What is video hosting and why do you need it?
Video hosting is a third-party service that allows users to store and stream their videos for their online courses. The target audience can access the video content by visiting the host website. In this case, the host website will be the one running the LearnDash course and the target audience is the students. Students will access the website and the course, and the videos they watch are actually being hosted via a video hosting company, separate from the web hosting company that is hosting the website.
Video hosting allows you to host videos without incurring the costs associated with self-hosting video files. Videos can take up a tremendous amount of storage space. And there needs to be enough bandwidth to ensure smooth streaming for students watching the videos, especially if dozens or even hundreds of people are watching the same video at the same time.
Typical web hosting companies that host your website will not be set up to host your videos nor are they meant to host videos. As mentioned above, video hosting has specialized requirements. That’s why it’s important to use a video hosting company to host your videos for your online courses. They are set up to optimize the storage and bandwidth required as much as possible to make it as affordable as possible.
Not only that, but video hosting companies will typically offer various features for your videos that you cannot get if you try to host the videos on your own or try to use your web hosting company to host them. More on that below.
Is LearnDash hosting any different?
When you hear the term “hosting for LearnDash” this will typically refer to a discussion on hosting the website or hosting the WordPress website.
When you build a course with LearnDash you are first and foremost building your website using the WordPress CMS. WordPress allows you to build out a site without knowing how to code. Then once you have a basic (or advanced) website set up with WordPress you can install the LearnDash plugin to set up your courses.
This website requires hosting, which means you pay a company to gain access to their web server. And then you store all of the code and information on that server that makes your website function.
LearnDash has specific requirements that make your choice for hosting important. The reason why is simple and it has to do with cache.
You’ve probably heard the term “cache” before when it comes to your browser like Chrome or Firefox. Your browser will store copies of certain parts of web pages that you load, like images and specific parts of code of the page.
Web hosting servers work the same way. They store cache to reduce the amount of processing power and work that it needs to deliver web pages to visitors of those pages. Normally they both serve important functions to improve user experience and imporove server performance.
However, websites that have LearnDash set up track the progress of students while they are taking a course. That means that the website needs to display different information on every page that loads for every student on the site. Because of that, the same sort of caching mechanisms that hosting companies use will cause problems. Every page load needs to load a fresh page and not a cached version.
Because of this you need to make sure you are using a very high-quality hosting company for your site that can perform these functions for you.
What are your video hosting choices?
Picking the right platform for your online courses is indeed a significant choice that you will make. Hence it is crucial to understand the differences as well as similarities between various video hosting platforms before selecting one of them.
Before moving on to the list of some of the best video hosting platforms for LearnDash courses, take a look at the platform features you should consider.
The most obvious place to start is going to be the video hosting services that work with LearnDash’s Video Progression feature. Since these companies were picked by LearnDash to actually work with their unique Video Progression feature, it only make sense to discuss them.
These are the platforms that are integrated with them:
Spotlightr – Yep, that’s us. One of our core values here at Spotlightr is transparency. We are transparent about what we can do, what we can’t do, what we charge, and who we are great for (and not so great for).
Having said that, we’ll talk below about why we believe we are the best choice for most people for their LearnDash video hosting. Notice we said most people, not all. We’ll be the first to admit that their might be a better choice for you depending on what is most important to you.
Wistia – In the world of video hosting sites, most people have heard of Wistia as they have been around the block. They provide a good solution with a nice looking player. They do have some marketing features included with their feature-set as well as basic analytics.
Cost is going to be an issue for some people as they charge per video file uploaded. Plus plan is $24/month and includes just 20 videos. After that each video is $2.00. That means if you have 100 video on this plan you’re looking at $224/month with minimal features. Ouch.
Next plan up is Pro at $99/month and includes 50 videos. Over 50 videos is $1.00 each. Pricing goes up from there.
For basic stuff like calls to action and password protection you need the Pro plan.
Wistia videos are also easy to download with any browser extension or plugin. If your video security is important then Wistia might not be for you.
Vimeo – Probably the “biggest player” on the block in terms of eLearning hosting, and most people who use Vimeo use them on brand recognition alone. While we at Spotlightr are obviously trying to change that, if “brand recognition” is your priority then Vimeo might be a good choice for you.
Vimeo also gives would-be customers wide eyes with their storage offering. If you need terabytes of storage then you will definitely save money using Vimeo over Spotlightr. But we would venture to guess that 98% of people using LearnDash don’t need that much storage and never will.
