Live streaming

Vimeo vs YouTube

April 8, 2020 GM Cusiac

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Is Vimeo Live or YouTube the right streaming platform for you? This A B C Vimeo vs YouTube comparison should help you decide.

On September 26th 2017, Vimeo announced a brand new live streaming platform called Vimeo Live. It promises stress-free streaming and pristine quality with the goal of enabling content creators to achieve greater audience engagement.

According to Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, Vimeo Live will empower a wide range of video content creators to produce beautiful live experiences with professionalism and ease. So it is that Vimeo stepped boldly in to the live streaming arena where existing giants like YouTube, Facebook, and others have well-established footholds.

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Now Vimeo is no small player in the world of video creation and web distribution. It’s currently the world’s largest, ad-free open video platform out there. Adding live streaming is plain smart. With other players like Twitch expanding its In Real Life (IRL) streaming community and YouTube making unpopular changes to their monetization model, Vimeo’s timing is ripe to stake its claim of the live streaming bonanza.

So here’s the breakdown of some key differentiators of Vimeo vs YouTube. Let’s start with what Vimeo Live has to offer.

1. Vimeo Live

A. About live streaming to Vimeo Live

Vimeo acquired LiveStream in 2017 to fast-track adding live streaming to their arsenal of features for their content creators. Anybody with a PRO Live or Business Live Vimeo account can live stream in up to full HD. The PRO Live plan includes up to 10 streaming hours per month without overage charges and Business Live has unlimited live streaming. There’s also a Custom Live plan for media companies and high-volume needs.

CostIt’s not free to stream to Vimeo Live. You need to purchase either PRO Live, Business Live, or have a Custom Live plan to stream.
EncodersYou can use any streaming software or hardware encoder that supports RTMP streams, like Epiphan’s Pearl-2 and Pearl Mini all-in-one streaming, recording, and switching encoders and lecture capture devices.
Live chatYou can enable live chat for your live streaming event in the broadcast view in Vimeo Live to interact with viewers.
MultistreamingVimeo’s Simulcast feature lets you live stream to up to three different platforms at the same time using an RTMP stream. You only send one RTMP live stream to Vimeo Live and then push that broadcast from Vimeo to Twitch, YouTube, Periscope, or any other streaming platform that accepts an RTMP stream.
Video conversionAfter the stream ends, it’s automatically transcoded in the Vimeo cloud and then hosted in the Vimeo library. The transcoded video uses the same resolution settings as the original live stream and is transcoded for optimal playback in the Vimeo player.

If you recorded a high-resolution version of your live stream, say in 4K, you can edit it using your own editing software, then replace the archived version with the higher resolution version.
PrivacyIn the broadcast view, you can set the privacy of your streaming event and where it can be embedded. The transcoded video can also be password protected. You can also specify domain-level privacy to define which websites are allowed to embed the video on their site. The privacy settings in collections (channels, groups, albums, and portfolios) and review pages override the privacy settings of the video.
Live streaming specsYou stream to Vimeo Live as an RTMP stream. A single stream can be up to a maximum of 12 hours long (10 hours for PRO Live). The streaming settings of your streaming software or hardware encoder (such as Epiphan Video’s Pearl-2 or Pearl Mini) are used for the live stream, as well as the resulting transcoded VOD after your stream ends. Your viewers are served the best quality video for their device and bandwidth availability.

Vimeo recommends these encoder settings:
  • Codec H.264
  • Output resolution of 1920×1080 (maximum)
  • Frame rate of 60 fps (maximum)
  • Key frame interval of 2 seconds
  • B. Editing, SEO tagging, and other features

    In the Vimeo Live broadcast view, you can set the live streaming encoding settings, add a title and description, add a custom thumbnail, and preview the stream before going live.

    SEO taggingVideos are “indexed and surfaced across all major search engines and social platforms” and include data rich video snippets (i.e. thumbnail previews) and social metadata to improve SEO. Vimeo content still ranks on Google’s organic search page with rich video snippets despite the algorithm changes that were made in 2014 that limits displaying rich video snippets in search results.

    Content creators can add engaging titles, descriptions, and tags to help with searches, although tags are most useful to improve search results within Vimeo. Embedding and hosting videos are also options.

