Vimeo Vs. YouTube: Which Video Sharing Site Is Best?

The pros and cons of each video sharing site

Vimeo vs YouTube
Vimeo / Google Inc.

Although there are a number of different sites and services that allow you to watch TV, stream movies or upload your own content online, two major sites tend to receive most of the attention on the web: YouTube and Vimeo.

About YouTube

YouTube is the king of online video. From business channels to personal video blogs to television, YouTube has it all.

Founded in February of 2004, more than 48 hours of user-generated video content is uploaded every minute to YouTube, and the site receives over 3 billion views per day.

YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006 for USD $1.65 billion.

About Vimeo

Vimeo is largely characterized by its content that is created and uploaded by artists, musicians and indie filmmakers who would like to share their creative work. Although the variety of video content is slightly more limited compared to the wide range available on YouTube, the popular video-sharing site has over 16,000 videos uploaded daily.

Video Sharing on Vimeo and YouTube

Both sites are ​video sharing networks that allow users to sign up, upload videos for free and participate in a community. In terms of viewing choice and connection speeds, these two sites are some of the best among competing services on the web.

If you're a creative filmmaker, you might get better feedback and engagement on Vimeo. On the other hand, if you're just a casual video blogger, uploading longer videos might be more of a priority. In that case, YouTube may be a better choice.

Whatever it is that you're looking for in a video sharing network, weighing the pros and cons will help you decide which site you should focus on.

YouTube: The Pros

  • Audience range
    YouTube is the number one video-sharing site on the web. The site popularity can drive higher ranking in search results on Google. Plus, the opportunity for discovery through related videos and search terms give it a strong reputation. The chance at being discovered by an enormous number of viewers just from uploading a video on YouTube plays a very important role in content promotion.
  • Channel customization
    You can customize your YouTube channel's appearance by selecting a background image and colors for your channel box, changing the font style, choosing a layout and organizing your videos into playlists.
  • Revenue sharing
    If your videos get enough views or your channel attracts enough subscribers, YouTube will invite you into a revenue sharing partnership. Ads are placed at the bottom of your videos and in the sidebar, giving you the opportunity to earn an income from the popularity of your videos. Although it can take a lot of time and effort to start earning a significant amount, some people are able to make a full-time living from their channels.
  • Unlimited uploads
    There is no limit on the number of videos you can upload to YouTube, which is an attractive option for people who like to upload often. Depending on the views, subscribers, number of videos and other statistics of your account, YouTube will also slowly increase the length allowed for your video uploads.

YouTube: The Cons

  • Competition
    Although the massive audience and viewing potential can be considered a huge strength on YouTube, it can also be a disadvantage. Your videos can get lost among the many, many other videos. Even if your video is considered to be very creative and worth watching, it may be difficult for others to discover it.
  • Flagging
    YouTube relies on its community to report and flag videos for copyrighted content, pornography, violence or any other inappropriate subject matter. If your video gets flagged, YouTube may remove it from the site without warning.
  • Profane comments
    As your videos grow more popular and attract more viewers, you increase the chance of receiving inappropriate comments, profanity, and spam. Bad comments can potentially lead to a bad reputation. For this reason, some users prefer to disable comments on their videos.

Vimeo: The Pros

  • Priority uploading
    Uploading videos to Vimeo is already just as convenient as it is with YouTube, but you can get even better quality when you upgrade to a paid Vimeo Pro account. With a Pro account, videos are much cleaner and require much less bandwidth for viewing.
  • Video player branding
    One thing YouTube doesn't have that Vimeo has is the ability to embed your own logo or image into the video player. On Youtube, the YouTube logo is always in the lower right corner of the video player, depriving you of a branding opportunity. 
  • Analytics
    Between YouTube and a paid Vimeo Pro account, the analytics platform on Vimeo is far superior. Some users feel that YouTube's analytics system is much too basic.
  • Community engagement
    Vimeo tends to have more audience engagement due to the focus on creative artistry, filmmaking, and music. You're more likely to receive friendlier comments and make stronger relationships with users on Vimeo than on YouTube.

Vimeo: The Cons

  • Lower traffic
    Because Vimeo is significantly smaller compared to YouTube, your video views may be more limited.
  • Paid access
    Although the Vimeo Pro features are outstanding, a Pro account has a fee. Not everyone will find it worthwhile to pay for premium features, and if you decide against it, you'll miss out on a lot of what Vimeo has to offer.
  • Commercial restrictions
    If you plan on promoting a product or service through a video on Vimeo, you are required to pay for a Pro account. If you upload a commercial video on a free account, you risk having your video taken down.
  • Cap restrictions
    Believe it or not, a Vimeo Pro account limits you to a maximum of 50 GB of uploads per year, and each video is limited to a maximum of 5 GB. A YouTube account grants unlimited video uploads, as long as each doesn't exceed 2 GB.
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