After all the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into creating your video, finding a video hosting site probably feels like just one more mountain to climb before you can reap the delicious rewards of video marketing.
Luckily, we’re here to turn that mountain into nothing more than a molehill. In this article, we’re going to look at the 10 best video hosting sites in 2020, including the pros and cons, main features, and the pricing structures, to help you find the best place for your video to set up camp on the world wide web!
What is video hosting?
Before we get started, it’s important to know exactly what video hosting is and why it is important.
Video files are large, and so hosting one directly on your website is likely to devour your bandwidth and storage space. This often results in playback errors and quality problems when people try to watch your video, particularly on mobile devices. And with over half of all video content online being viewed on mobile, that’s a big no-no.
To get around this you can use a video player that plays different size and quality versions of your video based on the users bandwidth and device size. But this means saving out a bunch of different versions of your video in advance which can get confusing.
Hosting your video on-site could also decrease page speed, as your player is unlikely to be optimised for streaming, which is a major ranking factor (on mobile as well as desktop), in turn impacting your organic search ranking.
Hosting your video using a dedicated video host eliminates those problems and simply provides you with an embed code that you can use to add your video to any web page.
When it comes to video hosting sites, there are many options to choose from, and the one you choose will depend on what you want to achieve with your video content. Some platforms are better for exposure, others are useful if you want access to analytics.
It’s also worth thinking about cost here. Video hosting sites vary in price, ranging from free to a three-figure monthly subscription fee, and while on the surface the free options may seem like a no-brainer, both have pros and cons. For example, free video hosting sites may place ads around your video (they have to make money somehow!), but business video hosting sites will make your content the main focus for viewers. This is extremely important if you’re a business and you want to keep people on your site to enquire or make a purchase.
Best video hosting sites
So, now that you have some things to think about, let’s compare the best video hosting sites for 2020.
It’s impossible to think of online video without thinking of YouTube. Ever since the first video was posted to the platform over ten years ago, it has gone from strength to strength, snowballing in size. According to Medium, 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every month–it’s difficult to wrap your head around!
Just in case you are an alien from the planet Zargon (in which case, Hi!), we’re going to go through the main features of YouTube. From a viewer’s perspective, it is very easy to use. The tab down the left-hand side lists categories that can be clicked on to view videos that fit that description.
Whenever you are watching videos, there is also a recommended videos section on the right-hand side that suggests similar videos you might like based on your previous behaviour on the site.
As a video hosting platform, it is also easy to use. You just need to sign in with your Google account (assuming you have one already) and click the ‘Upload Video’ icon to start hosting your videos on YouTube:
The main benefits of the platform are that it is free and popular. The exposure you will get on YouTube is currently unmatched on other platforms, so if you’re looking to increase brand awareness then this could be a good place to start.
However, the volume of videos on the platform can also be a bad thing. For a start, your video could get lost in the crowd if you don’t make an effort to improve your video SEO.
If you host your video on YouTube then you can easily grab an embed code and embed the video on your website, so viewers don’t need to visit YouTube to watch your video.
However, you need to be vigilant of YouTube’s agenda. YouTube wants people to stay on YouTube, or if they are on your website then YouTube wants to lure them away.
If a viewer has the ‘autoplay’ feature switched on, then moments after your call to action appears on screen, YouTube is going to start playing the next video. This will take viewers’ attention away from your brand, product, or service.
Even without the autoplay feature, Youtube still suggests videos that the viewer might be interested in watching next, and this again takes attention away from your business and product.
Additionally, ads will sometimes appear next to your video, like this one:
You have no say in what appears here, but YouTube always tries to make ads relevant to users. This means if your competitors are paying for PPC ads on YouTube then these could appear right next to your video!
To end on a high, YouTube does offer some basic analytics to track such as engagement and reach–which is great when you consider the platform is completely free.
Our suggestion: YouTube has the most users of any video platform. Therefore if you’re looking for views or brand awareness then upload your video to YouTube. However, if you’re trying to educate people about your product or service, and want people to stay on your website, then use a paid business video host. This will keep people on your site so they can take the next step in your buying journey.
Vimeo is like YouTube’s straight-laced, older brother (surprisingly, it is actually 3 months older than YouTube). This platform is for people who are serious about video content, and this makes it a great place to host yours.
There are never any ads around your content, and comments are usually constructive in nature, unlike YouTube where it seems anything goes. You can also embed Vimeo videos to your website by simply grabbing an embed code:
Many people prefer the cleaner look and feel of the Vimeo player over the YouTube alternative.
