You’ve decided to open up a video membership site, but don’t know where to host them? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Handles all the necessary encoding and conversion in the background to ensure proper playback in different browsers and devices.
  • Deters embedding on unauthorized domains so the content you create for your membership site stays on your membership site.
  • Offers predictable and affordable pricing so you’re not hit with a gigantic surprise bill at the end of the month, which is always a possibility when using S3.
  • Won’t kill the server that your website is hosted on, which is pretty much guaranteed if you host videos there.

Vimeo Pro: the obvious choice

Vimeo Pro does all of the above.

Once you upload a video, automated processes handle all the necessary encoding and conversion. You can make the video private and provide a list of domains the video is allowed to be embedded on (i.e. just yours), priced at $199/year, and hosted off-site so your website won’t slow down trying to serve your website and streaming video.

This is not to be confused with Vimeo Plus, which does not allow “business” videos to be uploaded.

I do want to note that is not impossible to download videos hosted on Vimeo directly, no matter how you finagle your privacy settings.

I’m not going to go into detail as to how, but let’s just a resourceful Googler could probably figure it out pretty quickly.

With that said, this is not a reason to not consider hosting your videos on Vimeo because this is the case for any “secure” video hosting. As long as there is a way to watch the video, there will be a way to record it and save it for later.

Wistia: great choice if budget is of no concern

Wistia does everything that Vimeo Pro can do, and more.

Namely, analytics, which offers unrivaled insights on your audience through features like video heatmaps and engagement graphs.

Here’s their blurb on video heatmaps:

Wistia’s heatmaps show you exactly which parts of your video each individual viewer has watched, re-watched, and skipped over. This data tells you if your videos are resonating with your target audience in the right way, and allows you to bring those learnings into your production process.

However, these additional features come at a significantly higher cost than Vimeo Pro.

Assuming you want to be able to host greater than three videos (which Wistia allows on their free tier), Wistia will run you at least $99 per month.

Contrast that with Vimeo Pro, which is only $199 per year. That means two months of Wistia is worth a year of Vimeo Pro.

At this price point, I believe Wistia is better suited for marketing-oriented videos, not all the videos you’d want to put behind a paywall, but it’s still worth mentioning because Wistia is known to be a very high-quality service and the analytics features may be of interest to you.

YouTube unlisted: The “poor man’s” Vimeo Pro

If you’re on a budget, you could probably get away with hosting your videos on YouTube unlisted.

  • Unlike private Vimeo videos, unlisted YouTube videos can be accessed by anyone with the URL, which can be leaked by a rogue member quite easily.
  • Like Vimeo Pro, it is possible to restrict embeds to certain domains, but who cares if you can still watch on YouTube?
  • Unlike the free Vimeo tier, YouTube does not care whether you upload “business” videos.
  • Like Vimeo, YouTube is a reliable off-site video host that will not kill your server.

Despite its shortcomings when it comes to “protection” this may be a good way to test the waters without making an upfront investment in one of the paid video hosting options.

Posted by Leland Fiegel

A web developer with over a decade of experience. Leland is a big advocate of "owning your platform" and encourages it by writing about it at Own Your Platform. He also runs a WordPress theme shop called Themetry and a community forum for WordPress users called WP Chat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *