In the last few years, online video has become omni present. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Vimeo are the primary channels but there are a host of others all fighting for your video. Apple Podcasts has been traditionally an audio experience so we’re often asked why we opted to use this format. There are a few advantages to Apple Podcasts that locked our decision to use them for our content delivery.
Size: Right up front we knew that storage was going to be an issue for the figure8 project. Initial videos in 1080p were between 1gb to 4gb. This immediately illuminated email and other smaller mediums from our delivery options. The next place we tried was YouTube but there are duration and size limits there for free accounts. We then looked to Vimeo for their focus on artistic presentation and purposeful lack of cat videos. They had some limitations of their free accounts also. Podcasts however, do not host your video, they simply link to the video file on your own website. My partner DreamHost does not cap bandwidth or storage sizes. They do have some fine print about large files using too much server RAM but most of my files wouldn’t begin to approach their limits. Using Podcast would mean that we would never have to compromise the duration or quality of video we wanted to serve.
Cost: Most popular video services do not charge money for video hosting but many often charge in the currency of privacy or other intrinsic value. We were initially willing to make this deal but Facebook took issue with the commercial music in the background of our videos. Even though this was a small project and no song ever played in its entirety, our post was blocked. This was also true with Vimeo. We also ran into an issue with Vimeo with file size restrictions. With the free account, you’re limited to 500mb/week upload. If an episode was more than their cap, a paid plan would be required. Podcasts were not limited by any of these costs or restrictions. We could upload as many free videos as we wanted with no cost or restriction.
Presentation: One of the main reasons we started this podcast was to share our love of climbing. We did not start this project to have our videos presented next to cat videos or in-between Viagra ads. With YouTube and to a certain extent Facebook would do with our video. You have little control over how these channels serve up related video or ads. On your website however, you have total control over presentation. On Apple Podcasts, you lack most of your control other than album artwork but Apple’s presentation aesthetic was so clean that even though it wasn’t going to pair well with the website, at least it was out-of-the-way. In addition, the Apple Podcast app on iPhone/iPad was simple, clean, and easy to use.
Delivery: This facet of our project was by far the most important. Our web host partner Dreamhost is great, but they are not as optimized for video delivery as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. So when we would upload these large video projects to the website, waiting for them to load became a painstaking effort. At the time, we used 1080p quality and there was no option to down-grade quality for faster load times. The file was on the server and you downloaded it. With Apple Podcasts however, content downloads in the background. So imagine you’re producing this content and your user is trying to watch it while downloading. They’ll get tired of waiting and leave it. But if the video is already saved on their device automatically in high quality they get a fast experience without compromising quality. In addition, WordPress allows you to schedule posts to publish at night so the episodes are loaded while users are asleep and charging. Overall the delivery is seamless for the user explaining their popularity.
For these reasons, the project was ultimately published on our website and delivered through Apple Podcasts. Since then, it has been a really positive experience. We’ve been able to produce the podcast with very low overhead and keep the presentation ad free. If you have any questions about how to get started with your own related project, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.