Video on demand (VOD) content is all the rage these days, and publishers are scrambling to capitalize on growing demand. We’ve seen monolithic VOD platforms like Netflix and Hulu invest millions into their services while brand-new competitors like Disney+ and Peacock have joined the fray in recent years.
Despite the presence of companies that seem to have a monopoly on video streaming services, it’s still a relatively young market that’s begging for new offerings and revolutionary services.
54% of consumers want to see more video content from brands and businesses they follow, meaning every company needs to become a video company to engage its audience in the modern digital world. Whether you’re building the next online streaming service or providing video content for a local niche, you need a VOD platform to host your content and support your offerings.
Fortunately, you have plenty of options when it comes to VOD platforms. The hardest part is sifting through the prospects and finding the right solution for your business. We’ve done the hard work for you by compiling a list of the best VOD platforms for delivering video on demand content in 2023.
Below, we’ll walk you through a brief overview of each solution with important pros and cons to consider. First, let’s get on the same page by discussing what a VOD platform provider is, how it works, its benefits, and which businesses need one.
What Is VOD?
Video on demand is content you can watch whenever you want (whenever you “demand” it). For example, you can turn on Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu and begin streaming thousands of different videos and creators.
Unlike cable television or live streaming, you don’t have to wait for VOD content. It’s always there, ready for you to stream through your mobile device, computer, tablet, or smart TV.
Providers offer different ways for you to consume VOD, and that’s typically through the following monetization models:
- Advertising video on demand (AVOD)
- Subscription video on demand (SVOD)
- Transactional video on demand (TVOD)
You can watch videos for free on YouTube, but you’ll have to watch advertisements before and during your videos to consume the content. Netflix doesn’t require you to watch advertisements (yet), but you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to access their catalog of movies and shows. And then you have services like Amazon Prime that provide pay-per-view content you can rent or purchase.
VOD content isn’t just limited to the entertainment or publishing industry. Everyone from tech companies to marketing teams can use VOD to promote their services, spread brand awareness, and sell their products. For example, you might use a VOD platform to host customer testimonials or product tutorials. Or you may use a VOD platform for employee onboarding and training.
What is a VOD Platform?
A VOD platform provides all the built-in features you need to host, manage, and deliver video content. These platforms give you the building blocks for uploading and organizing your videos, and they have the APIs and SDKs you need to stream your videos to mobile applications, websites, over-the-top (OTT) apps, or smart TVs.
Most VOD platforms come with a dedicated HTML5 player that you can customize to your branding to offer a personalized experience wherever your audience engages with your content. You’ll also find live-streaming functionality, monetization tools, data protection technology, and integrations to connect your VOD platform with other tools like your customer relationship management (CRM) platform or data analytics suite.
How Does a VOD Platform Work?
It’s not all about features, though. All in all, it’s about performance and customer experience.
Your customers want to be able to open an app, find the content they want to watch, click it, and enjoy a buffer-free streaming experience. That’s it.
While that might seem simple enough, there’s a lot of complexity that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. For example, your VOD platform performs the following functions to enable smooth, streamlined experiences:
- Encode and Transcode: Convert your raw video files into a digital format compatible with your viewer’s application or hardware. VOD platforms transcode your videos into a variety of formats to ensure a smooth playback across devices and bandwidths.
- Encryption: Protect your content to ensure only those who pay get access to your content, reducing stealing and illegal distribution.
- Hosting: Your own servers likely don’t have the power and bandwidth to support thousands of pieces of content being consumed by thousands (or millions) of simultaneous viewers. That’s where a VOD platform comes in handy.
- Delivery: VOD platforms provide content delivery networks (CDNs) with points of presence (POPs) in dozens of locations worldwide to provide top-notch performance wherever your audience consumes your videos.
- Advertisements: VOD platforms empower you to add advertisements to your videos and get paid when viewers watch them, regardless of if that’s on a mobile device, desktop, or TV.
Top Benefits of a VOD Platform
VOD platforms are a non-negotiable for any business serious about creating, distributing, and monetizing video content. While you can build a solution on your own, it’s going to be time-intensive and require heavy developer resources. It’s possible, but you’ll typically save money and gain higher functionality (faster) by opting for an established VOD platform.
Here are a few of the benefits of using a VOD platform to host your content:
- Distribution: VOD platforms have multi-CDN solutions that enable you to distribute content to your audiences all over the world.
- Reliability: VOD platforms’ CDNs have fail-safes in place to ensure your viewers don’t experience latency or downtime when a single server crashes.
- Security: Most VOD platforms provide data rights management (DRM) technology to ensure your copyright material isn’t stolen, misused, or illegally modified.
