The Battle of Online Video, YouTube vs. Vimeo
When you feel like binge watching cat home videos, you go to YouTube but when your video palette craves genius, you log on to Vimeo. On the surface it would seem that the difference between YouTube and Vimeo is quality, but dig deeper and you realize that it’s much more than that. Here’s looking at two of the biggest websites for video consumption, YouTube.com and vimeo.com and giving you a “what’s hot and what’s not” in-depth look.
Think video, most often YouTube comes into your mind. This site, which was bought by Google for 1.65 billion dollars, now has more than one billion, three hundred million users. In an average, there are 300 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute and five billion videos are watched everyday. This Google subsidiary has consistently topped the list of the most watched online video site as the most used video-sharing platform.
Interestingly, as impressive as these stats may seem, they don’t make YouTube the best platform for videos. Recently another online video site, Vimeo passed its 170 millionth unique visitor. It’s not in billions, but Vimeo has, with its significantly smaller scale, made it on the map against all odds. Where YouTube fails, a site like Vimeo picks up the slack. Quality is a key ingredient, which appeals to users. While, YouTube sees more than a billion unique users each month, monetarily, Vimeo has about 400,000 paying subscribers and took in about $40 million in revenue over the past year.
With their stark differences, YouTube and Vimeo are two of the biggest online platforms for hosting online video. YouTube focuses on a more broad consumption, catering to the most video, TV and personal video experiences, whereas Vimeo’s focus is more on artistic-centered experience.
Both these sites, have 70-80% of their audience outside of US, their home country. Both sites give access to unregistered users on the web but need registration to upload content and access through the mobile base video-viewing platform.
It would surprise many to know that Vimeo was founded three months before YouTube was active online. Vimeo is a community for Indie filmmakers and their fans, which gives this site an upper hand. That said, given Vimeo’s niche status, the site doesn’t stand a chance against the third most watched site in the world because YouTube has mass appeal. Where Vimeo’s vision was for filmmakers to share their creative work and personal moments from their lives, YouTube was invented as a destination to watch and share original videos worldwide through the Web. On the surface, the point of uploading your video is to catch eyeballs but choosing between YouTube and Vimeo will always depend on your business goals.
Content & Censorship: Given that YouTube brings in mass appeal with millions of views everyday, choosing this site would be an obvious choice. The audience range is high and its popularity is soaring due to hosting personal content like personal videos, corporate videos, advertorials, music videos, documentaries, interview, video blogging, educational videos, movie trailers and sometimes even full length movies. But this also works against YouTube because with so much information passing through the site, content tends to get lost. Vimeo with its limited flow caters solely to artists and filmmakers. You may never find a home video of a cat on Vimeo, and if you do, it would be the most creative and artistic cat video. On the other hand, because of the niche label, the traffic for Vimeo is far less, and a user has to do more legwork to share their videos in order to get more eyeballs for their video.
Given that Google favours its own platform, Vimeo videos do not show up in Google searches and rank much lower than YouTube videos. And though both sites have options to limit viewing access, Vimeo has a wider range of privacy settings and a password protect for each video.
The vast majority of YouTube videos are free to view; YouTube does have several advertisement partnerships with television big guns like NBC, MGM, CBS and Hallmark, which subscribers can pay a rental to view. But the site is very strict about their content policy and tends to flag and remove explicit content and censorship is higher on YouTube and for non-censorship it’s very strict about questionable content. YouTube has an alternative subscription-based premium channel to cater to the audience wanting explicit pornographic content at YouTube Red. Vimeo, unlike YouTube, is liberal about their viewable content. Vimeo has a teaching platform Video school which teaches DIYs on filmmaking, story telling, business of filmmakers or the ins and outs of film contracts as well as Vimeo Awards which are given out. This content is free for non-paying members of Vimeo.
Community: Where YouTube instantly takes action to remove explicit content uploaded, it does nothing about the profane comments posted in their site. Comments can be racial, provocative and often discriminatory. Many times the video posted provokes a string of off-topic discussion and the video begins to get ignored and chat becomes more important. YouTube’s popularity brings in an abundance of Internet trolls and spammers.
