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VideoPress Review

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April 16th, 2010
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General, WordPress, WordPress Plugins

videopress.png

Within this review, I will provide an objective view on the video-hosting service called VideoPress (owned by Automattic).

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.

Frustrated, I began looking into more “commercial” type hosting. I took a long hard look at Vzaar and Amazon S3. I then checked out VideoPress.

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.

Vzaar

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?

Amazon S3

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.

VideoPress

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
  • Watermarking
  • 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.

Conclusion

In this review I compared Automattic’s VideoPress with two commercial video-hosting sites Vzaar and Amazon S3.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which hosting solution is right for you and your budget.

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34
Responses

 

Comments

  1. Liz Krane (1 comments.) says:

    I’m a huge WordPress fan, myself! But personally, I would not yet pay money for hosting videos as I don’t use HD video (at least not yet).

    I’m in love with Blip.tv, which has free video hosting, optional ads that share revenue with the users, and no branding. It has its limits, like all the free video sites, but it’s a very nice solution — highly recommended!

    I’d be curious to know how many people use HD for screencasts these days — is it really necessary?

    • Niall Kennedy (3 comments.) says:

      If your main use is embedding new videos inside your blog post does HD really matter? A “HD” video might be twice the width of your blog post. Cellphones and digital cameras with a video mode take good enough video for most people, and at a resolution suitable for blog embeds.

      • Ronald huereca (32 comments.) says:

        HD is invaluable for full screen viewing. Even on mobile devices, you can tell the difference between standard and hi-def.

        As mentioned in the review, VideoPress will automatically resize itself to your theme’s content area. However, it is up to the theme author to define $content_width in the theme’s functions.php file.

  2. Carl Hancock says:

    I’m pretty sure the amount of VideoPress space you have is tied to the amount of WordPress.com space you have so you can increase your VideoPress storage from 3GB up to 25GB (max) by increasing your WordPress.com storage via premium upgrades. You aren’t limited to 3GB. That is just what comes with your free WordPress.com account.

  3. Dan (1 comments.) says:

    It’s hard to see how Videopress is any better than Youtube from your review, besides the time limit (and anyway Youtube has different account types with higher limits). You complain about Youtube’s branding but then choose the also-branded Videopress.
    Maybe, as a “fanboi”, you want to pay Automattic 60 dollars a year to have them brand your player? I think that’s the target market for this.

    • Ronald huereca (32 comments.) says:

      Dan,

      The only other account type I saw on YouTube was Partners, which you have to meet some fairly strict criteria. The other is Director, but gives you no other extra perks. Perhaps you can point me in the right direction?

      As far as branding, VideoPress’s branding is far less subtle than YouTube’s.

      And you may disregard time limit, but it is a big deal. Just do a quick search on Google about it.

  4. Rhett Soveran (9 comments.) says:

    Hey Ronald,

    Have you looked at Viddler’s pro service? I’m using it for the magazine I work for and I’ve found it to be the best for what I needed.

    http://www.viddler.com/signup/business-features/

    I think the one point that you missed, which is likely important to a lot of bloggers, is the community around the video hosting service. Obviously, .com has a lot of users, but this is actually the first I’ve really read about VideoPress, so I am curious about the community aspect of it.

    I wonder if services like Vimeo or YouTube (or maybe even Viddler) offers a significantly larger community?

    Rhett

  5. Jake Spurlock (1 comments.) says:

    Isn’t the VideoPress service open source? I thought there was a place where you could download/run the entire platform on your own server too…

    • Niall Kennedy (3 comments.) says:

      Yep! wordpresscom-video-server is a project on code.trac.wordpress.org. It’s available under a GPLv2 license, just like WordPress. The underlying video transcoding software is all open-source as well, with varying licenses and encoding patents that may apply where you live.

  6. Niall Kennedy (3 comments.) says:

    Hi,
    I run the VideoPress product at Automattic. Thanks for your review.

    The biggest difference between VideoPress and services such as YouTube is a focus on the embed experience, not the destination site experience. There is no VideoPress.com showcase of every video; it’s all about your site and providing video content to your visitors in the best way possible.

    VideoPress is tightly integrated with WordPress, allowing for the content_width automagically resizing videos to fit within your post. The tight integration allows us to output different markup for browsers, feed readers, or an iPhone. Search engine optimization and social sharing optimization is built-in with support for special post treatment on Facebook, rich snippets on Google and Yahoo!, and integration with existing sitemaps. VideoPress also supports RSS enclosures and MediaRSS, so a Weblog Tools Collection video feed can show up in iTunes or Miro with HD video for desktop viewing.

    Regarding the “HD” embed option on other services, I’m not sure you want that. The “HD” embed crams a 1920 pixel width video into an average WordPress theme’s content width of ~500 pixels. That’s more bandwidth charged to you, and longer downloads for your viewers.

    The Amazon S3 option requires you to install your own Flash and HTML5 player and track the links to your S3 bucket (after you have transcoded your camera’s video output into your format(s) of choice). There may be good plugins to handle that functionality for you, but it’s more hands-on. VideoPress and other video services place your files on a CDN, sending your video around the world for fastest delivery. Amazon Cloudfront is a better comparison.

  7. Aminul Islam Sajib (1 comments.) says:

    For general end-users like me, YouTube is still perfect (simply because it’s free).

