An Overview of Online Video Services

I’ve been experimenting with video more, as you can see by my Connected World TV episodes. I am learning on the fly and there is a lot to learn, so again I thank you for your patience. Part of the learning curve is determining how to distribute video on the Internet . There are a vast array of services that you can post your video to, all with their own particular advantages and disadvantages. Here I offer you an overview of some of the more popular sites.

YouTube is the granddaddy of them all and is an important platform to be on because that’s where the numbers are. YouTube has far and away the largest numbers of viewers. I don’t think you an afford to avoid YouTube under any circumstances. YouTube is also compatible with both Apple TV and the iPhone so there is another large and growing channel.  The video quality is decent, maybe not quite as good as other services, but the HD video looks on par to me. YouTube also makes it super easy to post videos to your blog and has a customizable player.

Viddler is another good site with some unique features. Video quality on Viddler is very good and the real draw is the built in ability to overlay your own logo onto the video. This custom branding of videos is very desirable for any brand.

Blip.tv has very good video as well and it’s unique feature is that it can convert video into multiple formats at one time. Upon uploading of a video it will crate a Flash video and, if you choose, an iPod compatible version. Blip also has some mild personal branding of their player but nothing as good as Viddler. Blip has very good sharing, allowing you to post your videos to your blog and even to Facebook.

Vimeo is a popular site with some because it’s video quality may be the best of all. I have not used Vimeo much at all and it appears to be somewhat limited in it’s capability other than excellent video.

An important thing to remember are the upload restrictions when dealing with these general purpose video sites. YouTube is pretty generous but has as limit of 10min. Viddler and Blip have decent limits and Vimeo has the most restrictive. HD uploading is sometimes different than non-HD video. Many of these sites will allow you to upgrade your limits with a premium paid account. Check each site for details.

Ustream is a good platform if you are going to be doing live broadcasting. Ustream is strictly a live platform. You don’t upload pre-recorded videos although any live videos you to shoot are saved to the service for viewing later. Among the live broadcast services, Ustream has the largest audience and a good set of tools, including an interactive chat room along side your video. Ustream doesn’t have a strong mobile client yet but for shooting with a built in webcam, it works well.

Qik is a specialized service for cell phones and is an amazing live mobile video service. It works really well from a jailbroken iPhone and you can even view Qik videos from a special iPhone web page. There are also Qik clients for many other cell phones including most modern Nokia phones. I use Qik for all my live mobile video.

Seesmic is a special case. Seesmic is really for video “conversation”. Videos on Seesmic are usually recorded by webcam and are very short. You might think of Seesmic as the Twitter of video. People watch videos and often start conversations with videos going back and forth, all in a public stream. The problem with Seesmic is it’s a walled garden. Inside Seesmic, you can meet good people and have interesting conversations, but video from Seesmic rarely gets outside of Seesmic. It’s a very limited audience. The other big problem with Seesmic is it can take a great deal of time to view all the videos in a conversation. A 5 video thread with each participant talking for 2 min would take 10 min of time to view. And that’s just one conversation. I don’t use Seesmic anymore as I don’t have time to view and respond to all the videos. Conversation on Twitter is faster and more efficient. Seesmic is an interesting idea, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

That is a somewhat technical overview but, of course, the other shoe to drop is what do you actually do with these services? How does this help my business? Stay tuned, the answers are forthcoming.