Vimeo does not have this problem, because the users and the audience are a niche community of film enthusiasts and are both creative and respectful. Vimeo is often preferred as a platform to profile work, so profane comments would only spoil your credibility as a fellow filmmaker. Furthermore, Vimeo’s community engagement is a more personal space that enables long-term friendships of people who pursue the same passions. A User may receive constructive criticism in the comments section.
Quality: YouTube is known for compressing formats while upload. Whether you’ve shot your video on your mobile phone or on a high end 4K camera, YouTube’s playback is always a compressed version of your original footage. This is where Vimeo has an upper hand. Vimeo has always had High definition playback. The upload looks as good as it was originally shot. This makes Vimeo the first choice for video makers who want their high production quality accessible online.
Another game changer advantage that Vimeo has is that you can replace your video while keeping all of your stats. If your video needs a correction and you have already uploaded it, you can re-upload it without changing the link, deleting comments or resetting the statistics, which the video has received already. No video streaming site has this feature, not even YouTube.
Space/Storage length of videos: One of the biggest advantages YouTube has is that it’s free, even for businesses. YouTube is free to use, even for business. And accounts have unlimited storage capacity, which means you can upload as many hours of footage as and when you want. All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes each. Those with a verified account and a good track record of their membership would be offered an extension to upload 12-hour videos. And the size of each video can be more than 20GB.
Space and Storage is a feature in YouTube’s cap, because Vimeo has a basic membership, which is free, which has a limit of 500MB disk space, weekly. And unlike YouTube, commercial videos are not allowed on the free account. But paid packages like Vimeo Plus and Vimeo Pro allow businesses and filmmakers to have more upload and store time. For a limited audience, it is quite the burn in the wallet, for limited upload and storage.
Earning/Commercialization/Embedding: YouTube is an easy platform to turn your videos into effective ads. Its ever-growing audience makes this platform the most cost efficient way to advertise or have a campaign. YouTube helps you count statistics especially through views and comments, and its accessibility to partner with them adds to your wallet through revenue sharing and ads.
Once YouTube made it mandatory to watch at least 30 second adverts before each video, YouTube’s commercial value skyrocketed because till then, no online video content was infiltrated with marketing and advertisements. Now this works perfectly for those paying to get these ads on board, but the user has no control over which ad their content will have. Say you own a soap factory and put up a video advertising your soaps, YouTube has the final right to choose if they want to put a rival soap company ad before on your video. This defeats the whole purpose of putting up your video and negates your strategy, thus weakening your connect with the audience. In the ocean of videos and advertisements on YouTube, your video will most often get lost.
Vimeo has a cleaner look where the videos are larger than the brouhaha that YouTube has. There are no advertisements, no banners and no 30-second commercials before your video starts, so the viewer’s complete attention is on your video, with no distractions to make them click away.
YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends for them to be viewed through its website interface. It has aspects of customization on the channel but is restricted to font layout and playlist changes. YouTube also assigns a fixed link through their platform for views. Vimeo gives its user more control over the link and embedding. Not only can you change the URL of your video, but you can remove the Vimeo logo and add your own so when you embed the video into your website it looks like the video is streaming from your site. Even your Vimeo account can have a customized URL for your letterhead and business card.
With YouTube, there’s more potential especially with its free services and accessible audience, but the advertisements are jarring and your content most often gets lost in the abyss. With Vimeo, even if a handful of people watch your films, this site comes with higher artistic quality, which has a better appeal for filmmakers and people coming from a specific skill set thus making it a way more cooler platform to watch videos on. Who’s the winner? It all depends on what you want your videos to do, but as we have seen in trends, eventually quality always wins over quantity.
|Mass Appeal||Niche Market|
|Free with Earning Potential even for business||Limited Free Account Paid Business Account Advantages|
|Commercials||No Commercials No Earning|
|Hostile Engagements and Environment||Mutual Respecting Community|
|No Support||Excellent Support|
|Rigid Customization and Embedding||Customizable player and embed options|
|Interchangeable Formats (Low to High)||High definition playback|
|1 billion users||35 million registered users|
|7 billion views per day||1 million views per day|
|Casual video bloggers||Creative filmmakers for work|
|80% are outside US||70% are outside US|
|Unlimited upload and store||Limited upload and store|
|Global Rank 2||Global Rank 115|