While being similar to Youtube in many ways, Vimeo receives considerably less traffic. But traffic isn’t everything. When it comes to making videos for your business, it’s not always about the volume of viewers, it’s about the quality of those views. You want views from people who are interested in potentially purchasing your product or service, not views from people who are looking for ‘funny fail’ videos.
As you can see from the chart below, YouTube receives a lot more direct traffic, but Vimeo trumps it in other sources, including search, social media, and mail.
Vimeo does have a free plan called ‘Vimeo Basic’, but if you want access to better features like unlimited bandwidth and customer support then you should probably sign up for one of their plans. Plans start from $6/month for 250GB of yearly storage and increase to $70/month for the premium package that includes 7TB of total storage.
All of these plans give you access to analytics, although the less expensive your plan is, the less impressive your analytics will be. The ‘Plus’ plan only offers a stats dashboard that includes social stats and custom reports, whereas the ‘Premium’ plan boasts all of that and includes engagement and duration graphs as well as Google Analytics integration.
Our suggestion: If your video is artsy, or if you feel the Vimeo audience is aligned with your brand, then Vimeo is for you. You can also use Vimeo to embed videos on your website as they don’t show ads.
Wistia is a video hosting platform that is specifically for businesses. It doesn’t display your videos publicly, but it does make it easy for you to host your videos on your site. All you do is copy and paste an embed code, and your video will play in a customised player with no ads!
The lack of a public-facing side could be seen as a con, but Wistia makes up for that by being extremely focused on the business-side of video marketing, i.e. analytics and business-specific functionality.
Their analytics dashboard is very advanced, but at the same time it is easy to interpret. Among other stats, the dashboard shows average engagement, play rate, and even a heatmap view:
You can even hone in on how engagement differs from second to second:
There are three different plans, including a free one for businesses that are just getting started with video. The free plan is very basic, with a three video limit and Wistia branding across all videos. The ‘Pro’ plan is $99/month and for that price you can remove the Wistia branding from your videos and also add as many videos as you want (the first 10 are free and the rest are charged at $0.25 each per month). If you’re super-serious about video, then you’ll probably want the ‘Advanced’ plan. You need to contact Wistia to discuss pricing, but included with that are 100 videos, A/B testing functionality, and access to priority support.
Wistia support is really worth shouting about. They have a great reputation for taking care of their users. In an interview with Jeff Vincent, the Director of Customer Happiness at Wistia, he reported that the most important metric for his support reps to aim for is, funnily enough, happiness!
Our suggestion: If you want people to watch videos on your website then Wistia is a great solution. It lets people watch videos in a beautiful player with no ads. It also provides a lot of data so you can make informed video marketing decisions.
Like Wistia, Vidyard are also more focused on the business side of video hosting. In fact, hosting is just one of their many features. Their main focus is increasing the value of your video, whatever that may mean for you, e.g. increasing conversions, engagement, and so on.
Vidyard lets you upload, download, and store unlimited assets, and share them anywhere for maximum viewership. They guarantee 99.99% uptime and are already supporting the likes of 4K and 360 videos.
Vidyard isn’t currently transparent with its pricing online, so you will have to contact them to discuss your needs. It seems that all plans are custom-built in a ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ style, allowing you to select the features you want and disregard the ones you don’t–meaning you only pay for what you need.
Some of their most impressive features include: A/B testing, real-time analytics, and CRM integration.
Our suggestion: If you want viewers to take action after watching your video then Vidyard is the perfect solution.
Over the past couple years, Facebook has been steadily increasing its interest in video and some even believe it will overtake YouTube soon. Like YouTube, it’s free to host your video on Facebook and you will also gain access to a basic analytics dashboard.
If you want to embed your Facebook video onto your website, all you need to do is click the 3 dots under the video and click ‘embed’ to grab the code:
Although over one billion people scroll through Facebook’s news feed every single day, videos still default to playing silently. So if you’re hosting your video on Facebook, you should make sure it can be understood without sound. In addition to that, organic reach on Facebook has declined steadily over the past year, so you may want to invest in the platform’s impressive ad targeting as a way to capture the attention of viewers.
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of hosting your video on Facebook is that it is easy to monetise your content. Facebook makes it easy to put ads before your video and even create ad breaks in between, however, when it comes to explainer videos, engagement should be more important than ad revenue.
Our suggestion: Facebook has a huge audience of people ready to watch your video. However the lack of organic reach means you’ll need to use Facebook ads to get it in front of your target audience.