    You can check out what the microdata for your video looks like by entering your video page URL in to Google’s structured data testing tool.
    Video editingVimeo doesn’t provide a video editor. After your live stream ends and is transcoded, you can replace it with a version that you’ve edited using your own editing software if you recorded the live stream locally.
    Other features
  • All members can create and moderate multiple channels, groups, albums and portfolios; as well as categorize and add tags to videos to help people find content when searching the Vimeo library.
  • Schedule live events.
  • You can manage your videos all in one place and get up to 5TB of storage per week (20GB for PRO Live). There’s also tools for team collaboration with Business Live and projects.
  • Support for custom video thumbnail images is a feature to not ignore since it’s an absolute staple for better SEO and social media engagement. After the stream ends and is transcoded, you can make and upload custom thumbnails, as well as add captions and subtitles. You can add videos to private collections, including channels, groups, albums, and portfolios, as well as create review pages for collaborative work with other creatives and review content before it’s published.
  • You can also customize the embedded player in Vimeo to do things like add end screens and your company logo. Vimeo offers a bunch of custom options to embed videos, depending on your membership level. You can also replace the cloud transcoded version of your live stream with a higher quality recording if you have one.
  • Add cards and end screens (Business Live).
  • Vimeo integrates with other tools like Dropbox, Adobe, MailChimp, and Google Analytics.
  • C. Monetization, ads, and analytics!

    Vimeo is currently the world’s largest, ad-free open video platform out there. No ads play before, during, or after your live stream. Neither do ads play when watching the hosted video on Vimeo. So how does Vimeo handle creators wanting to market and monetize their content?

    MonetizationVimeo’s model mainly works on engaging audiences so creators can sell creative content and offers features like customizing the player, custom portfolios, and controlled world-wide distribution. Vimeo OTT offers a way creators can launch a subscription service for their videos with options like customizable branded apps as a tool for audience growth and to sell videos.

    Vimeo On Demand (VOD) is also available so you can sell or rent your videos directly to your audience.
    AdvertisingThe appeal of Vimeo is its huge library of high-quality content, collaborative features like video review pages, and great security features like password protection – and no ads!

    Business Live members do get everything already available with Vimeo Business and can access Video Interaction tools to add end screens, cards, as well as enable email capture for videos played in the embedded Vimeo player. Integration with tools like MailChimp, as well as Google Analytics to monitor statistics is also available.
    Resources & analyticsThere’s a comprehensive online help for Vimeo Live, as well as a team of real support people who provide email responses within 1 hour and chat support on weekdays during U.S. business hours. You can also sign up for free tutorials, case studies, and an email series from Vimeo Video School to learn live streaming fundamentals. The videos are informative and fun to watch.

    Chat support is available during a live stream. If a live video support specialist isn’t available, your issue is routed to the email support team who will respond within a specified response time.

    A statistics dashboard is available to paying members where you can view analytics and create custom reports. PRO Live members get more detailed statistics and reporting filters, and Business Live members get additional features like integration with Google Analytics and statistics on interaction tools like email capture, cards, and calls-to-action.

    D. Disadvantages

    This biggest hurdle to jump over is definitely the price. It costs to live stream to Vimeo and you need to purchase either PRO Live or Business Live plans to do any live streaming.

    Depending how you look at it, no advertising can be a positive or a minus. But either way, it’s a challenge to monetize content on Vimeo. However, Vimeo OTT and Vimeo On Demand are great tools to help you sell your video.

    The audience for content on Vimeo is a more guarded community. Again, this can be a good thing because you know who your audience is. But when you compare Vimeo vs YouTube and consider YouTube’s broad appeal and easy access to free streaming with unlimited video hosting, it’s a challenge. That said, the audience is more targeted in Vimeo – so it’s all in how you look at it.

    Vimeo also retired their user forum.

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    2. YouTube

    A. About live streaming to YouTube

    Just about anyone with an Internet connection can create a YouTube channel for free and live stream to it, but your channel must first be verified and can’t have any live stream restrictions in the last 90 days. Read our complete guide: How to live stream to YouTube.

    CostIt’s free!
    EncodersYou can use any streaming software or hardware encoder that supports RTMP streams, like Epiphan’s Pearl-2 and Pearl Mini all-in-one streaming, recording, and switching encoders and lecture capture devices.
    Live chatAnyone who is logged in to YouTube can participate in the online chat during your live stream. You can moderate the chat, delete inappropriate comments, and even ban users who make inappropriate comments. After the live event ends, people can continue to contribute to an ongoing conversation on the transcoded video. And pretty soon, YouTube is releasing a feature to let you play back the live chat while you’re watching the video so the experience is just like watching the actual live stream.
    MultistreamingYouTube doesn’t offer multistreaming as a service.
    Video conversionAny stream that falls within the maximum stream length restriction is automatically converted to video on demand, which is then archived on your channel for an unlimited amount of time.

