Why We Need Open Video Hosting

[Note: I lost my usage report and have now rediscovered it; data revised downwards on 2010-04-06 15:30 BST]

Length of “Why Theology Is Important” video 2 minutes 7 seconds
Size of video in Ogg format (already reduced to 1/4 the resolution of the original) 26MB
Total gerv.net bandwidth used in 1 week 69GB
Inclusive bandwidth allowance with my package in 1 month 32GB
Cost of additional bandwidth per GB £1.40
Additional cost to me, so far, of hosting one single 2-minute Open video (unless my provider is merciful) £51.80 (€58.80; US$78.65)

My blog isn’t particularly high-traffic, although the post was also syndicated on Planet Mozilla. On the basis of the figures above, I assert that self-hosted video is a non-starter for most people. Big video sharing sites need to start supporting embeddable open video ASAP.

19 thoughts on “Why We Need Open Video Hosting

  1. Well, using h.264 you could have cut bandwidth in half at the same quality, but of course h.264 is the devil and the patent fees far outweigh network and storage costs, right? Right?

  2. @Meh “Well, using h.264 you could have cut bandwidth in half at the same quality”? Uh, where do you get that from. I’ve found OGG to be the same or smaller file size for the same bitrate. The quality is near enough the same, but I’ve generally found you can go lower on the bitrate (and therefore filesize) and get good enough quality out of Theora (if using 1.1+)

    Anyway, Gerv is very right. Without TinyVid.tv we have nowhere to actually host OGG video and embed using HTML5. Right now, even though YouTube &c. serve HTML5 video (H.264), you can’t embed HTML5 video in your own site—it’s Flash only.

    The world sorely needs an OGG video hosting service that allows remote embedding using HTML5. It would be a very good place to start if Mozilla could provide such a service for its bloggers. There’s no valid reason why Mozilla should be blogging about an open web and requiring only Flash/H.264 for me to view your videos about said open web.

  3. Nah, the exorbitant charges for excess bandwidth and bandwidth limits stuck in the previous century are the real problem. I had 1000 GB per month limit with 1&1.de until recently, now they stopped limiting bandwidth altogether. And looking at their price sheet, you get the same “unlimited bandwidth” with their “Homepage Basic” for €4 per month (or “Homepage Perfect” for €7 if you want PHP/MySQL). Their co.uk site also offers unlimited traffic for similar money and I am pretty certain that they aren’t the only ones to offer it.

  4. maybe we should pray for cheaper bandwidth*

    if you dont mind paying what you really want is a CDN, there are more then a few to choose from.

    maybe html 6 should include some p2p goodness.

    *sorry that was a cheap shot :p

  5. Thanks for sharing this Gerv. Being toying with the idea of building an open video hosting site… but the main motivation is to play with HTML5.

    Thanks again.

  6. The problem with “unlimited” bandwidth hosting is that such an offer masks the real limits, which are usually very difficult to find on their site. My host, flowinternet, who I do recommend for UK hosting switched to unlimited bandwidth (previously it was 100GB/Mo @ £4) but there have always been per-hour limits that prevent massive spikes. It was a real problem with Video for Everybody until Chris Double donated hosting on TinyVid.tv.

    I only host one OGG video on my site in a low-key place because I doubt I could handle a high-traffic video of any kind.

    It should be Mozilla, or the WikiMedia foundation who should be stepping forward to do this. You have the connections, nag them! :)

  7. Dreamhost has unlimited bandwidth hosting for $3/month. They can never charge you more than that. http://www.dreamhost.com/unlimited.html gives their usage policy, which would allow your use. If they decide you’re using too much bandwidth they can terminate your account, or ask you to upgrade, but they can’t raise your bill.

    The larger point, though, is: why do you think a “big video sharing site” can do better? Google claims that YouTube is still losing money, despite having every conceivable advantage in terms of cost and revenue. Pushing bits around is never free. Someone always has to pay for it.

  8. Ben: Some people have estimated YouTube’s bandwidth costs are minimal, as they are so big they just use peering agreements. But even if that’s not true, they can buy bandwidth in bulk, which I can’t. And serving videos is their business model.

  9. marcoos: thanks for the tip about VideoBin. I’ve just uploaded the video there and updated the original blog post with it. The download takes longer (throttled?) but it seems to work.

  10. I don’t know what your self-hosted version did, or whether you have a choice about autoplay on videobin or not, but it’s really annoying to open something in a background tab and have it suddenly start sending waves out of your computer’s speakers ;-)

  11. Well, the excessive cost of hosting isn’t surprising at all considering the fact that my browser downloads many megabytes of data each time I load this blog’s front page. Disabling autoplay would be a step in the right direction. Open video hosting would be nice, but the argument isn’t very convincing…

  12. Gerv, great observation about costs of self-hosted bandwidth. This would be an ideal scenario for the use of magnet-based, non-BitTorrent P2P. Shareaza’s G2,Opera’s Unity, AllPeers, and the upcoming FireCoral extension are suggestive of the direction an open solution could take. Anyone up for creating G2Tube??

  13. Dan: You are quite right; your video does look better.

    In response I would say that a) I just typed “ffmpeg2theora”; some careful consideration of options may well have produced a better result; b) it uses the Theora 1.0 encoder which ships with Ubuntu 9.10; everyone acknowledges that the 1.1 encoder is miles better; c) if the file had been half the size, I’d still have broken my bandwidth allowance, and d) I happily admit that I didn’t make the decision on technical grounds.

    If this discussion were all about which was technically better, then it might be different. But I want to promote video standards where the creativity of authors and the enjoyment of viewers doesn’t get taxed. At the moment, that’s Theora. In the future, it may be something else. But that desire is a constant.

    And I don’t think it’s inconsistent to make that decision, and then make the point that the technology or support for it could be improved! :-)

  14. Gee, I’d like something (lots of video hosting bandwidth) for nothing too! Unfortunately, TANSTAAFL. YouTube and network effects have unfortunately distanced lots of people from knowing what the real cost of video bandwidth is, and of how bandwidth on major video sites is actually purchased/subsidized.

    Less snarkily, something’s fishy about that hosting setup. On Dreamhost (I suppose I should insert a kickback link here, but I’m too lazy) my current monthly limit seems, if I’m reading the panel right, to be 10505GB, which is vastly more than is necessary to host one 25MB video, even if it gets viewed by many more than a few thousand people. Again from appearances, it looks like my bandwidth limit starts at 4096GB/month and increases by 40GB every week, so it’s not like a currently-confining limit would remain so for long. I’m not paying an arm and a leg for the account, either — $8/month as part of a two-year plan.

    So to me, the real question is: why does your hosting package offer less than 1% of the monthly bandwidth my hosting package offers, at rates which are presumably not less than 1% of my hosting rates?

  15. That bandwidth bill might’ve been slightly less had the video not mysteriously been getting reposted every day on Planet Mozilla.

  16. ant: That’s strange. I edited the post a few times (but without updating the date). Perhaps Planet Mozilla has a bug that it reposts things which get edited?

    Gerv