- Compatibility: Ensure high-quality playback on various devices, browsers, applications, and bandwidths.
- Scale: Grow your video library and audience from one to thousands without worrying about disruptions or server infrastructure.
- Ease of Use: You need user-friendly tools that are easy to navigate and simple for your viewers to learn.
- Integrations: Connect your video content with your entire tech stack for transferring and updating data.
- Analytics: Track your user’s engagement metrics to inform your future content creation strategy.
- Features: VOD platforms pack your videos with interactive and engaging features, such as sharing, captions, rewinding and fast forwarding, and clickable links.
Who Needs a VOD Platform?
Any company that’s serious about video content should invest in a video on demand platform. With so many solutions to choose from (including free to paid), it’s never too early to start using a VOD platform to host, organize, and distribute your videos.
While any business that uses video content could benefit from a VOD platform, the following industries can’t live without one:
- Broadcast: Consumers are turning away from cable and satellite, leading broadcaster to take their content online and on demand.
- Enterprise: Show highlights and replays from your conferences and webinars to repurpose content and spread awareness.
- Publishing: Media companies, content creators, and influencers can use video on demand to grow their audience, sell products, and build their brands.
- Events: Livestream and then replay on demand sports, musical festivals, interviews, and concerts to benefit from an in-real-life (IRL) and remote audience.
- Fitness: Create everything from spinning classes to yoga courses that your audience can watch on their own schedule.
- Gaming: Replay highlights and top plays from your live-streamed performance to juice everything you can from your content.
- Faith: Let viewers watch sermons and scripture studies classes whenever and wherever they want.
- Retail: Sell products to your customers through reviews, demonstrations, unboxings, and product demos.
- Education: Schools and education companies can create additional learning opportunities by hosting their classes (and even complete degrees) in an on-demand format.
VOD Platform Features to Look For
Every VOD platform provides unique features and functionality that make it more appropriate for certain businesses. However, more features aren’t necessarily better. Instead, focus on the features that are essential for your business to operate.
For businesses looking to use VOD as a brand awareness or marketing tool, monetization options will be less important. They’ll be more interested in white-label solutions and engagement features. Other businesses that want a single comprehensive solution might not want just a VOD platform, but they might want it to include livestreaming, too.
Here are a few important features to consider when choosing a VOD platform:
- Customization: Consider how many personalization options you’d like. Some platforms will let you adjust everything from the logos to the colors and fonts, while others might limit you to their branded player.
- Monetization: Determine how you’d like to monetize your content. Some platforms specialize in subscription models, while others focus on advertisements. Think long-term to ensure you don’t need to change platforms later if you want to expand your options.
- Video CMS: Think about your VOD platform’s video content management system (CMS). This will determine how easy it is to organize, label, and search for videos, and it’s a critical element of the user experience.
- Transcoding: Ensure your VOD platform comes with a built-in encoder to take one more step out of the uploading and delivery process.
- Embedding: Choose where you want your content to live. Some platforms will only let you embed your content on web pages, while others will give you the developer keys you need to embed your videos within mobile applications, websites, and smart TV apps.
- Live Streaming: Invest in a VOD platform that also enables livestreaming. Often, you’ll repurpose live-streamed videos into on demand content—so it’s smoother if you have an all-in-one platform that’ll do that for you.
- Engagement: VOD platforms can help keep your audience engaged and consuming more content with tailor-made engagement features. For example, JW Player uses Article Matching and personalized Recommendations to maximize viewing sessions and increase your ad revenue.
13 Best VOD Platforms for 2023
Each VOD platform has pros and cons that make it a better solution depending on your business and its content. Some provide freemium models, while others deliver advanced functionality and performance in exchange for a monthly subscription.
Not every option on this list will be right for you, and that’s OK—you just need to find one platform that’ll get the job done and keep you within your budget. Below, we’ll walk you through our favorite VOD platforms and detail what makes them special in today’s market.
1. JW Player
JW Player is a complete video platform with all the built-in features you need to upload, host, organize, deliver, and monetize your video content. We use a multi-CDN approach with POPs in 130+ countries to ensure top-notch performance and buffer-free streaming regardless of where your audience consumes your content.
We provide you with APIs and SDKs to build your VOD services across web players, mobile devices (Android and iOS), OTT apps, social media platforms, and smart TV applications. You can customize the player to create a branded and cohesive viewing experience.
JW Player lets you monetize your content through robust advertising integrations, subscriptions, or transactions—you choose. Connect your VOD to your tech stack to ensure everything from your CRM tool to your Google Analytics is synced and sharing real-time data.
