Now I will be one of the first to admit that I am somewhat of an Automattic fanboi. I love WordPress, and use several of Automattic’s other services. However, even I was skeptical of what I considered a too-good-to-be-true video-hosting service.
A Little Background
I have been hosting my videos on YouTube for quite a while now. I especially liked their new HD feature and the ability for my screencast software to export directly to the service.
I didn’t (and still, really don’t) care that the YouTube player is branded and shows ads. It worked, and worked well, and that’s really all I cared about it. And best of all, it was free.
However, I ran into a roadblock with some of my videos. The ten-minute time-limit was really started to kill me. Some of my videos ran longer, and as a result, I’d have to re-script them to run in the allotted time, which was frustrating.
I began searching for alternatives.
The Search Begins
First, there was the highly-touted Vimeo. For $59.95 a year, you get an ad-free player with what seems like unlimited bandwidth and ample storage.
However, as I read into the fine-print, Vimeo had several show-stoppers. The first was the limitations on HD video plays. Users are limited to 25,000 HD plays a year. While this may seem like a lot, it’s about 2080 plays a month. If your video suddenly gets popular, you are out of luck (although you can limit your video to specific domains to reduce this effect).
The 2nd show-stopper for me is the lack of commercial content. It doesn’t matter if the video is non-commercial in nature at all. If you host the video on a site that has any commercial attributes at all (banner ads, Adsense, affiliate links), you’re in violation of their terms and you will get canceled with little notice.
The rest of the review will present a comparison of the three services and I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is worth your hard-earned money.
For the sake of comparison, I’ll make the following assumptions:
- You have 3 GBs worth of video, with each file weighing in at 20 MBs (a total of 150 files).
- You receive about 750 plays a month for a total usage of 15 GBs of bandwidth a month.
For $30 a month (for their silver package), you get what appears to be unlimited storage, HD-quality video, and 15 GBs of video-playback bandwidth a month.
Vzaar also allows you to heavily customize their player, has embed options (for sharing), and several other nice features.
However, the first thing I saw then visiting the site is the $30 a month price ($360 a year) and what I considered very little bandwidth. For the 150 video files we assume we have, I can imagine this bandwidth will be consumed rather quickly. You can increase your bandwidth cap, but that means you will also increase your monthly cost.
I tend to think of Vzaar as kind of the Audi of video-hosting sites. Yes, it’s fantastic. Yes, you will pay up the nose. Is it worth it?
Another video-hosting service I considered was Amazon S3. However, hosting on Amazon S3 is not for your average Joe. It’s fairly complicated and I would argue not for the average WordPress user.
The prices are reasonable ($0.150 per GB of storage and $0.150 per GB of bandwidth). Using our assumptions, this works out to be roughly $5.40 a year for storage (3 GBs * $0.15 *12). Using our 15 GBs of bandwidth will set us back $27 a year (15 GBs * 0.15 * 12). This brings us to $32.40 a year compared to Vzaar’s $360 a year plan.
However, with S3, you are the video host. You must deal with the uploads, the video crunching, the Flash player, the permissions, embed capability, etc.
For me, personally, the complexity wasn’t what turned me off. I didn’t like how “variable” everything was. I wanted one flat bill that I would have to worry about once and forget about it afterwards. With Vzaar I wasn’t getting that. With Amazon S3 I wasn’t getting that.
When I first looked at VideoPress, I was skeptical, especially after looking at other video-hosting sites.
VideoPress provides HD-quality video with 3 GBs of storage for $59.99 a year.
Its main audience is WordPress.com users, who can use the service to upload any type of video they like, as long as it doesn’t violate their Terms of Service.
The end result is a mostly unbranded player with unlimited (yes, unlimited) bandwidth.
Compared to Vzaar, here’s what VideoPress doesn’t have:
- An unbranded player
- A highly customizable player
- MailChimp integration
- Unlimited storage
- And several others
However, VideoPress does have:
- Full integration with WordPress.com
- Full integration with self-hosted WordPress installs through its VideoPress WordPress plugin.
- Can upload videos as much as 1 GB
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Can automagically re-size itself to fit your content’s width
And if 3 GBs of storage is not enough for you, you can purchase more at a fairly reasonable price.
So How Does VideoPress Work?
Well, the first thing you’ll have to do is create a site through WordPress.com.
From there, you must purchase the VideoPress option through a WordPress.com upgrade.
Now I know a lot of you who have self-hosted WordPress installs might cringe at the prospect of creating a WordPress.com account. However, this is one of those set-it-up-once-and-forget scenarios. Once the site is set up with VideoPress, you can log out and forget about it (unless you want more storage).
From there, you would install the VideoPress WordPress Plugin on your self-hosted install. After activating, you’ll see a video camera icon when writing a post (next to your other media options). If you click on that, you’re asked to sync with your WordPress.com account. From there, you can start uploading and inserting your videos (via shortcode).
If your video’s dimensions are over 1280×720, VideoPress will provide an HD version of your video.
Who is VideoPress For?
Well, for my purposes, it’s for me: a commercial plugin author wanting a reasonably-priced video hosting solution that I can share with my customers without violating some obscure TOS and worrying about bandwidth caps.
However, for you non-commercial folks out there who like sharing videos of, well, anything, this service is for you as well. The 3 GBs of storage should be plenty, you don’t have to worry about the sometimes spicy ads that free services provide, and you especially don’t have to worry about bandwidth limits. You also don’t have to worry about losing your videos by putting ads or referral links on your site.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which hosting solution is right for you and your budget.