The importance of online video hosting is growing due in large part to the dramatic rise in online video streaming and connected viewing devices. As Internet video continues to proliferate at a staggering rate, so to do the number and different types of devices on which it can be consumed. For instance, comScore reported that in November 2011 alone, 183 million U.S. Internet users watched more than 40 billion online videos. And Cisco predicts the number of Internet-connected devices in the world will have doubled to 25 billion in 2015 from 12.5 billion in 2010. With so many people watching so much video on so many different screens, providing an optimal viewing experience is critical, not to mention increasingly complicated.
Though they can serve many functions, the foremost purpose of most online video hosting platforms is to remove much of the complication of delivering and optimizing video for whatever device a viewer is using or their connection speed, be it a PC, smartphone, tablet or connected TV. Though there are many different complexities involved, the process can be broken down into the following four general functions:
Upload & Transcode: Once a video is finalized, the online video hosting platform provides a facility to upload the file from the local source to cloud-based storage. This can typically take place either one file at a time or in batches. As part of the upload process, the video file is transcoded into several renditions of various sizes and qualities. It is the video transcoding process that optimizes the video to appear in the best possible quality on any given viewing device or connection speed.
Manage: Whether your video library consists of a handful of clips or thousands of assets, an online video hosting platform will offer tools to help you organize and manage your video content. While management encompasses a diverse and broad range of functions, core capabilities will include sorting by different fields and the ability to create custom metadata for quick and effective searches, as well as playlist, scheduling and control support that enables users to determine when and where content can play.
Player: The online video player is the viewer experience, serving as the context in which your content will appear. Video hosting platforms normally offer numerous player templates along with what could be a deep toolkit of customization options that allow you to create a player that best fits the environment in which it will appear and the experience you are aiming to create. The player can also present various opportunities for viewers to control and interact with the content with everything from pause, rewind and fast forward functions to options for sharing or embedding on social sites.
Deliver: Content delivery is one of the most dynamic functions that an online video hosting platform must support. No matter if the video is an on-demand request or live stream, the processes that take place are critical to the end-user experience. As part of this final step to connect your content with viewers, the platform identifies in real-time the amount of bandwidth available to any given user and adjusts to any fluctuations on the fly, ensuring a consistently high-quality experience for every viewer.
The above components should serve as the basic features for any online video hosting platform. Brightcove was founded on the premise of creating not only these core tools, but also a host of complementary capabilities and services that content owners across industries and around the world can use to manage, deliver and monetize online video content.