When building my platform with courses over two years ago, I remember that there were not too many options for video streaming. Vimeo seemed like the obvious choice at the time. Fortunately, we already have more options today. You probably have heard about Wistia, for example. There are also cheaper alternatives. Those who follow AppSumo probably know Vadootv. Today, however, I will show you the solution that recently engaged my attention: Cloudflare Stream.
Why we don’t upload videos directly to WordPress
Because regular hosting is not suitable for this, it doesn’t have much bandwidth. Videos will play poorly, and if a lot of people at the same time decide to watch a movie, they might kill your page. In the worst case, your hosting provider may even terminate your contract due to the use of hosting for a purpose other than its intended one.
There is a reason why you can find cheap hosting for your website but not for videos. Video hosting prices are much higher.
Cloudflare Stream: An alternative to Vimeo
I use Vimeo myself in the simplest way possible. I host videos for my online courses there. This means that I do not use social functions, analytics, and other goodies at all. As a course creator, I need these videos to be protected from sharing, e.g., no one can see the video under a publicly available URL. This is an option offered by paid Vimeo plans: we can limit the visibility of our videos to our domain only. In this way, our videos can’t be watched at a publicly available link.
Cloudflare Stream provides the same functionality. So if you do not use additional Vimeo functionalities, Cloudflare Stream is enough for you to host and embed videos on your website. And if you like minimalism, you’re going to love the interface.
Cloudflare Stream: Not only for developers
Cloudflare Stream is positioned as a platform for developers, but in my opinion, it can also be used by “non-developers.” The basic tasks can be performed through the interface. You can upload your videos and limit the movie’s visibility only to selected domains just with the interface. After uploading the movie, you get HTML code to paste on your webpage, and … that’s it.
However, if you’re a developer, you can go crazy. Using the player’s API, you can adjust its behavior to your own needs. You can also use your own player. Moreover, you can additionally secure your movies with a signed URL or add more rules for displaying the movie (e.g., based on IP).
Cloudflare Stream: How to embed videos on your WordPress site
The easiest way is straightforward. Just copy the generated piece of HTML and paste it into your post as a “custom HTML” block.
Cloudflare Stream: Pricing
Cloudflare Stream has a different approach to payments from Vimeo. At Vimeo, we do not pay for the actual usage of bandwidth or transfer. There are several paid subscription options. Their price varies with additional functionalities and not with how many minutes our videos have been watched.
Disclaimer here. Even now, when you buy any plan with Vimeo, you will see the information that the 1% of customers who will generate the most traffic every month (e.g., will have a relatively large number of video views) may be charged an additional fee. If you have doubts about whether such things happen, I know at least one example.
At Cloudflare Stream, your final fee will be divided into two parts. The first one depends on how many minutes of videos you keep on your account. So it’s a payment for hosting your videos there, regardless of whether someone was watching them or not. This fee is paid upfront for the entire month and is 5 $ for every 1,000 minutes. The second part of the fee is paid in arrears, e.g., at the end of the billing month. The cost depends on the actual views of your video. The price for 1,000 minutes of streaming is 1 $.
What makes more sense: Vimeo or Cloudflare Stream? Cloudflare Stream only seems to be a cheaper option with very little use. Assuming we only need to store 1,000 minutes of videos and we won’t have more than 1,000 minutes of views, we’ll pay 6 $. Vimeo, in the lowest package that allows you to restrict video visibility to specific domains, costs 6 € per month (if paid for a year in advance; if paid monthly, it will be 10 €). The more videos and watched minutes you have, the smaller the difference will be until you finally pay more for Cloudflare Stream.
So Cloudflare Stream or Vimeo?
For those who know how to code and want more control, I recommend Cloudflare Stream. They have excellent documentation with examples, so even fledgling developers like me can handle it.
However, if we talk only about the financial aspect, Vimeo wins. I would also recommend Vimeo to non-technical people because they can do more independently (if necessary). But Vimeo has one drawback that bothers me a bit: the approach to the customer.
So probably, some people who switched from Plus to Pro (because they were “asked” to) could switch back to Plus now. They could, but they would have to know about the change, and Vimeo does not inform you about changes to the regulations. So I have a slight anxiety that they will change something in the terms to my disadvantage, and I will only find out about it when they send me an e-mail that I have to do something or pay more. Or something will change in my favor, but I won’t know it.
However, Vimeo as an app works fine. I’ve been hosting my videos with them for two years, and rarely anything goes wrong.