  • Stream now = 12 hours (max)
  • Events = 8 hours (max)
  • Mobile = 8 hours (max)
  • 1440p or 2160p (4k) = 4 hours (max)

    YouTube automatically transcodes your video in to different output formats. Videos can be downloaded in 1080p or 720p format and channel admins can control if a video can or can’t be downloaded.
  • PrivacyYouTube lets you set the privacy of your live streaming events as either Public, Unlisted, or Private. When your live stream ends, the transcoded video gets the same privacy setting as your live stream, which you can change later using Creator Studio.
    Live streaming specsYou stream to YouTube as an RTMP stream. There’s no limit as to how long a live stream can be, but only streams that meet the maximum stream length restrictions get transcoded as a video on demand. If you choose to Stream now, the streaming settings of your streaming software or hardware encoder (such as Webcaster X2) are used.

    If you schedule an event, you can choose a resolution, frame rate, and bitrate for your stream.

    YouTube supports a variety of bitrates and resolutions. Your viewers are served the best quality video for their device and bandwidth availability.

    For full HD, we recommend these settings:
  • Codec H.264
  • Output resolution of 1920x1080p
  • Frame rate of 60 fps with a bit rate of 4.5 to 9 Mbps (or 30 fps and 3 to 6 Mbps)
  • Key frame interval of 2 seconds

    For HD, we recommended these settings:
  • Codec H.264
  • Output resolution of 1280x720p
  • Frame rate of 60 fps with a bit rate of 4.5 to 9 Mbps (or 30 fps and 3 to 6 Mbps)
  • Key frame interval of 2 seconds
  • B. SEO tagging, video editing & other features

    YouTube offers Creator Studio, which has lots of features to help you manage your live events and archived videos.

    SEO taggingYouTube boasts one of the most searched video libraries on the Internet. Once your live stream is transcoded, you can tag the video for better search results in YouTube and, according to YouTube, tagging improves results in search engines like Google.

    Use the Creator Studio to add engaging titles, descriptions, and tags to help with searches. Embedding and hosting videos are also options.

    Tip: Google’s AdWords keyword planner can help improve the ranking of your videos.

    YouTube ranks highly in Google’s search algorithm and supports data rich video snippets (i.e. thumbnail previews). You can check out what the metadata for your YouTube video looks like by entering your video’s URL in to Google’s structured data testing tool.
    Video editingOnce your live stream has transcoded to a video, use the basic video editing features of Creator Studio to do things like trim the video, add closed captioning, annotations, and cards that can link to other videos or websites. There’s also a decent audio library at your disposal. And YouTube is adding live captioning to its arsenal of features.
    Other features
  • Support for custom video thumbnail images is another feature to not ignore since it’s an absolute staple for better SEO and social media engagement.
  • Unlimited storage.
  • You can schedule events, post detailed descriptions, preview your stream before going live, and easily create a hyperlinked video index in the description from the Creator Studio.
  • Add cards and end screens (Partners).
  • Channel admins can embed a video or playlist to blogs and websites. However, to embed a live stream, you need to have an approved AdSense account linked to your Google account.
  • YouTube lets you create playlists to help organize videos on your channel.
  • C. Monetization, ads, and analytics!

    To monetize your YouTube content, you need to become a YouTube partner and sign up for an AdSense account to get paid. YouTube changed the rules for eligibility to join the partnership program on January 16, 2018. A channel must reach 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and have 1,000 subscribers to join the program. You can read the full eligibility guidelines here.

    MonetizationThere are a few ways partners can earn revenue on their live streams. Partners can enable ads, use Super Chat (where people watching your live stream purchase a super chat that is highlighted with color and bubbles up to the top of the list), or receive sponsorships on some gaming channels, which is currently in beta trials.
    AdvertisingAd options for live streams include pre-roll ads that run before the live stream and mid-roll ads that run during the live stream, which can also be manually inserted during the stream. Display and overlay ads that run beside or over content are other options available for live streams. Mid-roll, display, and overlay ads are only seen when the stream is watched from a desktop, whereas pre-roll ads appear for both desktop and mobile viewers.

    Other, post-live advertising avenues exist for partners, such as in-stream ads that play before people can watch the main video, discovery ads that show up in search results on YouTube’s homepage and alongside related videos, and 6 second bumper ads. See YouTube’s True View advertising for more information about that.
    Resources & analyticsYouTube offers online help and resources to help you get started, like YouTube’s playbook and AdWords help. Plus there’s a large community of YouTubers who regularly upload videos, write articles, and contribute to the public YouTube Help Forum.

    YouTube’s Creator Studio provides live broadcast statistics in the Analytics section of the live dashboard, which are kept after the live stream ends and is transcoded as a VOD.

