Monday, December 1, 2008

Brightcove and Vimeo: Are these free solutions viable alternatives for small enterprise website video delivery?

The answer to this question is simple: Not even close. Turns out (big surprise) there is not enough ad revenue to support free video for every company that wants to compete with YouTube.


If you’ve Brightcove video on your website, it will stop playing on December 17.

Brightcove announced this summer that on December 17, 2008, they will cancel all free accounts. The replacement offered is a basic subscription at a cost of $6,000 annually. While I am not prepared to call this a bait and switch maneuver, there are some who are calling it just that. And I’m fairly certain very few Brightcove subscribers are willing to pay the $6,000 annual fee.


According to Vimeo’s Commercial Guidelines, “Businesses may not use Vimeo to promote their business in any way. Businesses may not use Vimeo to host their videos if they have advertising on their site.” Vimeo clearly states that they are a social network to be used specifically for sharing video among family and friends and “video is for personal use only”.

It is my view that any business with embedded Vimeo content on their website risks the possibility that at any time those videos will stop playing. That’s playing with fire, particulary when there are profitable, viable companies like iPlayerHD, with its $30 a month solution, that likely meet the needs of most small enterprises on the web.

I’ll go even further. Vimeo, like many online video providers, has but one source of revenue with which it pays its bills – advertising. If the advertising dollars are not there, what choice will Vimeo have but to kick out the non-conformers that until now they may have ignored. Or perhaps they create a paid subscription at a price point similar to Brightcove’s making it an impossible choice. In any case, Vimeo users need to be aware that changes are coming and they are coming fast.


Both Brightcove and Vimeo have investors – venture capitalists who have a high tolerance for risk but a low tolerance for failure. Investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in companies like Brightcove, Vimeo and others. Most are not even close to making money and are quickly burning through capital. The investors in these companies, just like the investors at Brightcove, are going to demand a change in strategy that leads to profitability. That means less “free” and more “paid” relationships.

There’s an old saying that a business that loses money is not a business. It’s a hobby. Seems to me there are more hobbies in online video than there are businesses.

Want an exceptional video experience for your website? Watch the videos at iPlayerHD and then decide if iPlayer is your solution.

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