Either I’m missing something, or there is a huge hole in the video hosting ecosystem waiting to be filled.
I want a video hosting service with the following features:
- I can upload a video in any common format and it will be re-encoded to various web-safe formats, with sensible presets for bitrate etc.
- A WordPress plugin lets me embed the video in my blog and will set up the post links so that the video shows up as a podcast enclosure in the Atom feed.
- The embed will display a nice, attractive player with optional HD playback which is HTML5-enabled, mobile-friendly, and can fall back to flash.
- The videos will be hosted on a fast CDN.
- I can put any kind of (legal) content I want in the videos, and make them as long as I want.
- The videos will not have ads overlayed unless I ask for them.
YouTube gives me #1 and #3, but has ads, has length limits, and I can’t find a way to include direct links to the video files as podcast enclosures.
Blip.tv and Vimeo have strict content restrictions that most of their users aren’t even aware of until they run afoul of them. I once had my Blip account suspended because I made a video showing a web app I liked, and they deemed it “advertising”. That’s right: Vimeo and Blip.tv slap ads on your content, but using the content to sell something is absolutely forbidden. I managed to explain that I wasn’t advertising anything, I was just demoing an app I thought was cool, and they eventually reinstated my account. But I realized then that I would never use those services again. I don’t want all my videos suddenly dropping offline due to one overzealous censor. And what if I do want to sell something some day?
Bits-on-the-run seems to be approaching what I want, but their complicated pay-as-you-go model makes me nervous. I like fixed monthly costs.
I signed up for a VideoPress account, thinking that it was exactly what I needed. And at $60/year for a basic account, pretty reasonably priced. Turns out that while they claim to support self-hosted WordPress accounts, there is a “known issue” with the plugin which makes it fail to insert videos into posts. That’s a minor issue; a much bigger one is that they don’t support setting up podcast enclosures on self-hosted accounts. Transparent podcast setup was one of the biggest selling points for me, so I’m thinking of asking for a refund.
EDIT: I just did a comparison of Bits on the Run to the VideoPress player and discovered that VideoPress also compressed the living hell out of even the “HD” version of the video. The BotR HD version (once I figured out how to enable it) is razor-sharp by comparison.
PowerPress can handle the podcasting setup and also provides an embedded player, provided you encode and host the videos yourself. I use it for the WideTeams podcast, but their embedded video player isn’t very attractive or featureful last I checked. And I haven’t been thrilled with the delivery speed of self-hosted video when I’ve tried it.
I’ve heard good things about Sublime Video. I liked what I was seeing until it suddenly dawned on me: they are charging $100/year just to serve and embedded video player widget. Not to host the videos themselves, just the widget. I’m sure it’s a great widget, but it’s not the service I’m looking for.
What am I missing?
Don’t know for sure, but does the Pro option on Vimeo give you more options?
Not missing anything — to get my own HTML5 video for a client, we used Zencoder to get the versions, and hosted on S3 with videojs.com’s player. End result: awesome — but could a non programmer do that? negative.
I blogged about the zencoder piece: http://jessewolgamott.com/blog/2011/12/07/html5-videos-using-zencoder-for-videojs-dot-com/ and end-result: http://knocked-upfitness.com/
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Check out http://vzaar.com I think they meet your criteria. Simple to use, low cost and they have a full set off features designed for business. HTML 5 fall back, powered by a Global CDN, podcast feature, no ads and no duration limits.
With the help of word press we can easily maintain the blogging and hosting so it is not a very big issue.
I don’t think YouTube, Blip, nor Vimeo require you to run ads, and YouTube has lifted their length limits for most users: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=71673
Wow, very comprehensive review. I’m thinking about learning HTML5. I’m seeing more and more job/freelance listings asking for html5 media playerknowledge and so along with reading some of the online references you listed, I’m going to have to pick up the book as well. Really appreciated the chapter breakdowns.
I’d like to add one missing point to your list, the ability to keep the videos private, i.e. only embed them in your own site. Vimeo business allows this (different than pro). It’s the closest thing I’ve seen, but I’m not sure I want to shell out that much for it.
Hi Avdi. I just ran across this post. I think we have what you’ve been missing and looking for, if I may be so forward. Please check out my company Wistia: http://wistia.com. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such a cogent, well-constructed fashion.
Hi there! I took a look at wistia, but it seemed more oriented towards people who have a few marketing videos and want lots of stats on them, rather than people like me who would like to regularly publish videos (potentially growing a very large library) as part of our content. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Thanks Avdi. Great insight. You’re not wrong per se. In our experience (from working with our customers who range from the few marketing videos to folks just like you) we’ve found that the value of stats doesn’t really diminish based on volume of views or size of audience / library.
I use BOTR. Here’s what I do, though. I only use BOTR to upload so I can create an itunes feed. I then publish them to YouTube (From BOTR). On my WordPRess I only embed the YouTube videos, so it doesn’t run up my BOTR bill. For those people that subscribe to the Itunes, that’s where BOTR feeds the video.
This has worked thus far. Although I do occasionally have issues with BOTR running out of cash….
I’ve spent the whole day looking for a solution, so frustrating.. Tried Amazon S3 over and over and it doesn’t seem to work with the plugins or have an embed code available. Could be just too advanced for me to use but I’m pretty web savvy, someone needs to make a better solution!
Has video hosting for WordPress improved in the last ten years?
In retrospect I regret framing this as a wordpress issue, because there is nothing WordPress-specific about it. It’s what anyone searching for video hosting that they control runs into.
Have things improved… maybe a little. I should write a follow-up article I guess. I’ve used Wistia for years now. Vimeo is still a shitshow. I hear good things about Bunnynet. I think a lot of people (still) use S3 plus a hosted player solution like Presto.