Web Video Hosting Is Dying (Slowly)

Late last fall, I wrote about Facebook's technical lock-out of embedded videos (https://www.vid.one/blog/facebook-locks-out-video).  In earlier drafts of that post, I speculated that we would see a video-hosting company offer Facebook-native upload as a response.

Yeah, that didn't take long.

Today (3/1/18), Vimeo announced this:

"That's why, if you upgrade your membership, you can now publish videos natively to Facebook and YouTube, right from Vimeo."

In English - put your videos on Vimeo, and Vimeo will put them on Facebook & YouTube for you.

It's a sensible move, and one I expect Wistia, Vidyard and others to follow. It's unavoidable; they can't remain the hub for their customer's video content and leave the massive audiences of Facebook & YouTube out. But it changes their business.

The technical premise of video hosting was video management and delivery on the Internet; the Web, mainly, but in apps and other platforms as well. It's the same basic premise that YouTube aimed at @11 years ago.

But where YouTube - thanks in no small part to the backing of YouTube's owner, Google - achieved breakout consumer success for a decade, the smaller hosting companies grew mainly as services for 'prosumers' (Vimeo's filmmakers), business and marketing.  They could add value, though, because they provided end-to-end service; the video you watch on my website thanks to Wistia, is logged & managed by Wistia.

Now the platforms with a critical mass of viewers (Facebook, Google/YouTube - we'll see about Amazon) are calling the shots.  It's not enough for Vimeo to offer a fantastic video management / video viewing experience on open Web sites. Too many people spend too much time on those platforms; Vimeo's customers can't skip them just for technical loyalty to open standards.

This move by Vimeo really puts Vimeo in a different business.  Yes, they can push the video file to YouTube and Facebook - it's actually not particularly difficult.  They're no longer in control of the end-to-end delivery, though.  Will Facebook or YouTube push full stats back into Vimeo?  Haven't looked, but I'd be surprised. Who controls the embed codes?  YouTube and Facebook.  Who can push ads or control placement?  YouTube and Facebook.  And so on; as I said, they're moving into a different business.

I'm not interesting in being the last guy clutching my Betamax; markets and standards move on, and winners take scale.  It's not all bad, it's not all good, it just happens. I get that.  But it's worth noting that such a thing has happened.