Opportunities in video streaming

I’ve had a few people email me saying they want to post business-related videos, but they don’t want to use Youtube, so what would I recommend?  And I can’t ever give them a good answer because none of the online video sites are ideal.  I’ve used all the big ones, and each of them has glaring flaws.  It’s very frustrating for someone who uses these sites regularly, but it’s also great for anyone who can swoop in and fix these problems.  So I want to break down what’s wrong with the main video sites first, then suggest what I think needs to be done.

Youtube – Not my favorite, but it’s what I recommend to every business anyways.  The truth is that they’re currently the best option if you’re doing anything commercial.

  • Everyone’s on it. Youtube is not a niche service; it’s for every type of video you can imagine.  But a lot of businesses don’t want their videos to be in the same market as emo teenagers and cats playing keyboards.
  • Ugly interface. This is the complaint I’ve heard most often from businesses.  Both the player and the site itself just don’t look that great.
  • 11-minute time limit on regular accounts. Infuriating if you have an hour long clip, because you’ll have to split it six times.
  • Partnership program. It’s great if you can get in, but your videos will need several thousand views before you have a shot at this.
  • No call-to-action. Remember how I recommended LinkedTube?  That’s a pretty good service (except those videos don’t show up in RSS readers for some reason), but that feature should be built into Youtube to begin with.

Viddler – My favorite option, solely because they allow you to put multiple calls-to-action in their videos.

  • Nothing commercial is allowed. You can fly under the radar promoting your business and its products for awhile, but if Viddler notices you, they’ll make you upgrade or delete your account.  They will warn you before they do this, thankfully.
  • Pricing. Starts at $100/month plus a $150 integration fee and goes up to $1,500/month.  This seems like such a substantial jump from their free service that you’ve already grown accustomed to that it comes across as a bit outlandish.  If you can afford it and really need the extra bandwidth, then go for it.  Viddler’s a good service.
  • Analytics. You can see the view count and number of impressions for your videos, but that’s it.  Why can’t I see the click-thrus on my calls-to-action?  Ahhh!  (Note: A way around this is to shorten your links with http://bit.ly/ first, then post them into your Viddler video.)

Vimeo – I have a love/hate relationship with this site.  They easily have the best interface but they will also ruthlessly ban you without warning.

  • Hyper-strict staff. I found out the hard way that these guys will ban you, permanently deleting all of your videos at once, and not giving you any leeway on getting them back.  If you have a video where you casually mention the name of a service you offer, and the rest of the video isn’t even remotely commercial, they will still ban you.  Of course, you can fly under their radar but if that particular video gets 1,000+ views in a day, you’re toast.
  • Inconsistent upload times. I don’t fault them too much for this, but they have the biggest discrepancies between busy and slow day upload times.  If you upload a 1-minute clip on a Monday night, it might take four hours before you can view it.  And if you upload a 5-minute clip on a Thursday morning, you can probably watch it within the hour.

I’m not going to discuss the flaws in Facebook or SmugMug, because those are not video sites.  SmugMug specializes mostly in pictures (although they do have incredible HD playback), and Facebook does WAY too many other things.  Video isn’t even relevant.

What’s the point?

Vimeo is pretty much the only video site on the web that specifically caters to a well-defined niche.  Although I hate them for banning without warning, I also truly admire them for sticking to their guns.  They are an anti-commercial site for people who are passionate about making high-quality video content.  So where is the niche video site for businesses?  Youtube definitely isn’t one, and neither is Viddler.  If anything, Viddler has branded itself as the go-to video site for bloggers.

There is a ton of opportunity for a commercial business-only video site.  If you combine the best practices from the big three, and eliminate all the flaws, the business video site would absolutely dominate.

Here’s what I think it should include:

  • Beautiful interface. Take a page out of Vimeo’s book and make an amazing player.  Their player is super clean, in 16:9, and plays HD beautifully and easily.  Allow these businesses to seamlessly embed their videos anywhere they want.
  • Allow multiple calls-to-action in videos. Businesses want to make sales.  Let them manipulate the interface so they can make that happen.
  • Robust analytics. If they can’t see the results from their CTA’s, how can they improve on their formula?  Let users test and iterate.  Give them the key information they need to increase click-thrus (just like Google Ads).
  • Heavily encourage HD. You want all the videos on your site to be really high quality, because then you’ll be known as a premium service.  So offer incentives to users for uploading HD videos.  Make the HD player’s interface significantly better than the 4:3 DV player, for instance.
  • No time limits. Size limits are fine, though.
  • No freeloaders / No freemium model. Businesses are willing to spend money for a quality service.  In fact, a lot of big businesses don’t even like the idea of using something for free.  If you don’t believe me, ask some bigger companies if they’d be willing use free, open-source software for their online security systems.  Payment can give a company peace of mind.  So give businesses a 2-week free trial, then switch to a monthly subscription rate.  Don’t allow anyone to indefinitely upload videos for free.
  • Fast uploads. All your customers are paying, so you better deliver a really fast service.

Like I said, there are currently no niche video sites that are focusing on businesses.  A service like this would kill.

6 comments on “Opportunities in video streaming

  1. I think you’re on to something. When deciding on what platform to use for tutorials we’re creating for Sherple.com (a blog design company), we looked at YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo before deciding on getting a premium account at Vimeo because of their community and focus on good design.

    It wasn’t an obvious choice either. I came to identical conclusions about the use and value of each service, and none are tailored to business. There is room and a need for a video hosting service in the biz space. If you don’t create that space in the next 6-12 months, I’d put money on it that someone will.

    And size vs. time is a great pain point. Realistically, it’s size and bandwidth that cost money. Time is fucking arbitrary. As are time limits. That’s one of the main reasons we didn’t go with YouTube. Give me the choice of longer video vs quality (or paying more if I want/need it). But let me make that choice.

    There is one thing that’s missing from the business model, and that’s the ability to quickly, elegantly and easily organize a micro-community.
    That’s one thing I’m hoping to explore with Vimeo’s channel. It’s very social, and low barrier.

    There should also be a focus on building a place where the community of businesses who are all basically trying to do the same thing can share ideas and “network” (I HATE that word but you get the idea), so a focus on support beyond a single forum is worth checking out.

    Ning executes this better than 95% of web based services. They have a developer’s group, an organizer’s group, live status reports at status.ning.com if there’s ever an issue with yor site. They make it easy to get help and ideas by having a blog showcasing and spotlighting cool networks. Yeah, it helps that they make communities, so they’ve got an advantage. But it keeps me paying them every month.

    I love the idea and thanks for sharing.

  2. @Matt- Great thoughts, I’ll respond via email.

    @Alex- Of course my idea has been done. Always a good feeling. Damn you, Tube Mogul!

    Seriously though, there’s still a lot of opportunity in the video space.

  3. “Like I said, there are currently no niche video sites that are focusing on businesses. A service like this would kill.”

    We think you are so right. If you have not heard about vzaar I invite you to come check us. http://vzaar.com

    We are totally designed for business offering a freemium model. All of our users are online merchants of some description barring the odd “skin content” that creaps onto the network. (That we of course delete when we see it or its reported)

    Seriously, we have such a varied range of users selling anything from Holliday villas, to industrial equipment, diamonds, bags, personl training classes. You name it.

    vzaar, vidoe hosting for business.

    http://vzaar.com

  4. Pingback: Videoing your speeches | The Naked Speaker

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