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A Brief History Of Video Hosting

Hosting your video used to be really difficult. Due to the bandwidth constraints of the day (56k anyone?), you needed to encode your video to a bunch of different sizes, all with heavy compression, and then the viewer would pick what looked like the right connection speed for them and either download or progressively download the video (the video would start playing as soon as enough data had been transferred). Download was at glacial speed and the videos generally looked terrible. And you payed for the bandwidth!

Then came ‘streaming video services’ like Real or Windows Media. You would need a server (or your web host would need one) that would host the Real or Windows Media server software. Then the server would send the video to the viewer based on their connection speed. It was better but still required an annoying, technically complex and sometimes expensive install to your web host environment.

And then YouTube happened and the world became better.

Now you could upload your video to YouTube and they would do all the rest. They’d re-encode the video to be the optimum size for various connection speeds. They’d detect and then stream the video using computers all over the world to ensure great quality. And they’d host the video FOR FREE. Awesome.

Individuals and businesses could now get their videos out on a great playback platform that people were watching in droves. You could embed the videos on your website and let YouTube take care of the backend. For business it was a great way to get your message out.

But then came the ads next to your video. Then before your video. And then corporate video professionals realized that YouTube had some limitations to efficient business use. Like the fact that you can’t replace a video and keep the old link (so you can’t fix a typo). What’s up with that? All my old links are now bad? Any my stats are gone!

For the stats you do get… YouTube stats on your video are pretty basic. And password protecting and sharing your video for review is rather confusing unless people sign in. And how do you manage multiple videos with multiple managers? The more robust video playback and management features useful for business are not part of the YouTube’s ‘video for all’ mantra. YouTube is used by – and built for – consumers. That’s great. YouTube has found their niche and it’s working out for them. And if you are a brand that wants consumers to watch your videos, there is no better platform, especially when it comes to search.

But if you wanted more features for video hosting you were left wanting. That meant the door was wide open for video hosting for business. And luckily there are several; Vimeo, Wistia and Brightcove are all in the business of hosting video for business. But how do you choose one and how do you best manage your videos? That will be the subject of the next article.

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