Video hosting company Brightcove has pulled the plug on its free service. Users who don’t want to cough up for paid video hosting have until 17 December before their videos disappear.
I believe this is just the beginning. In the current economic climate, many free services will close. When even YouTube is struggling to make any money from user generated video content and others seem to be living on venture capital cash, no free video hosting service can be considered safe.
Whatever they may say, the main interest for all Internet start-up companies is in building up a business that they can sell on for millions. Not in providing a service that will ensure your content is around forever.
For a long time I’ve said that if you are interested in building a longterm sustainable presence on the web, there is no future in trying to do it with free services that exist away from your domain name.
Imagine the consequences when your free video host disappears. If you’re lucky, and organised, you’ll have copies of all your films, the text description and tags at hand, ready to upload elsewhere. I understand that some Brightcove users had several hundred videos with the free service.
If you have that many, after a couple of days work uploading everything to a new host, you can then begin the huge job of updating all the embed codes across your own blogs, websites and social networking profiles.
Unfortunately, any site that has embedded your videos or linked to to them on the old host will end up with a dead link, or possibly a redirect to a nice ad for the hosting service. Sites that embedded may leave up the pages with your description, tags and their own ads. In which case the defunct pages will stay in the Google results and, annoyingly, may appear above any new pages that you create for your videos.
The reality is, most people are not that well organised and don’t keep proper back-ups. Their content will disappear for good in the blitz that is about to happen.
If your needs are reasonably modest, and you have the technical knowledge, you are far better off paying a few pounds/dollars each month and hosting your content yourself. That way you know that, come what may, your videos will be around and at the same address for years to come.
CALCULATING WHAT YOU NEED
Contrary to what many people think, you don’t need a special web hosting service for video. Even the most basic hosting account can serve video in the same way that YouTube does.
How much web space do you need? Maybe 5Mb for each minute of video. So an account that offers 4Gb of storage space can hold 800 minutes of video.
The other consideration is bandwidth transfer. This is the data that is downloaded by visitors to your site. An account that includes 60Gb of transfer each month means that visitors can download 12,000 minutes of video. In other words, a 5 minute video can be watched in full by 2,400 people.
This isn’t a viable solution if you happen to get a viral hit that gets millions of views. Those are few and far between. But if it happens, just pop that video onto YouTube and link to or embed it.
Wouldn’t it cost a lot to have your own webhosting? No, it really is amazing what you get for your money.
Update (7 July 2010): I can recommend Certified Hosting who have hosted many of my websites for several years now.