Cloudflare Stream: An alternative to Vimeo

When I was building my platform with courses over two years ago, I remember that there were not too many options when it comes to 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 engaged my attention recently, and it is Cloudflare Stream.

Why we don’t upload videos directly to WordPress

Because regular hosting is simply not suitable for this and it doesn’t have such 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 really 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 just 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. that 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 own website. And if you like minimalism, you’re going to love the interface.

Cloudflare Stream: Not only for developers

Cloudflare Stream is positioned rather 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 visibility of the movie only to selected domains just with the interface. After uploading the movie, you get HTML code to paste it on your webpage and … that’s it.

However, if you’re a developer, you can really 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 really simple. Just copy the generated piece of HTML and paste it into your post as a “custom HTML” block.

Video settings in CloudflareStream

Cloudflare Stream: Pricing

Cloudflare Stream has different approach to payments from Vimeo. At Vimeo, we do not pay for real usage of bandwith or transfer. There are several paid subscription options. Their price varies with additional functionalities and not with how many minutes in total 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 on a monthly basis (i.e. will have a relatively large number of video views) may be charged an additional fee. If you have doubts whether such things really 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, i.e. at the end of the billing month. The fee depends on the actual views of your video. The price for 1,000 minutes of views is 1 $.

Cloudflare Stream: pricing

What makes more sense: Vimeo or Cloudflare Stream? Cloudflare Stream only seems to be a cheaper option with very little use. Even 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 a total of 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?

It depends.

For those who know how to code and would like to have more control, I definitely recommend Cloudflare Stream. They have nice 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 will be able to do more there on their own (if necessary). But Vimeo has one drawback that bothers me a bit, and that is the approach to the customer.

The already mentioned situation with the 1% of accounts generating the highest traffic is understandable. But for some time, using a Plus account on Vimeo for commercial purposes was against the regulations. You couldn’t see the information in the moment of payment unless you really read terms of use. At some point they decided to go after those who were using the account for commercial purposes. These users were “asked” to upgrade to a higher plan within two weeks or their account would be deleted. Later, they changed the regulations so you can use any paid plan for commercial purposes.

So probably some of those 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 just have a slight anxiety that they will change something in the regulations 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 now, and rarely anything goes wrong.

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