  8. Tim U (1 comments.) says:

    I host my videos on blip.tv and play them through Flowplayer. That gives me free hosting with my videos distributed to blip.tv and other video sites plus the benefit of an unbranded player on my site with no post-roll screen with links to competitors’ videos. Although that isn’t on a WordPress site.

    If I were considering a video-heavy WordPress site, then I’d take a look at VideoPress. But blip.tv is hard to beat.

  9. Miguel says:

    Blip.tv offers unlimited bandwith, no file conversion (if we upload in flv or h264/mp4) it wont reconvert it, you can stream the original flv or HD file, unbranded and customizable player.

    Amazon S3? Vzaar? Youtube let me laugh…. all fall behind blip.tv

  10. Kirk M (67 comments.) says:

    A fair review all around. I can’t really comment on which service might be better suited for me as I don’t create any videos at present. but who knows what the future might bring? One thing I’d like to point out though is I doubt there would be much cringing of DYI WordPress-ers out there since I can pretty much guarantee that the majority of them already have wordppress.com accounts.

    Ever hear of something called Akismet? ;)

  11. Kirk M (67 comments.) says:

    Please excuse typos…haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet.

  12. Nicolas (25 comments.) says:

    I use YouTube for my personal amusement as well. As of now I would suggest checking out Blip.tv as mentioned by Miguel. The VideoPress service is more for “professionals” as of right now I would think but as it was also mentioned in an earlier comment you could get the framework for VideoPress and use it to your favor (there’s a video on this on WordPress.tv if you’re interested finding out more).

  13. gestroud says:

    +1 for Blip.tv

  14. Andrew@BloggingGuide (63 comments.) says:

    Another +1 for blip.tv and also Youtube, as always.

  15. Ricardo (9 comments.) says:

    Hi everyone

    Im Ricardo (Miguel), the one who commented about blip.tv, just thought of elaborating a bit more…

    If you’re in to video streaming you’ll know what i mean, blip.tv offers a range of features that no one can beat nowadays, altought it exists for as long as youtube it doesnt get noticed.

    a few months ago i did a quick comparisson between several streaming video codecs (wmv, flv, vp6, x264, theora, divx avc etc) and i hosted all those files in their native formats on blip.tv, blip.tv allows hotlinking or you can use their unbranded player and customize it as you like with links etc

    altough it keeps the files in their native format it also converts every format to flv, the user can choose which one to use.

    heres a link to the test i done a few months ago:
    ricardouk.com/2010/01/x264-vs-divx-avc-vs-vp6-vs-wmv-vs-flash-vs-theora.html

    also you can monetize your videos and unlike youtube you can use wether you’re from USA or Europe.

    I dont work for blip.tv, just passing info on what i think is a great service free of charge

  16. Michael Torbert (3 comments.) says:

    I personally use VideoPress and love it. We installed VideoPress on a server and played around with it but considering the low cost of the service, it’s not worth doing it yourself for most people (bandwidth, CPU, etc).
    At the price Automattic is offering it’s a great bargain.

  17. mike says:

    Amazon S3 versus Videopress

    I am setting up a WordPress membership site that has video that i do not want to been seen (except by paying members). Naturally, i don’t want people to be sharing the videos either.

    Does Videopress allow for the protection of my content (say when someone no longer subscibes to my service)

    I am looking into software that will DRIP my content for paid members (e.g. wishlist; DAP; amember…)

  18. Kelly (1 comments.) says:

    I have a wordpress page and was excited to finally be technologically savvy enough to add video…as I found out, it’s an extra cost. Thanks for the review… I’m considering this expense, but was curious if anyone knows of a coupon out there? What can I say…it’s still a lot of money for a broke student.

  19. Frank says:

    I realize this article is a year old but hopefully someone can help answer some questions…. I am in need of commercial video hosting, right now I am looking between VideoPress, Viddler, Vzaar, and Oculu.

    Does VideoPress let you publish links within the video player? I’m guessing no if there are no branding options, but I could be wrong.

    Also, does VideoPress have flexible video sizing to automatically optimize for mobile viewing – or would that have to be manually detected for each video?

    thanks in advance

    • James Huff (184 comments.) says:

      You can’t have links in the player, but the video size does scale down as necessary when viewed on mobile devices.

  20. Frank says:

    So if VideoPress transcodes multiple sizes from one single video, do those count separately towards the 3gb storage limit?

    • James (184 comments.) says:

      No, only one size is processed, and the scaling is handled by the device playing it.

  21. Frank says:

    James, thanks for the answer.

    As far as re-branding options, is it possible to place links within or at the end of the video?

  22. Nofia (1 comments.) says:

    I’m opening a social network on wordpress self hosted and I am looking for reliable video storage. the question is, do I have to have a separate subscription for every subdomain and just how much storage can you upgrade to?

    • James (184 comments.) says:

      A VideoPress subscription is linked to one WordPress.com account, which you can then use on as many other sites as you want by just using the video’s embed code or shortcode.

      A WordPress.com account comes with 3 GB of free space, and that can be expanded as necessary through additional upgrades.

  23. Afnan (1 comments.) says:

    I am not sure if Videopress would be a good option if only embedding a video is the purpose, I mean that can be done via youtube.. isn’t it?



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