- Monetize through AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD
- Affordable solution for startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses
- HTML5 video player
- Robust APIs and SDKs
- Flexible customization options
- Setup takes a bit of a learning curve
- No audio-only or podcasting solutions
YouTube is one of the most popular online video streaming platforms. It’s easy to use, and the content ranks exceptionally well in Google searches, making videos on the platform easier to find for new users. New users can get an account and start sharing videos in no time, but gaining a brand-new following with all the competition is challenging.
YouTube has livestreaming functionality, and it also has basic engagement features like clickable links. While the platform has dabbled in SVOD models, it mostly relies on AVOD tactics to generate revenue.
YouTube’s publishing features are a bit limited, and you won’t have the freedom to embed videos wherever you’d like with APIs and SDKs. Additionally, you have no control over your player’s branding, and YouTube will often recommend your competitor’s content next to and after your videos.
The biggest disadvantage of using YouTube is that you lack control over your content and audience. YouTube has the right to censor your content, and they can ban your account if they find you in violation of their terms of service. That means you might lose access to the following that you’ve invested in building with little notice.
- Massive audience on the platform
- One of the oldest (and most popular) video streaming sites
- Easy to use
- YouTube advertises competitor content next to your videos and after your content finishes
- YouTube can censor your content and ban your account if they believe you violated the terms of service
Brightcove is an enterprise-quality VOD platform that specializes in advertising and marketing content. It provides encoding, live streaming, video on demand, and integrations for delivering your content on websites and applications. It has an excellent reputation for being user-friendly and easy to set up, and most users love its organizational tools.
Brightcove is one of the oldest VOD platforms, giving it plenty of time to polish its features and offerings. The platform provides robust advertising tools and excellent user engagement analytics. It also empowers you to engage your audience with interactive experiences like in-video quizzes, shopping, and adventure paths.
- Strong user engagement analytics
- Reliable performance and security
- Easy to use
- Users on G2 complained about the dated user interface
- Some users on G2 complained about Brightcove’s processing time
Vidyard is a marketing-focused video on demand platform. It empowers your business with lead generation and engagement tools, including advanced video analytics, built-in SEO optimization recommendations, and email capture features.
Users can easily upload videos from their webcam feed, a screen recording, or a combination of both. You can customize the on-screen business logos and player to act as a brand-building part of your video campaigns.
Since the platform mostly focuses on marketing, you won’t be able to monetize your content with advertisements or subscriptions. Instead, use Vidyard if you want to promote your products and services, drive more leads, and grow brand awareness.
- No bandwidth caps
- Unlimited uploads
- Excellent lead generation and engagement tools
- Advanced analytics
- A few users on G2 complained about Vidyard’s complex backend
- Some users on G2 had an issue with third-party integrations
Wistia is another marketing-focused VOD platform, but it emphasizes customization and player branding more. You can personalize practically every player element to give it an on-brand experience wherever you deliver your content, whether on a mobile application or a webpage.
The VOD platform provides top-notch analytics and audience data, empowering you to better target your users and create better-performing content, thumbnails, and calls to action (CTAs). Wistia even provides A/B testing features to optimize your videos for improved engagement.
Wistia also includes podcast hosting, allowing you to publish audio-only content on your platform. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for video and podcast streaming, Wistia is one of your best options.
- Provides podcast hosting
- Advanced customization features
- A/B testing functionality
- Some users on G2 complained bout Wistia’s high pricing
- Users want Wistia to add more integrations with third-party applications
Dacast is one of the leading video on demand platforms. It provides professional-level broadcasting with top-notch delivery and performance. Dacast uses a robust CDN network to reliably deliver content around the globe, ensuring smooth playback regardless of where your audience lives.
Dacast also provides live-streaming functionality, adaptive bitrate streaming, and comprehensive analytics. You can monetize your content with AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD models and use the platform’s APIs to build video content into practically any application or webpage. The platform has an excellent reputation for providing 24/7 technical support.
- Extensive CDN network
- 24/7 technical support
- AVOD, SVOD, and TVOD monetization
- Some users on G2 had an issue with Dacast’s APIs
- A few users on G2 complained about bandwidth and streaming problems
Kaltura is an open-source VOD platform that specializes in hosting and delivering educational content. Users get access to learning features like lecture capture, campus portal, virtual classrooms, and webinar sessions. It integrates with your CMS to simplify organizing your classes and seminars into easy-to-navigate courses and playlists.
Businesses can customize their video player’s branding, colors, and on-screen features for a truly tailor-made experience. A strong developer community has also loaded the platform with custom integrations and add-on features, letting you build a video solution to satisfy your audience’s needs.
