August 13th, 2020 LearnDash

You’re creating a video series for your course. What video hosting platform should you choose?

Video content is an almost-essential feature to online courses. While some course creators get by without it, most find that it’s a popular form of content, and one that enhances their credibility and increases the value of their course.

However, while many course creators are capable of creating video content, they often get hung up when it comes to distributing it online. Fortunately, a video host can help address this issue by providing storage for your videos among other benefits. Let’s stake a deeper dive.

Why do you need to use a video host?

Videos are large files. Much larger than any other file you’re likely to have on your site. So when you upload them to your server, they’re likely to take up huge amounts of space, slow your site down, and cause lots of errors for users.

Using a video hosting platform allows you to upload your content onto their servers, and then embed it into the relevant pages on your site, where it won’t slow down your page load times. Video hosting platforms also provide additional benefits, such as protection for your course videos, video analytics information, and sharing options.

In other words, your video hosting platform spares your site a lot of resources while giving you a powerful toolkit for putting it to use. We could go through a long list of possible options, but to be honest, the field seems pretty saturated with a lot of options and not a lot to tell them apart. So, to keep it simple, we’ve narrowed it down to the top four.

1. YouTube

YouTube isn’t just a video streaming site—it’s also the second largest search engine in the world after Google. YouTube videos are easy to upload, easy to embed, and come with a number of helpful features, such as automatic transcription, making your videos more accessible. Plus, you can optimize your videos with keywords, hashtags, and descriptions to make them more discoverable by users on the site.

YouTube is also excellent for keeping learners engaged with your content. You can set up entire playlists, and it already has mechanisms to encourage learners to subscribe. And, it’s free!

However, as with any free service, there are compromises. While you can embed YouTube videos on your site, those videos aren’t white labeled. This means everyone will see your videos as being hosted on YouTube, and this isn’t always desirable, especially considering the ads and recommended videos that will show up even on your course site.

More importantly, YouTube videos are less secure, meaning there’s a greater risk of someone being able to download those course materials and redistribute them elsewhere. So, while it’s unsurpassed as a marketing tool, it may not be your best option for premium course content.

2. Vimeo Pro

If you’re ready to put some money behind your course videos, then Vimeo Pro is a great option. The video player can be customized so that you can discretely embed it into your site in a way that allows it to blend in to the overall design. The video quality and player controls are also very sleek.

The real advantage of Vimeo Pro, however, are the additional features it offers behind the scenes. You can adjust the controls to limit who can view the video and make it harder for viewers to download it. Advanced subscriptions offer lead generation tools, and their premium service includes live streaming.

It also gives in-depth analytics feedback, including engagement and duration graphs and integration with Google Analytics. While there are specialized use cases that Vimeo Pro isn’t good for, most course creators will have everything they need with this option.

Note: Vimeo also has a free option, you’ll probably max it out pretty fast. The good news is that Pro options start off at a very affordable $7/mo.

3. Wistia

Wistia provides an interesting cross between the above two solutions, being both a more premium service, but one that offers an edge in terms of the marketing tools it offers. For instance, Wistia has interactive features on its videos that allow creators to add calls-to-action or email collection forms right in the video. You can also include annotated links or chapter navigation in the video, and it integrates with Eventbrite if you host a lot of live events.

Wistia includes many of the same analytics features as Vimeo Pro, although it also has a number of marketing integrations that Vimeo either doesn’t have, or isn’t particularly advertising.

The biggest downside is that it is much more expensive than other options. While your first three videos are free (just enough for you to have a taste and experience how it works), the next step up is $99/mo.

4. Brightcove

Finally, let’s talk enterprise. Brightcove is the kind of high-level solution that doesn’t even offer pricing on the website, but some quick searching on Google indicates that after the 30-day free trial has expired, pricing starts at $199 a month.

What you’re getting for that price seems to be pretty impressive, however. Not only are they boasting some very advanced security features, they also offer 24/7 live support. They also offer some very developer-friendly APIs for those who want to create a truly custom experience.

In short, you’re paying premium pricing, but if you have the team and the budget to put its features to use, it’s a platform that will prove its worth.

Choose the video hosting solution that best suits your need.

A final note. You don’t have to choose just one platform! In particular, there are advantages to having one video hosting platform for your premium site content, and another for your sharable social content.

So, you could use Vimeo Pro on your website for longer course-related videos, but turn to YouTube for shorter videos that are designed to attract new learners or be shared more freely on social. This can help you grow an audience without using up the storage capacity on your paid accounts.

The bottom line is that there’s no one-size-fits-all option, so choose the one that best fits your budget and needs.

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12 responses

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I am having a problem login into you site. Keeps telling me email does not exist when i try to get a new password.

I purchased Learndash Inv.# 7301199 installed it in wordpress under….while working on it. Once complete, I transferred the site to the root… but now it tells me i need to update my license and will not work.

Hello Laura

Thanks for the overview.
What about AWS (S3 + CloudFront)? Could it integrate well? In our specific case, we intend to provide audio only courses as well, and it seemed a good solution to host both video and audio.


Avatar Francois Ferric

I just heard that Vimeo requires a “custom” (aka more expensive) plan to host content behind a paywall.

Amy truth to that?

Great article! Another option is to be the developer and create your own video hosting service; its easy with Cloud CDN, it even comes with video and written directions. #GoogleCloudPlatform Which is essentially what these SaaS’s are doing and capitalizing on.

Avatar Jonathan Bailey

Hey, Thanks for publishing such a piece of wonderful information about video hosting

Thanks! Glad you found it useful!

Avatar Laura Lynch

A very useful and amazing article on Video hosting. Some of them are very new to me and this helps me a lot. Thanks for publishing this.

Hi, Thanks for this beautiful information about the video hosting platform to choose for an online course.

I have a question, is LeanDash WordPress plugin provide Video Hosting or not?

Hi Satish,
No, we so not provide video hosting, but we do cover some very good solutions in this article.

Avatar Laura Lynch

I’d consider purchasing this plugin if Streamable video was compatible with course progression.

Avatar Brandon

Thank you for simplifying the options. You provided enough valuable information to make a decision. Super helpful, Laura!

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