Video Hosting Sites: Give Your Videos an Online Home

Man watching online video hosting sites on tablet

Like digital warehouses, video hosting sites can easily store, track, and upload your video content to multiple platforms for you. If you are trying to host a lot of video for your website, your server likely doesn’t have the storage capacity or bandwidth to host videos without diminishing your site performance and streaming quality. 

In addition to the storage issue, you need to ship your videos around the world. Video hosting websites have the network and technology to distribute your videos faster, to more places, and for less than you would be able to yourself — like a warehouse with a shipping department. Why bog down your own servers or risk getting booted from your web host when you can upload your videos to a third party, embed the videos on your website and wherever else you want them to play, then relax and let the hosting site do the heavy lifting?

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What is a video hosting site?

A video hosting site is an online platform that allows you to upload video content, which can be accessed by viewers who navigate to specific web pages. A video hosting service can accommodate two main types of videos:

  • Pre-Recorded Videos. Just as the name suggests, pre-recorded videos get produced in advance and then uploaded to a video hosting service. Examples include unboxing videos, full-length movies, product demos, tutorials, or anything else you might turn into a video.
  • Live streams. In a live-stream video, a hosting site broadcasts your video content in real-time, as you are filming. This type of video covers live news broadcasts, teleconferences, and webinars.

Why do you need video hosting?

You may be doubting the point of video hosting services. Why not just host videos on your website and cut out the middle man? Allow us to explain.

  • Video hosting sites let you keep all of your online video content in one place. When used properly, a video hosting website can be a vault for all the video content you upload to the web. Your audition reel, your wedding videos, your cooking demonstration — they can all be in one place.
  • It takes a lot of bandwidth to host video. Video hosting puts a big strain on web servers—so much so that a heavily streamed video can crash some websites. The top video hosting platforms handle this web traffic for you, so when your cooking video, your website won’t crash from all the video streams.
  • You can embed videos from a video hosting platform right into your website. Your viewers don’t actually need to head to a separate video hosting platform to view all your great content. Using some simple HTML5 code (which the hosting site will provide), you can embed video files onto any page of your website. You get the best of both worlds: video on your website and users staying right where you want them.

10 top video hosting sites

The best video hosting sites have plenty of bandwidth, the ability to handle large file sizes, and easy options to share your videos with the world. When you’re ready to host video online, consider some of these options.

1. YouTube. YouTube is the largest video hosting service in the world. It also has some of the most robust features, including search engine optimization, ample video analytics, and a quick video uploader for mobile. Its video player interface is also quite familiar to users. On the downside, it carries no particular prestige. Everyone can post videos on YouTube, and seemingly everyone does, so to make your content stick out there, you have to invest a lot of effort. YouTube may also subject your viewers to ads, or show them irrelevant content when the video ends. This makes it less ideal for corporate brands who need precise image management.

2. Vimeo. Compared to YouTube, Vimeo offers its viewing audience a more curated experience. While far fewer viewers use Vimeo for entertainment, they often associate it with higher-quality content than what YouTube may offer. Many film editors use Vimeo to internally share content before it gets broadcast to the world. Vimeo offers a free tier, but its advanced functions and file storage options get unlocked with paid plans.

3. HubSpot. The HubSpot platform targets business customers who use videos for marketing, sales, and lead capture. The service integrates different sectors—including HubSpot CRM, Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, and Service Hub—into a unified interface that makes it easy to disseminate videos wherever they need to go, including your website, social media, and one-to-one video posts. Don’t think of HubSpot as a YouTube alternative. For one thing, it isn’t free, and for another, it’s all about business communication.

4. Brightcove. Many corporations use Brightcove, including some major brands like McDonald’s, MasterClass, and Dunkin’ Donuts, who use it to power a streaming service, to host the video ads on their site, or to disseminate internal video content (like trainings or conferences). Brightcove does not offer a free subscription as it is top-of-the-line video hosting geared toward businesses and enterprise customers. the upcoming launch of their Video Cloud Studio is promising to make their services more affordable in the future.

5. Wistia. The Wistia platform is great for marketing and lead capture. It provides its clients with ample visitor tracking metrics and heatmaps. It never populates your videos with ads, which makes them look clean and focused. Wistia’s interface is quite sleek and simple, but under the hood lie many advanced functions. Wistia is a “freemium” service. Its free tier features basic functions but paid plans significantly enhance what Wistia can do.

6. SproutVideo. In some ways, you can think of SproutVideo as a middle-ground between YouTube and Wistia. Like YouTube, SproutVideo makes it easy to create video playlists that work well for online series and tutorials. Like Wistia, SproutVideo has ample tools for targeted marketing and lead capture. It also spares your users from ads and irrelevant videos selected by an algorithm — heading off common complaints about YouTube. 

7. Cincopa. If your goal is to monetize your video content, audio content, or still images (rather than use them as marketing tools), Cincopa may be the platform for you. Much like YouTube, Cincopa seeks to hold a user’s attention and feed them multiple content offerings during a visit to the site. All subscription tiers require monthly fees, but Cincopa tends to be more affordable than many competitors. Consider Cincopa if your online offerings include audio (like music and podcasts) in addition to video.

8. Hippo Video. The idea behind Hippo Video is to let a user separate their video offerings into one of the following categories: sales, services, marketing, and internal communications. Each branch offers specialized mechanisms such as in-video forms for marketing, a built-in teleprompter for recording pitches for sales, or video tickets for services. Its paid plans can be tailored to focus on one or more of these specific needs. It also allows your clients to submit video tickets as a way of communicating with your company, which can be appreciated by those who are more comfortable communicating by voice and video instead of written text. While Hippo Video’s lower-priced plans do not offer much video storage, its higher-priced tiers are more on the level of HubSpot, to which it is sometimes compared.

9. Dailymotion. Of all the video hosting platforms on this list, Dailymotion distinguishes itself as the clearest one-for-one competitor with YouTube. It gets less traffic (in the order of billions), but it arguably does a better job than YouTube of creating clear categories (Music, News, Sports, Entertainment) that give video viewers the content they want. It’s also free.

10. Vidyard. If you have a team of collaborators and need unlimited video hosting with no limits on bandwidth, Vidyard may be your solution. You can use Vidyard for both external audiences (marketing, sales, entertainment) and internal audiences (training, presentations, group editing). This makes it a bit like Vimeo, but with more of a corporate bent. The plans offer unlimited storage, massive bandwidth, a clean interface, and a professional sheen.

Is it better to host your own videos or use a video hosting site?

The vast majority of businesses will spare themselves countless headaches by using a video hosting site for their content. Even if you have a dedicated server or a virtual machine, you can easily crash your server with a well-trafficked video. The top video hosting platforms, on the other hand, can handle server traffic with ease because that’s their core business.

Yes, you have to pay monthly fees for a best-in-class video hosting service. But those fees spare you the expense of personnel, server maintenance, and all-around headaches that you’d be taking on by hosting all of your video content in-house. So hand off video hosting duties to a video hosting site, and use your extra time to focus on what your company does best.

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