Content might be royalty, but video has undoubtedly taken the crown. Video has become the most pervasive content in consumers’ lives. From one-on-one meetings to remote conferences to viral TikTok clips to the evening news—it’s all video, all the time.
The rise of video has forced every business to adapt to become a video company, and these companies need an online video platform (OVP) they trust to meet growing demands. And when it comes to video content, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you’d imagine at first glance.
You have to consider a developing list of factors:
- Do you want to livestream content or provide video on demand (VOD)?
- Will you provide videos for marketing purposes or entertainment?
- How will you monetize your video content? Will you require a paid subscription, or do you want to run advertisements?
- Where will customers play your videos: on a video platform, website, mobile app, or over-the-top (OTT) application?
- How will you ensure high-quality streaming for customers across devices, geographic locations, and varying bandwidths?
There’s a lot to consider, but you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We’ve done the hard work finding the best online video platforms for 2023 in this review piece—and below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to consider before choosing the right one.
What Is an Online Video Platform (OVP)?
An online video platform lets you upload live and recorded video content to a repository—you can then embed these videos in a library, website, mobile application, or even a smart TV app. Your online video platform does the hosting and streaming across its network of data centers and servers, meaning you don’t have to build that infrastructure on your own.
OVPs provide out-of-the-box features to help you build an all-in-one video solution. Most will let you livestream and host video-on-demand content, and some come with built-in monetization options and data rights management (DRM) protection.
OVPs also do the difficult job of encoding and transcoding your video uploads to a variety of formats. This transcoding process ensures customers can watch your content regardless of device, browser, or bandwidth limitations.
How to Choose the Right Online Video Platform
You’ll find dozens of online video platforms on the market, but not every solution is the right fit for your business.
Some prioritize business-to-business (B2B) marketing and sales content, while others focus on education or entertainment. And some provide all the built-in functionality you need, while others require you to integrate with other software to accomplish your video needs.
Below, we’ve outlined the core criteria you should consider before investing in an online video platform:
1. Use Case and Purpose
What types of video content do you plan on hosting? Who’s your audience? Do you want to use video for brand awareness, sales, lead generation, entertainment, sports, or education?
Answers to these questions will quickly narrow down your online video platform options. Most platforms are purpose-built for specific industries and use cases, providing out-of-the-box features and functionality tailor-made for your business.
2. Quantity of Videos
How many videos do you plan on hosting? How long will these videos be? Some platforms are built to host videos at scale, while others are intended for smaller purposes.
If you plan on hosting hundreds or thousands of videos and streaming them to a global audience, you need an OVP that’s up to the task. You’ll also want to think about the encoding and transcoding options available. Will your provider automatically transcode your videos into the playback formats you need, and how long does the uploading process take on your end?
Advanced online video platforms integrate with dozens of other applications to seamlessly connect your stack. Consider the tools you’d like to connect to your OVP:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Content management system (CMS)
- Human resources (HR) software
- Analytics tools
Next, consider where you want customers to access your videos. Do you want to build video content into your company’s website or mobile application, or do you plan on providing an OTT app on smart TVs?
Find an online video platform that gives you options for integrating your tech stack. Plugins are nice, but you ideally want powerful APIs and SDKs to quickly and easily build video functionality wherever you need it.
4. Live Streaming Capabilities
Many modern-day solutions are starting to provide live-streaming functionality, but live-streaming features still vary widely. Here are a few things to consider:
- Can your online video platform provide 24/7 live options (for broadcasting or event-based streaming)?
- Will your solution automatically convert live-streamed videos into on-demand content? How long does the process take?
- Can your viewers join live, start over, pause, and rewind live videos?
- Will viewers have a seamless experience, or will they have to deal with buffering and poor frame rates?
- Can you monetize your live videos?
5. Content Delivery Network
You need a content delivery network (CDN) you can trust to stream videos to your audience. A single CDN solution will be your cheapest option, but these are susceptible to outages, downtime, and performance issues.
Ideally, find an online video platform with a multi-CDN approach. A multi-CDN combines several CDNs under an extensive global network, and this expands your geographic availability, accelerates transfer speeds, balances loads, and provides backups in case a CDN network goes down.
For example, JW Player’s multi-CDN solution provides network points of presence (POPs) in 130+ countries, ensuring reliable performance with 99.99% global delivery uptime.
Do you want a full white-labeled video streaming product, or are you satisfied with another platform’s branding? Some players will let you customize everything from the player buttons to the colors and logos, while others simply provide a minimal-designed HTML5 player.
Customization plays a bigger role when you plan on adding video to your mobile applications and website. Having an off-brand video player can sometimes kill the design of a page and lead to a second-rate customer experience.
7. Monetization Options
If you plan on monetizing your video content, consider the methodology you’d like to use. Do you want to monetize your live-streamed video, or do you just plan to make money from your on-demand content?
Here are a few VOD monetization models to consider:
- Advertising Video on Demand: Let viewers watch your content for free in exchange for watching advertisements before and during the video.
- Subscription Video on Demand: Require users to pay a flat monthly fee to get access to your library of video content.
- Transactional Video on Demand: Empower users to buy or rent video content on a pay-per-view basis.
Find an online video platform that lets you monetize video how you’d like, whether that’s on a website, mobile app, or OTT platform.
Analytics gives you the insights you need to make important business decisions. Monitor your content to learn what’s performing the best (and the worst), when viewers tune in, and where viewers tend to drop out to inform your future production strategy.
Find a solution that provides real-time metrics so that you can be in the know when it matters. For example, when a video goes viral, you don’t have time to wait for your statistics to update 24 hours later—you need immediate insights so that you can capitalize on the opportunity.
9. Security Features
Every time someone illegally accesses or distributes your content, you lose money. If video content is your business’s lifeblood, you can’t afford for it to be compromised. You need an online video platform that protects your content during uploading, storage, and streaming.
Choose an online video platform with robust data rights management. You should be able to protect your content during livestreams and on-demand viewing—offline or online. Your solution should provide 24/7 monitoring to safeguard your content and ensure high-quality streaming.
Pricing will always need to be a top consideration. You can find plenty of enterprise-quality online video platforms on the market, but they all demand enterprise-level budgets. You need an affordable solution with pricing tailored to your business’s size and needs.
An online video platform is less of an expense and more of an investment. The right solution will help you make (and keep) more revenue from every view, so it’s worth finding the right provider rather than pinching pennies and looking for the cheapest solution.
Choose an All-in-One Online Video Platform
Trust JW Player to satisfy all of your video content needs. We provide a complete video solution with all the out-of-the-box functionality you need to deliver top-notch video experience at scale.
Live streaming? Check. Monetization features? Check. Robust APIs and SDKs? Check.
You focus on building your business and growing your income—leave the video details to us. Sign up for our 30-day free trial to see how JW Player can transform video content for your business.