However, all this flexibility and open-source roots come with a price. Kaltura can be difficult to set up, and you’ll likely need extensive developer resources to build the exact experience you want.
- Educational engagement tools and features
- Open-sourced solution
- Engaged developer community
- Rich personalization options
- Many users on G2 complained about Kaltura’s complexities and learning curve
- Some users on G2 found that Kaltura doesn’t perform well on tablets
Vimeo is a well-rounded VOD platform for hosting a variety of content. You can use it for repurposing webinars or video hosting marketing content, or you can even lock your content behind a subscription model to monetize entertainment or educational videos. Vimeo has a relatively simple and easy-to-use CMS that works great for small creators, but it doesn’t provide all the advanced features and functionality that larger businesses and video companies need.
Vimeo’s platform has a massive user base, which can help new users discover your brand. It also gives you more control over your player’s branding than other platforms like YouTube.
- Free tier
- Access to a larger audience
- Customization of the video player’s branding
- SVOD and TVOD monetization options
- A few users on G2 complained about the outdated live-streaming features
- Some users found Vimeo’s tools to be unintuitive
Uscreen is an end-to-end VOD platform with all the built-in features you need to upload, deliver, and monetize your content. The APIs let you customize the player to your branding, and community engagement features let your users build avatars and profiles for live chat and commenting capabilities.
While Uscreen focuses on the learning community, its solution also works perfectly for the fitness, faith, and entertainment industries. The CMS works perfectly to update videos across applications and webpages, and comprehensive analytics give you detailed insights into user engagement.
Uscreen provides plenty of monetization opportunities. You can use subscriptions, lifetime access, rentals, and pay-per-view pricing options to monetize your video content.
- End-to-end VOD platform
- Extensive APIs and customization options
- Rich monetization options
- Some users on G2 wish the platform was more user-friendly
- A few users on G2 commented that they want to see more third-party integrations
Wowza is a VOD platform that focuses on live streaming, broadcasting, and stream embedding. Developers love this tool thanks to robust APIs, SDKs, and GitHub repositories, enabling them to build custom solutions on any mobile app, OTT app, or webpage.
Wowza offers built-in transcoding and adaptive bitrate streaming to provide high-quality buffer-free streaming to your audience. It’s a secure platform with automated source code reviews and third-party penetration testing.
- Robust developer tools and resources
- Feature-rich live streaming and stream embedding
- Built-in transcoding and adaptive bitrate streaming
- Some users on G2 complained about the customer support
- Users on G2 don’t like having to upgrade to a higher tier to access better support
VPlayed is a VOD platform with high-end features, security, monetization models, and customization options. Businesses can personalize just about every aspect of the video player, and the platform provides audio-only and video content solutions. VPlayed’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) player uses multi-bitrate technology to boost video performance and quality.
The platform provides top-notch security with leading DRM practices and AES encryption. VPlayed’s CMS allows you to upload unlimited videos at any time with encoding to provide excellent playback regardless of your audience’s bandwidth. VPlayed boasts six different video monetization offerings and has several third-party integrations for connecting your VOD platform with your analytics and CRM tools.
- High-end security features
- Customizable player
- High-performance HLS player
- Six different monetization offerings
- Users on SaaSworthy complained about minor glitches
- Users on SaaSworthy want the pricing to be more transparent
Muvi’s VOD streaming platform provides a comprehensive white-label experience for your videos, giving you a domain name and personalized player branding. Muvi also provides an audio-only streaming option, making it a great platform for building a podcast or offering music streaming options.
Muvi’s primary competitive offering is ease of use. It’s a turnkey solution that’s quick and simple to get up and running, especially for businesses brand-new to video platforms or those that lack developer resources.
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t require technical know-how
- Comprehensive white-label product
- Fast deployment
- A few users on G2 wish Muvi provided more pre-built templates
- Some users on G2 complained that the free trial doesn’t offer enough features to test the platform
13. IBM Cloud Video
IBM Cloud Video provides a live streaming and video on demand content platform. It’s an enterprise solution built for live streaming video campaigns to generate sales and leads. It has built-in features for various monetization models, including advertisements.
IBM Cloud Video uses artificial intelligence to generate real-time transcriptions immediately available for indexing. The company has strong technical support for helping businesses set up their platform for long-term success and day-to-day troubleshooting issues.
- AI-generated transcriptions
- Strong technical customer support
- Robust live-streaming features
- Some users on G2 complained about the expensive pricing
- A few users on G2 complained about slow download speed
How to Choose the Right VOD Platform for Your Content
While we’ve provided you with over a dozen platforms, not every VOD solution will fit your business. Some will be overly complex, while others might deliver enterprise quality for enterprise budgets.
