I work now for 1 month on an assignment for Minoto Video. It is a SaaS platform for video that can be used for easily placing video's on a website or to integrate it within an application by using the API. The goal is to be something like Heroku for video implementations.
In the short period I am working here, I have learned some things that I am going to sum up so I can reflect later on.
1. Raw Video file storage is not easy
Storing large volumes of video needs careful planning and strategy. You need to keep in mind that scaling form Terabytes to Petabytes and beyond is going to happen. Video file sizes are increasing constantly (couple of years a go, 320 pixel video's with a low bit rate where totally acceptable and now 1080p streaming video is the expected quality) while the need for different file formats (browsers and mobile devices support distinct formats like MP4, WebM etc.) These files need to be redundant and there needs to be a back up plan if some things go wrong.
2.VIdeo quality is subjective
What is better 1080p or 720P video? The essential and often forgotten question is: which bit rate, what are the quantization parameters and other technical stuff such as GOP size or i-Frames? The difference of 720p and 1080p video at same settings is almost impossible to perceive if you watch it on a 50" TV. Besides these technical difficulties, there is an other factor: The expectations and perception of video quality is rising every day because once the audience watched a certain quality, they refuse to experience less. In short, the term high quality or 1080p video does not say much about both the generated or the perceived quality.
3. Concurrency estimation of streaming video is really hard
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future said Niels Bohr. This is even more true if it is about video. Forecasting how much people are going to watch your video stream (for example an event) is even in a very broad range is almost impossible. What if 10 people are starting to watch but something happens and they Tweet about it. Suddenly there are hundreds of people watching it and snowball effect brings thousands of viewers. Reserving extra capacity on its own not a problem but if it tends to infinity, it's not something that you can do for yourself as a hobby without excessive costs.
4. There is a lot of competition in the video hosting vertical
There are around 30 companies that are trying to compete in this niche. Everyone tries to find the right market product fit by aligning, branding, focusing, differentiating on specific aspects. The industry is maturing and this is a really good thing. I also think that this competition is a good thing. It forces to be creative, it stimulates faster pace of innovation. Above all, it proves that there is a large enough market.
5. Video is not suitable for everything
if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail is especially true for video. While it is tempting to use it everywhere, sometimes there are just more appropriate formats for content. There are currently a lot of start ups that are trying to be the Instagram for video. I don't know if this is going to work because looking at photos and liking them is a whole other experience than having to watch video's. It is more time consuming to watch, it has a different usage moment and so on. At the other hand, some content is specifically suitable for video. I think in the coming years, we will see really creative implementations where we previously had not thought of.
6. The difference between a free video hosting like Youtube and a professional video hosting is still unknown
If you are not paying for it, you are the product being sold. This is absolutely not necessarily a bad thing if you consciously choose for it and know the consequences. Sites like Youtube are great (I use them personally every day) and it is even better because they are completely free. But they have a special purpose and terms to use. If you are for example a video producer and you don't want to share the rights (Youtube explicitly states that you retain all of your ownership rights however, you grant YouTube a very broad license too) and sometimes that can be a problem. Things like arrangements concerning service and quality can also be an issue. There are also a lot of technical limitations that sites like Youtube do not facilitate because they are not intended for it.