YouTube vs Vimeo vs Wistia

  • April 28, 2016
  • News

You’ve worked hard filming your video, you’ve put in the blood, sweat and tears in the edit and now it’s time to unleash it on the world. But which site will have the honour of hosting your masterpiece? YouTube? Vimeo? Wistia? Which one is best for you?

Before you begin the daunting choice, it is important to establish your objectives and what you need your hosting service to deliver. Vimeo, Wistia and Youtube are all aimed at different segments of the market, and you have to determine which one is right for you.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons for each service.


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YouTube is the biggest, and most well known video hosting service on the internet. It has become the default place to upload videos. It has a substantial viewer base consisting of subscribers to particular channels and casual viewers, and it’s possible to develop a following if you deliver original content regularly. The huge reach of YouTube means that you can find an audience for even the most niche subjects. YouTube allows you to build an audience through their subscribe feature, making sure that anyone who likes your videos will be notified when you release new material, giving you a solid viewer base to expand from. YouTube is becoming a resource for How-To videos and tutorials, so if your videos fit this description, YouTube is a great place to start.


YouTube can also be used to direct traffic to your site, with links in the description to any products or services mentioned in the video. You can manage your videos through your channel and users can easily search through all your uploaded videos if they wish to seek out more from you.

There are many positives to YouTube, but there are some potential downfalls, especially for businesses. YouTube is built on an advertising model, and this can distract from your videos. YouTube looks to keep its viewers on the site with “related” videos that can be quite unrelated, like suggesting you watch a video on training goats after watching a video tutorial.

YouTube has a very limited support network, so if something were to go wrong you might find it difficult to get a response. It can also let down professional users with their limited analytics service, in comparison with the more in-depth service offered by Wistia.

The sheer size of YouTube’s user base can have it’s benefits by giving you more exposure, it can also have the opposite effect, where so much content is posted daily that you might risk getting lost in the noise.


Vimeo has developed a following with its emphasis on creativity and community. It runs a well curated selection of videos showcasing the best of the community. Vimeo is aimed at film-makers, designers and the creative community in general, leaning more towards artisanal videos with high production values. Vimeo developed their reputation by having better quality compression on videos, luring in creatives that want to showcase their work in the highest possible quality.

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Also of interest is Vimeo’s Video on Demand Service, where you can sell or rent your work for a fee of your choosing. This is great for films with limited distribution, documentaries and niche, highly specialised videos, this service could be a good way to make a profit from your video.

Vimeo has a cleaner interface than both Wistia and YouTube, with fewer ads, no related videos on the sidebar and a more constructive atmosphere among commenters. This means more focus on your videos with fewer distractions and more control over your video. And while the traffic to Vimeo is lower, your videos have less risk of being lost in the clutter. This can mean that your videos will have fewer views, but if you have a video with a definite targeted audience or fanbase, Vimeo may be your best option.



Wistia bills itself as a “The Video Marketing Platform For Business,” so if you’re making small scale videos or uploading new content infrequently, Wistia may not be for you. However, if you are uploading videos regularly for professional purposes, the lack of ads, classy interface and advanced analytics provide good value for businesses.

The analytics aspect of Wistia is appealing to professionals, as it provides more information than just “play count.”

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Heatmaps can identify when users stop watching a video, and can alert you to trends that may occur in your viewer’s habits. People not making it to the end of your videos? Perhaps you can adapt to shorter, more concise videos. Repeat views on your tutorial video? Perhaps you haven’t made the information clear enough. With these analytics, you can see what your viewers are connecting with, and you can therefore improve the quality of your videos.

Wistia may lack the “social” aspect of YouTube and Vimeo, but this is a positive in a professional environment,  offering a clean, uncluttered site for videos that need to be shared and collaborated on with clients. As part of a workflow, Wistia allows for simple video replacements for slight editing tweaks, (this allows you to keep same URL while updating the video at that address) while keeping the video’s view count and analytics.

Wistia also offers a “turnstile” based system, where a user must enter an email address to watch a clip, which can allow you to generate leads for products, which is great for sales and marketing. You can link this information to automated marketing systems to allow businesses to identify viewers that are really engaged with your content, (watching multiple videos, rewatching clips) and contact them with offers that may appeal to them. You can place these “turnstiles” at the start, middle or end of clips, and ask for a name and email address to continue watching the video. This gives you a lot of information about what your viewers are most interested in, as well as a way to contact them.

Wistia offers a high level of support and a strong platform for collaborating with clients, but if you are making videos as a hobby or uploading irregularly, then Wistia may not be for you.

By analysing your needs and what you are looking to achieve with your videos, you can make the right choice with your video hosting service. If your main priority is reaching a large audience with a huge community, YouTube may be the choice for you. If you are more into film-making, and a more design focused approach, Vimeo should suit your needs. And if you need more control over your marketing and analytics for your business, then Wistia is the right choice for you.


 Ryan Spanger


Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-profit sector to connect with their audience by using video.

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