Here we go folks! All those high-priced OVPs are going to have to fight to stay alive as Longtail’s Bits on the Run has announced they’re going freemium (YA!) with a Free video hosting and streaming service option. While they’re not the first OVP to do free (as I already use PlayWire’s freemium service which is still going through some growing pains but for which you can sign up and click Free Premium account), they are perhaps one of the largest and most well known. Of course, it’s not quite all that.

Free Video Hosting: The Long(tail) and Short of Bits on the Run

Longtail has begun offering a Freemium version of it’s OVP Bits on the Run. Bits on the Run Free gets you (monthly) 1GB of platform usage (storage), 5GB of video delivery (bandwidth) with no premium support, priority transcoding or access to the reseller program. Great for smaller sites, but may not be ideal for regular video content publishers. They can of course tie into Longtail’s ad solution and JW Player.

Custom video encodes include MP4 (H264/AAC), WebM (VP8/Vorbis), and FLV video (H263/MP3). Custom audio encodes consist of AAC, Vorbis, and MP3 audio.

The other Bits on the Run Option is Pro which offers a Pay-as-you-Go model that requires you to pre-pay some amount to charge up your account and as you upload to the platform and then stream to your viewers it whittles away at your account balance. I did a few calculations and 10 hours of content at Bits on the Run would run you $36.90 as it falls in the 10-25GB/month which is $3.69/GB Now if you stream 25-100 hours a month it’s $1.29/GB and so if your users watched 100 hours in a month, it would be $32.25 for the streaming which brings the grand total to $69.15.

Yes, the costs add up quicker than an AT&T U-Verse excessive bandwidth charge (*rimshot*).

“LongTail Video is committed to providing publishers with outstanding video tools at affordable prices,” said Dave Otten, co-Founder and CEO of LongTail Video. “With our new pricing model, publishers can enjoy the all the benefits of an enterprise-level video platform for no additional cost.  This is a big win for publishers.”

Now, no monthly fees is nice and no contract is also nice. But the storage/bandwidth prices grow quite quickly. I have 1TB of bandwidth on my virtual private server for Gamers Daily News and it, along with the server, and the 105GB of disk space costs me about $60 a month. 1TB of bandwidth at Bits on the Run, that’s about $202. If that were on 105GB of stored content, it would be $463.69 total, per month.

Playing Around with Playwire’s Freemium Hosting

Playwire on the other hand offers a Free version and a Pay-as-you-Go. Their free version is supported by revenue sharing and they offer unlimited bandwidth and storage, a free, customizable Bolt Flash video player, their own ad exchange and 720p, 2,000 kbps bitrate transcoding. They also encode each video in multiple output codecs including: HD, iPhone, various H264 bitrates and others to ensure the best possible quality is delivered on all devices including the iPhone, iPad, Androids and most wireless devices.

Files uploads for uploads are currently capped at 1.5Gb per file.

Storage and bandwidth unlimited  – provided that you are streaming video through their system and generating monthly revenue through the ads they serve you can pretty much have unlimited both ways. But if you’re just going to be parking your content out on their servers, they’ll start charging you for that parking spot. On the pricing page it says:

Storage is included until it becomes greater than bandwidth usage. Storage past bandwidth usage is $0.30/GB

Currently, the revenue share on the advertising is 60/40 (them/you) but they are testing some other revenue share percentages so that could change in the near future. I don’t want to give any figures as they’re not set in stone presently.

For those that choose the pay-as-you-go option, things are quite simple.  The first 50GB are $1 each, the next 150GB are 75 cents each, 800GB are 0.35 and 2000 are 0.25. So the more you stream, the less you pay overall. The first 2GB are free

1TB of streaming with their pay as you go would be $446.50 That would also give you up to 1TB of storage theoretically.

Free Video Hosting Services Compared

While the two companies go about it in different ways, the end result is almost the same in their pay-as-you-go options. In regards to the Free versions, Bits on the Run offers severely limited storage and bandwidth, which really makes theirs more like a limited trial instead of an actually usable solution. Meanwhile, the free version of Playwire cuts into your ad profits but costs you nothing out of pocket. If you’re generating hundreds or thousands in revenue monthly from the ads you’re showing, that makes the service quite pricey in the long run.  If you’re a smaller business looking to generate income on some existing content or new content, this might be a good solution.

There are some other major differences between the two. Longtail and Bits on the Run have been in the space far longer than Playwire, which is part of Intergi. Intergi has been in the online display business for some time now and Playwire is a more recent expansion of their offerings. The main focus of Intergi and Playwire is that 18-34, male, gaming and entertainment space.

Longtail, their ad solution and Bits on the Run are aimed at higher end online video publishers and they offer a much more robust solution. Playwire is still working on expanding their service to a full feature list. For example, bulk uploading is a royal pain (and requires the files to be out on a server and a CSV file with all the information on them) and they don’t offer an FTP solution like Longtail does.

So both have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which exactly will work best for you. My suggestion, call them both and ask. Don’t sit and pore over this information or that on the websites. The best way to get what you need is to tell them both and get a proper reply. For me, Playwire works best because GDN doesn’t have tons of video or revenue, but I sure would like an FTP upload option. Bits on the Run, on the other hand, is far outside our price range and one great month of video viewing at GDN could bankrupt me. So I feel that the revenue sharing with Playwire is, or rather, will be worth it some day once they make it easier to get videos into the system. One of the bonuses with them is the automatic YouTube Sync which is really only helpful if you’re publishing unique content and want to distribute there. Would be nice for them to continue expanding that as well as their transcoding (no WebM at present) and better analytics, like TubeMogul’s InPlay (which should be the industry standard if you ask me).