment that’s on the back burner.
Amazon provide some great web services via their AWS range of products. S3 is their scalable cloud storage solution.
It replicates data across multiple continents and can serve your content direct. You pay for content serving and storage as you use it, but it’s really dirt cheap and a great way to get started.
It’s no frills, of course. So you need to have a certain level of technical skill to set it up properly and get it working with your site.
You’ll also need to be careful about what format you serve your videos in as they don’t do anything for you except store the thing. This means that if you’re publishing in MP4 format, you’ll need to convert that over to OGG format for use on Firefox and other browsers and optionally a third format such as WebM if required.
Like Amazon, HDDN is a storage facility only, but it’s pretty affordable especially when you consider that the videos you host on their servers are replicated and also served out via their super fast CDN.
The company is actually owned by CDN network provider called NetDNA so the service is really great.
I’ve used this company before for a client and the speed of the videos and buffering is excellent. You’ll also need to make sure you provide the right formats though as you need to roll your own video player.
Ahh Youtube. We’ve had a love-hate relationship over the years but you made my list for sure.
Youtube have actually come quite a long way in the last two years as far as improving their features goes.
You now get things like video stats as standard. You can view demographics information too which is much more insightful than just a “views” number.
The hosting of your videos is free and you can create a brand channel which will help you build your brand and get people interested in coming to see your videos.
Youtube can also provide massive amounts of views on your videos and there are various promotion options there too.
Vimeo + Vimeo Plus/Pro
Vimeo is another service like Youtube, you can list videos on there for free and they go on their public network.
What is cool about Vimeo is that they also have a Plus and a Pro service where, for a monthly/yearly fee, you can have a private account and host your private videos with them.
On their Pro service you get a huge 50GB of storage and 250k plays. It’s slightly less for Plus, but as I’m a business I wasn’t really looking for a premium individual style account.
The bonus is they have their own player which is very compatible with all sorts of video types and can serve up your content in a consistent manner. Their player is also compatible with mobiles and tablets if that’s a consideration.
Conclusion And Final Thoughts
I guess I am at a slight advantage in that I have the technical know how to roll my own video player that will be compatible enough to get the job done. So that allows me to keep costs down by choosing a no frills kind of video host.
Having stats would have been nice (very nice in fact) because then I can see how my customers like the content and what I can improve.
But for me, the biggest thing to improve is just getting more comfortable performing tutorials for people on video and that’s what I’m concentrating on at first.
I was actually quite nervous the first time I flicked on the screencasting software and if you’ve ever done video creation I’m sure you can relate. But it definitely get’s easier with time and practice.
For Teach Yourself Website’s new membership area I’ve decided to go with Amazon S3 as my video hosting company.
The reasons are:
- I felt I could compromise on statistics
- I really needed replication
- I was on a strict budget. At the end of the month Amazon will only charge me for what I’ve used and from what I’ve calculated, that will be quite affordable for a long time to come.
- If I need faster content delivery I can switch on Amazon CloudFront, their super fast CDN service, and it works hand in hand with my S3 account with very little change required.
So for this flexibility and price it suits me quite well, but I do have an eventual goal to switch to something more comprehensive with some customer support options as well. I’ll probably look at Wista or Vimeo Pro depending on what my needs are at the time.
So what are you doing for video hosting? Is it something that you’ve thought about for you website or business and if so, what did you end up choosing?
I’m keen to see how other people are thinking about video for their blogs and websites so let’s have a chat in the comments.
If you’re thinking of building a website, you might want to check out our free web design eCourse which will help you get going.
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