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YouTube vs. Vimeo: The Key Differences in 2021

9 Min Read

Video sharing platforms have become some of the most important tools for content creators, businesses, filmmakers, or virtually anyone looking to share their video content to a broad audience. And with each year, it becomes more and more apparent that these platforms can be immensely helpful for the growth, reach, and success of individuals, brands, or businesses. In the digital age, we have more influence than ever before, making choosing the right platform to share on an essential part of the process.

YouTube and Vimeo: What are they?

At first glance, YouTube and Vimeo appear to be very similar. This is true in the sense that both are video sharing platforms open to users from around the world. Both sites allow users to upload content, view other creators’ content, and engage in a vast community of people. But as we go further into each platform, there are a number of differences that place YouTube and Vimeo on different ends of the video sharing spectrum. Let’s break down the key areas in which both platforms differ:

The Communities

YouTube is the easiest and most convenient way for anyone to upload a video and share it with the world at no cost. The content is not limited to anything in particular, making the site the internet’s “hub” for all things video-related. Over 2 billion users visit the site each month, and over a billion hours of content are watched every day. After Google, YouTube is the most visited site on the internet.

With the amount of potential exposure and visibility one video can garner, it makes sense that most creators choose YouTube as their primary platform to share their content. But having so much exposure is not always a positive, as it allows for a greater chance of negative or unwanted comments.

Vimeo has a significantly smaller user base, with around 170 million active users. While there are much fewer people using the Vimeo platform compared to YouTube, 90% of the site’s users are actively paying for one of the four subscription plans. Vimeo brands itself as a tool for professionals, by professionals.

This allows for a smaller niche market of filmmakers, producers, etc. to share, view, and critique each other’s work. Non-paying users are limited in the amount of content they can upload, which aids in keeping the content on the website more focused.

Revenue

When it comes to generating revenue, both websites carry very different approaches. As mentioned before, Vimeo has four premium subscription plans for its users, with prices ranging from $7 to $75 per month. Each subscription plan provides users with different levels of data storage, business, and analytical tools, personalization, and privacy. There is a free subscription plan, but it is very limited and not designed for the business-related use that most Vimeo users are on the website for. Being the adless platform that it is, Vimeo earns all of its money through membership fees.

On the other hand, YouTube is notoriously known for being an ad-heavy platform. When watching a video on YouTube, you will most likely experience ads before, during, and after the video. This creates a great opportunity for advertisers to promote virtually anything to a video’s viewers, while also generating revenue for YouTube itself. Video creators have the opportunity to monetize the revenue generated from the advertisements that are shown with their content. Over half (55%) of the money goes to the uploader, but it takes hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views to receive anything substantial in ad revenue.

Content and Use

YouTube’s massive user base naturally draws in video makers from all over the world, which in turn has created unlimited types of content all over the site. You’ll find everything from how-to instructionals and personal vlogs to sports highlights and movie trailers. In the last 10 years or so, internet figures have taken the world by storm, and almost all of them got their start on YouTube. Some of the world’s most successful figures in pop culture began as content creators on the site, eventually amassing a following of subscribers unlike ever before.

The YouTube content landscape truly sets it apart from all other competitors and has solidified itself as the most important and influential video-sharing service on the internet.

Vimeo greatly differs when it comes to the content on the site. As we detailed earlier, it is mainly used by professionals to post and share high-quality videos to a community of people willing to give their honest feedback. Given the environment, you will not be finding teenage vloggers with 5 million subscribers on Vimeo,

Technical Advantages/Disadvantages

Vimeo has the edge over YouTube when comparing the technical features of each site. With a far better privacy system, Vimeo allows its users to post videos that can only be seen by followers, specifically selected accounts, or watched with a required password. When comparing this to YouTube’s privacy features, there is a clear difference. YouTube only equips its users with three privacy settings: public, private, or unlisted. This only gives users the ability to create a shareable link to a private video.

Another technical positive is Vimeo’s ability to host and embed flawless high-quality videos. Those looking to share professional work can be assured their videos won’t be compressed, unlike most of the content on YouTube which is compressed for space and data purposes. And when hosting or embedding videos, Vimeo allows its users to customize its appearance with color options, branding, and selected recommended videos. YouTube’s video embedding is far less customizable, with the same player and random recommended videos at the end, making it less appealing if you were to embed an important video on website.

Which should I use?

When deciding whether to upload your videos to either YouTube or Vimeo, the purpose and nature of your content has to become a factor in the decision. While YouTube does give creators the opportunity for virality and diverse viewership, there is so much content on the site that it could easily become lost in the sea of videos. With Vimeo, you have greater control over who gets to see your work and how it reaches audiences.

For professionals, Vimeo is the right choice to maximize the look and feel of your work. And if quick, general exposure is not the main goal of the content, we recommend using Vimeo’s high-quality sharing platform to post and embed videos.

For those looking to share content with the world regardless of what it is, YouTube is the website to be on. With the thousands of success stories stemming from YouTube, its simple but effective platform gives users and creators the opportunity to go viral with little to no experience or equipment.

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