Other than that, there are a variety of reasons why Vimeo might not be for you and we go into that extensively in this blog post.
Youtube – The totally free option. If you are looking for a no-cost solution, then by all means use Youtube. Just be aware of some of the drawbacks you will face which we get into in this blog post. While free is great, there is certainly a trade-off.
Presto Player – Not a platform, just a WordPress player plugin. It doesn’t host or deliver any videos, it is just a player with some player options and you need to put your videos somewhere to use it. The most popular choice seems to be bunny.net. Bunny isn’t a video hosting company, they are a CDN company, but they also offer video hosting as one of their side offerings.
Bunny’s main advantage is cost, since they are a CDN company they can not only store your videos but use their own CDN network to deliver your video content at a low cost. Users typically pay less than $10/month for the service.
What Bunny is missing is a variety of customization, branding, marketing, and specific eLearning player options. It provides a very basic video player and no analytics at all. So you need to use Presto Player to make up for some of that. For example, adding some customization to your player or branding need to be done via the plugin. So you basically need to navigate 2 different tools to get not even half of the features that Spotlightr offers.
But even using both of them together, you are not going to get any video analytics or reporting that give you insight into what students are watching and not watching. With Spotlightr you’ll know exactly which student watched which videos across your entire course or courses, giving you insight into what students want and don’t want. This is invaluable information when creating new courses.
Want to know if John Smith, with email johnsmith333@gmail, completed the first few lessons as he was instructed to do? With just a few clicks run a report on his email and you’ll see exactly which videos he watched and exactly which parts he watched.
There are no marketing features to help you grow your student-base or market your other courses. For example, with our integrations you can connect to your email service provider and tag students based on what videos they watched and how much of a video they watched.
As far as costs go, Presto Player is currently $69/year for one website and then along with Bunny costs of $5 to $10 per month, compared to Spotlightr’s Spark plan of $9/month for up to 25 videos or the Aurora plan for $19/month for unlimited videos. That means for just a few bucks more per month you are getting our Aurora plan with tons of customization and marketing options, all within one platform. And if you are someone who loves WordPress and wants to stay in it as much as possible for video uploads and configuration, we do have a free WordPress plugin to use in conjunction with your platform account!
Amazon S3 – A simple, no-frills option. Many people use S3 to store files and also their videos, so this can be a solution for those that have their videos on S3 already.
This will give you a basic player with zero options and zero protection. You are also serving the video from just one location which is where your bucket is located physically. There is no CDN delivery of your videos, so some viewers may experience slowness and buffering.
You also have the option to use Spotlightr if your videos are stored on S3. With your hybrid hosting you can add the link to your video to Spotlightr and use our player and platform features.
WordPress hosting – As mentioned above, this is definitely not recommended and should only be used if you have no other choice. Just understand that eventually you will run into various issues and problems with storage and delivery. Please consider one of the above solutions.
Finally, let’s get into why we think Spotlightr is the right video hosting choice for most people. When we discussed the various other options above, we did mention when we think you should NOT use us. For example, if you absolutely need a no-cost solution then use Youtube.
We offer what we believe to be the most player customization options on the market. Keep your players on-brand with our color and logo options. Change the look and feel of your player button (or even uploada your own).
Over 20 overlay templates to choose from to allow you to add links, images, buttons, and even any HTML you want on top of your video. Add opt-in forms right on your videos and connect to your email service provider. Grow your lists by sending leads right from your videos and get them on your marketing campaigns.
Create quizzes to test your students on their knowledge and add those questions right inside your videos. With multiple question types to choose from, you’ll find what you need in order to challenge and train your students with video.
Our Gallery module provides a way to share one video or dozens of videos. Use them as supplemental content, put your videos behind a pay-wall for extra revenue. You can also grant access via access codes, configuring them to expire in multiple ways.
Protection & Security
Every video you add to Spotlightr is encrypted by default, making browser extensions and plugins that download videos useless. Your valuable video lessons are safe and protected.
Student Progress & Reporting
Gain valuable insight into what students are watching and not watching, making your content decisions easier for your next set of courses.
Video Hosting For eLearning That Does It All
Spotlightr is built for learning. We’ve got the branding, customization, and marketing features that you need to build your enrollments expand your course offerings.
Try it for 14 days and see why we are the obvious choice
for your courses. No credit card required.