    YouTube also offers their partners perks, like email support and access to YouTube spaces.

    D. Disadvantages

    A disadvantage with YouTube live streaming is that if you stream copyrighted music, even inadvertently, you’ll get blocked. If that happens, you have to go through an arbitration process to get YouTube to reinstate your status. Your account absolutely must be in good standing to live stream. Even if you’ve paid royalties and have permission to play certain music, the chances are that won’t stop YouTube from blocking your account and ruining your live event.

    Recent changes make it harder to qualify to monetize content, which is a big disincentive – particularly for newcomers to live streaming. It takes a whole lot of time, patience, investment in equipment, and dedication to try and meet the new qualifications.

    If you’ve ever watched a bunch of videos on YouTube, you’re going to get served a lot of those pre-roll ads. A benefit for advertisers, but not so much for consumers, especially when you’re served the same ones over and over.

    The viewership on YouTube is also very broad and it’s easy to get lost in the huge sea of YouTube content. Plus it’s also not uncommon to pick up a few maleficent trolls during a live stream (it happens more often than you think!) When comparing Vimeo vs YouTube, the two have very different communities. You can read more details about the YouTube Community Guidelines for content creators, Ad-friendly Guidelines, and this recent YouTube blog about the challenges facing YouTube and how YouTube is reacting.

    A final word about Vimeo vs YouTube

    The choice between Vimeo vs YouTube and what each has to offer shows some clear differences.

    It does cost money to live stream using Vimeo Live, but if keeping the video URL is important for your application, then Vimeo is the way to go. You can upload new versions of the video and keep on using the same URL. The bonus ability to upload higher quality recorded versions of a live stream, which you can edit before posting, is certainly appealing to the more discerning audience.

    Vimeo’s audience is definitely more targeted. Vimeo Live streaming can help creators connect with other, like-minded people and get more exposure for their work. Vimeo also provides subscription and distribution features to help you rent and sell videos using Vimeo OTT and Vimeo On Demand. Using the transcoded video at the end of a live stream to build up your portfolio is also useful.

    YouTube, on the other hand, is a live streaming Goliath with a wide spectrum of mom and pop content. It’s free to live stream, but it’s also easy to get lost in the massive wading pool of content. And for the most part, that content doesn’t necessarily have to show the marks of being a high-quality production (but it’s great when it does!) New features keep rolling out, like linking a Super Chat to IFTTT controllable devices. But not being able to go back and edit a video may be a hassle for companies who do training or embed a lot of videos. And if you’re a radio station or streaming from events that feature music (even music in the background), that could be a problem with YouTube.

    So when considering Vimeo vs YouTube, a question that still needs to be answered is, “Are Vimeo content creators ready to switch from a controlled, collaborative, and well produced environment to the unpredictability of live streaming?” That still remains to be seen. However, Vimeo Live has certainly made a grand entrance on to the live streaming stage and we’ll be watching to see how it goes from here.

    If you’re ready to take the next step and live stream your content, see the experts at Epiphan Video, a trusted leader in professional quality video capture and hardware encoders that make streaming easy. Check out the Pearl-2 and Pearl Mini all-in-one video encoding, streaming, switching, and recording systems for exceptional looking live streams and recordings in up to 4K.

    Finally, here is an infographic to help you remember these tips!

    Vimeo vs YouTube


    1. Thanks for post!

      Whats the longest I can live stream?
      I tested maximum time stream is 17 hours but YouTube only storage 12 hours (11:55:00)
      Demo video

      If time stream over 18 hours, so Youtube won’t storage!

    2. DVM

      Under monetization, it would be helpful if you covered paid live events. Do either YouTube or Vimeo offer the ability to charge users to access the live stream, and how easy do they make and how fair is their cut on the processing.

    3. Malika

      Thank you for sharing information!

    4. Luke Thompson

      I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on what a new service should look like? what features are missing from these powerhouses and what services added could help content contributors?

      • Marta Chernova

        That’s a tough one Luke… We often feel like these powerhouses are always trying to keep up with the latest trend and even be one step ahead. It would be hard to imagine what else a creator might want from a streaming service.

    5. Brian Mulligan

      Youtube Live does not allow screensharing. Does Vimeo?

    6. Ashraf

      Thanks for informative article

    7. Russell Pastuch

      How stable is Vimeo vs YouTube? We have been streaming our church services with OBS to YouTube for 5 months and all was well until 2 weeks ago, when the stream died at 10am both Sunday mornings? Any thoughts if YouTube is choking with everyone going online? Or might our new, beautiful wonderful Pearl2 stand up to disruptions a bit better?

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