Boasting clients such as Ford, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even the BBC, with Brightcove you know you’re in good hands.
Unlike other platforms, Brightcove plans are broken down into uses rather than prices. There’s one for marketing, one for enterprise use, and one for monetisation.
Brightcove is very focused on helping users to increase the revenue of their videos, with options for ad integration and a subscription-based business model.
Brightcove also differentiates itself from other video hosting sites by claiming to have the best HTML5 player in the industry (70% faster than any other video player!), as well as robust live-stream functionality.
In addition, the platform integrates with an impressive number of MAPs (marketing automation platforms) and CRMs, including Hapyak, HubSpot, and Wirewax.
Our suggestion: If you want to make revenue from your videos then Brightcove is one of the leading solutions.
Vzaar is a hosting platform without a public-facing network, but it prides itself on not only being a place to host your videos, but also a place to manage and organise them. You can organise your videos by categories, labels, and playlists so they are always easy to find.
As far as pricing goes, it isn’t the most expensive platform, but it isn’t free either. Plans start from £166/month (billed annually) for 1000 GB of storage and 1000 GB monthly bandwidth. There is a small charge if you go over your bandwidth, so you will need to monitor that closely. If you need to scale up, other plans are also available:
Like other sites on the list, Vzaar also has a fully customisable player, advertising capabilities, and functionality for adding email capture forms to videos to increase conversions.
In addition to this, the platform can integrate with Google Analytics and there is also a unique video playability index (VPI). The VPI gives your videos a rating out of 1000–the higher the score, the higher the chance of the video being played.
Our suggestion: If you’re looking for a business video host but don’t feel like Wistia is right for you then Vzaar is definitely worth a look. They also offer a bunch of unique features.
Sprout Video is all about growth, as their name and branding suggests. The website is easy for new users to navigate and they currently have a free trial available that gives users access to their extensive list of features for 30 days.
If you want to sign up after your free trial, there are three plans to choose from. All of these are broken down into neat tables with fun names that relate back to the brand:
As you can see, the least expensive plan is $59.99 and offers considerably less features than the more expensive packages. It’s also worth noting that all plans are limited to 500 GB bandwidth, although there is the option to pay extra for more. And with one minute of HD video using almost 30 MB of data, you probably will end up paying for more.
Continuing with the interest in growth, Sprout Video already supports ultra HD videos (up to 8K) and the analytics they track are very impressive. You can see which countries your video is being viewed in, as well as which domains. You can also track individual viewers to see exactly how they have interacted with your videos.
Our suggestion: If you need a business video host that offers up to 8k video playback then Sprout Video could be the solution for you!
Just like YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook, Dailymotion has a customer-facing side, giving more people a chance to find and watch your video(s). Users can search for videos with the search bar at the top of the page, or by scrolling through categories like ‘Featured’ and ‘Topic of the Moment’.
Another similarity between Dailymotion and the other sites mentioned is the fact that it is free. Instead, it relies on monetisation through ads (like YouTube and Facebook), and it encourages users to monetise their videos with pre-roll and in-stream ads.
With over 300 million users from around the world watching an estimated 3.5 billion videos every month, Dailymotion is a huge site–perfect for increasing brand awareness.
Our suggestion: Although YouTube is the undisputed king of online video, Dailymotion is a worthy competitor. If you’re looking for more visibility then you might just get that through Dailymotion.
Whereas Brightcove claims to have the best HTML5 player, JW Player insists on having the fastest, with videos rendering ‘reliably and beautifully on every screen’. On top of that, JW Player customers enjoy an average 45% more plays and a 20% advertising lift when they turn on the site’s intelligent video recommendations.
Plans are reasonably priced, with the ‘Starter’ plan working out at just $5/month (when billed annually). For this, users can upload 50 videos and accrue a generous 15,000 views. Users also gain access to the following core features:
As you can see, users on the ‘Business’ and ‘Enterprise’ plan can access more advanced features, namely real-time analytics. However, engagement analytics are still available for those on the first plan.
Our suggestion: If you’re after a customisable player that you control then JW Player is a great option.
Thanks for reading
Congratulations! You did it. You climbed the mountain. And hopefully now you have a better view of the video hosting site you want to use.
One more thing that’s worth mentioning: you don’t have to stick to one. You can host your video on a variety of different platforms. In fact, the more places, the better! Stick your video on YouTube to appeal to the masses, Facebook to boost your social presence, and then host it on Wistia to gain access to those juicy analytics! The choice (or choices!) is yours.
For more tips and advice on all things video creation and promotion, check out our blog page.