You’ll be tempted to create a feature comparison list or dig deep into the rabbit hole of reviews to see which has the highest ratings. This will reveal some answers, but they don’t tell the whole story. Ultimately, you don’t need more features—you need the right features.
To help you narrow down your search, focus on these VOD platform elements:
Think about what features you need from your VOD platform. Do you want livestreaming functionality? What about built-in engagement features like lead generation forms or quizzes? Do you want to customize your player’s colors and branding?
You don’t need a platform with the most features—those tend to cost the most, too. Instead, focus on finding a platform with the must-have features you need to upload, deliver, and monetize your content. Everything beyond that is fluff you’ll still be paying for, even if you’re not using it.
Consider your long-term goals. While live-streaming might not be a priority now, it could be something you plan to pursue in the next year or two. And what about podcasting? Do you plan on doing any audio-only content, or do you already use another platform for that?
Keep performance at the top of your list. It doesn’t what features or industry-low price a platform delivers if it creates a terrible experience for your end users. Your viewers should be able to watch high-quality streams and broadcasts (preferably in high-definition and 4K) without sacrificing performance.
While you can look at reviews to see others’ experiences, you’ll gain the most insights by trying it yourself. Sign up for free trials of the products you’re considering to get hands-on experience with the products. See how they perform with high-resolution content and test what the content will look like on a poor internet connection.
Choose a VOD platform with a content delivery network you can trust. Single servers can fail, and you need a solution that’ll provide reliable uptime even during one-off natural disasters or cybersecurity threats.
Look for platforms that use a multi-CDN approach. These have better performance, uptime, and security at scale, empowering you to stream your content across the globe with confidence.
If video content is the lifeblood of your business, you need to ensure it’s protected with industry-leading technology and best practices. Find a VOD platform that prioritizes data rights management. Look for a solution that provides the following:
- Blocks: Prevents users from screenshotting, screengrabbing, or sharing your content.
- User limits: Restrict how many users, devices, IP addresses, or locations can simultaneously access your content.
- Expiration dates: Limit the number of times or amount of hours a user can access your content.
- Watermarks: Embed watermarks into your videos to verify ownership and prevent redistribution.
- Geographic fences: Choose which geographic locations get access to your content.
- Content monitoring: Alert your team when there’s a breach that needs addressing.
Ultimately, the point of your content is to make money. That might be through product sales or lead generation, or it might be through in-stream advertisements or subscription-locked content. Regardless, do your research to ensure the platform you choose provides the built-in monetization features you need to maximize your income.
Some platforms specialize in advertisements, while others provide more options for rental or purchasing content. While most platforms will have third-party integrations with applications that unlock this functionality, it’s better to find a platform purpose-made for the monetization methods you plan to use.
Getting someone to view your content is just the beginning. Once you have their attention, it’s time to attract them to other pieces of content to increase your revenue per session or boost the chances they’ll subscribe to your content. Find a platform that prioritizes engagement with unique features and offerings.
You might engage your audience with curated playlists or personalized video recommendations, or you might do it through in-video quizzes and choose-your-own-adventure features. Think about your audience and what would keep them engaged, and then find a platform to support your engagement strategy.
Some VOD platforms on our list provide free options, while others demand hefty monthly subscriptions. Do your research to find the estimated pricing before you get too invested in a platform. You’ll find some platforms offer transparent pricing, and others require you to reach out to the sales team to get a customized quote.
Submit your quotes as soon as possible so that you can create a more apples-to-apples comparison.
Choose JW Player for a Complete Video Platform Solution
JW Player is more than just a VOD platform—it’s an end-to-end video solution with all the features you need to scale your business and content demands. Whether you’re just getting started in the world of video or looking for a partner to reliably grow with your business, we have the infrastructure you need.
Beyond video on demand services and livestreaming, our platform is purpose-built to help your video content connect and engage with your audiences:
- Play: Use our HTML5 video player to deliver top-notch viewing experiences across your mobile apps, websites, or smart TVs.
- Stream: Deliver high-end quality video experiences with low-latency, buffer-free performance.
- Monetize: Maximize your fill rate and CPMs to earn more from every viewer and subscriber.
- Engage: Keep your audience watching your content by capturing their attention with engagement features like Article Matching and Recommendations.
Want to get hands-on experience with JW Player? Sign up for our free 30-day trial to gain access to the following:
- Full API and SDK access
- All features (except for livestreaming)
- 25GB hosting and 75GB streaming
- 15,000 plays
- Player customization
- Video CMS
- Detailed analytics