Video hosting services is a fancy name for video-sharing Web sites like YouTube, MetaCafe, Blip.tv and more than 60 others. The basic functions of video-sharing Web sites are nearly the same: They allow you to search for and watch existing videos and upload your own. Beyond that, each service offers special features that separate itself from the pack.
Community is an important dimension on many video-sharing Web sites. On sites like YouTube and MySpace Videos, video clips are posted on the profile page of the individual who uploaded it. Profile pages are the basic building blocks for online social networks. On these profile pages, users link to all of their friends on the network. They post messages to each other and responses to individual video clips. Users form groups and develop strong online identities.
Blip.tv focuses on forging an online identity. The site started primarily as a destination for video bloggers, so it's designed as a forum for individual expression. Users create their own "channels" and "shows" ranging from random blog posts to professionally edited sitcoms. Blip.tv, like YouTube, has a feature where you can upload video clips directly from a cell phone or other mobile device. So if you're inspired to make a video blog post while standing on the subway, you can.
Another feature of many video-sharing sites is the ability to earn money from your videos. This is typically done through targeted advertising that either appears as text ads on your profile page or embedded within the video clip itself. Different sites offer different revenue-sharing deals. Revver, for example, shares ad revenues 50/50 with users who get the most page views. The video-sharing site MetaCafe offers extra money for the most popular clips. Those who earn "producer rewards" get cash for every thousand times a clip is viewed. One user has tallied nearly $40,000 [source: Blogging for Money].
The most important consideration when choosing a video-sharing site is the type of content in which the site specializes. A large, established site like YouTube has a little bit of everything. It also has by far the largest user base, so it's easier for your clip to get lost in the shuffle. Break.com specializes in "America's Funniest Video"-type clips of people doing stupid things and getting hurt. MySpace Videos, also known as MySpace TV, has professionally produced content including full episodes of TV shows and movies. And there are plenty of video-sharing sites that specialize in adult content, both homemade and professional.
All of the video-sharing sites we've discussed so far are totally free, meaning they don't charge anything to upload videos and create profile pages. But there's another option for people who want to use video-sharing sites more as personal portals for sharing longer movie clips with a select audience.
The electronics store Best Buy has launched a video-sharing site geared toward people who want to share home movies with friends and family. Starting around $7 a month, a user can upload clips as long as 30 minutes a piece and store as much as 100 minutes at a time on the site. You can pay more to store more minutes. Once you upload a clip, you invite people to watch it by sending them a link via e-mail. Best Buy markets the site as a private, secure alternative to large video-sharing Web sites.
What if you want to create your own video-sharing site? Or quickly optimize clips for uploading? Or post a video to more than one site at a time? Find out how on the next page.