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YouTube vs. Vimeo: What’s the Difference?

YouTube vs. Vimeo: What’s the Difference?

Video undoubtedly rules the Internet. As we are entering a new year, a new decade, we can look at the change of video content perception throughout the time, and see how drastic it actually was. At the decade’s beginning video was treated more like an afterthought, in digital marketing world in particular, but it’s started to shift rather quickly as soon as it became obvious just how much use this type of content brings to brands and customers alike. 

Video marketing and video as a medium have evolved a lot through these years, so much that it’s now hard to imagine a major social network’s feed without video content, both in forms of entertainment and advertisement. What’s even more indicative of the ever-increasing importance of video, is the existence and continuous growth of dedicated video hosting and sharing sites, such as Vimeo and YouTube. 

Both platforms are the most popular video services among the general public but it’s rarely known what their differences are, besides the obvious gap in visitors count. What are Vimeo’s advantages that made it a worthy adversary of YouTube, one of the most popular websites in the world? How Vimeo and YouTube’s audiences are different? What’s better for your business? Let’s review both sites to help you figure out which one fits your needs best.

Audience Size and Range

As of 2019, 1.9 billion users visit YouTube monthly while only 1.7 million users watch videos on Vimeo every month. But nobody really needs these stats to know that YouTube is a clear winner in audience size, whether daily, monthly, or annually. After all, almost 80% of Internet users have an account on YouTube and it’s the second most used search engine in the world. Vimeo doesn’t really stand a chance here… but that depends on your perspective and goals. 

The chances to rank higher in searches and to be discovered in general, is naturally stronger if you choose YouTube to share your content. With 300 hours of video being uploaded every minute, your videos may not get as much attention and love as they deserve simply because of the amount of all types of other content. Enormously big community doesn’t necessarily mean you can easily reach a wide audience and sustain solid following since there are lots of not only the viewers, but also YouTube creators, your competitors.

Community Quality and Viewer Interaction

Vimeo is known for its rather ‘artsy’ content in comparison to YouTube and other video hosting services, and for its creative community. Though the number of creators and visitors on Vimeo is significantly smaller than on YouTube, the community there is tight, supportive and polite. Since the focus is more on artistry and creative work rather than on mere entertainment alone, Vimeo users usually leave friendly comments, start engaging conversations and share creative ideas.

Vimeo feels like home for filmmakers, musicians and other artists because of the strong relationships and small yet devoted communities that tend to build easier there than on YouTube.

YouTube, on the other hand, is less community-driven, though it relies a lot on the community’s engagement and reports to determine high and low quality content, and then ranks it accordingly. Once your videos get more traction and you start to receive comments, don’t get too ready for kind words and constructive feedback, and better prepare to regularly monitor the comments. Some creators even hire moderators or disable the comment section altogether just to leave out of the way the potential issue of harming the YouTube reputation by getting inappropriate comments and spam. YouTube’s gigantic viewer base grants more content traction but the engagement quality there leaves much to be desired.

Search Engine Optimization and Visibility

Vimeo is at a rather obvious disadvantage of YouTube here. As mentioned before, YouTube is the second largest search engine after its parent company, Google. The latter favors videos from YouTube over those from Vimeo, and this alone drives YouTube miles ahead in terms of SEO efficiency. Other than that, YouTube offers a variety of SEO tools to boost the content discoverability through keywords, key phrases, tags and categories that simply aren’t on Vimeo. 

Ads and Monetization

YouTube and Vimeo’s money making approaches are vastly different. Vimeo takes pride in being ad-free and instead earns money from monthly and yearly payment plans, whereas YouTube earns from their advertising. From a marketer’s point of view, the variety of YouTube advertising tools and ways to reach specific audiences, is of course great and beneficial, but from a viewer’s perspective… YouTube tends to get annoying pretty fast with its pre-roll, post-roll, overlay, and all kinds of other ads. These frequent interruptions and the need to wait and then interact with the video player to skip the ads often puts viewers off and they are likely to leave the page, taking the chance to gain new subscribers and increase the watch time metrics away from YouTube creators. Viewers are more likely to stick around to enjoy the content for longer on Vimeo, where no video is ever interrupted by an ad.

As for monetization, Vimeo again seems like a better option. Though YouTube creators can monetize their content, as of November 2019, YouTube has changed the Partner Program rules, essentially making it harder for creators to pass for the partnership. Instead of 10000 total views YouTube channels are now required to have 1000 subscribers and 4000 public watch hours over the last 12 months in order to be considered for monetization. With YouTube’s algorithm favoring monetized over non-monetized videos, creators now need a substantial following in order to stay visible and make money. 

Unlike YouTube, Vimeo empathizes with creators and seems to be well aware of the fact that they live off the revenue generated by their content. Even though creators have to acquire paid membership to use the Vimeo’s on-demand service, it generally pays off very well considering the supportive Vimeo community and high discoverability chances. Creators earn as much as 90% of all revenue collected via the on-demand that allows viewers rent and buy content from creators, thus supporting them directly. Depending on the size and loyalty of your online following, Vimeo is likely to prove more profitable than YouTube in the long run.

Video Quality

Vimeo became the first video sharing site to support high definition video in 2007. It’s been maintaining the high standards of video quality ever since, now supporting 1080p and 4K resolution. YouTube started to support 4K video 4 years earlier than Vimeo but at this day they both support the same quality and resolution options. Don’t forget that our team has created 4K Video Downloader specifically for saving video content in the best available quality from video sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo. With the downloader’s help, you can backup your YouTube channel and Vimeo catalogue or download videos, playlists and even entire channels of other creators in HD and Ultra HD.

Video Editing

Editing is a crucial part of video content creation, and the hosting services can make it significantly easier for creators if they provide video editing features. YouTube built-in editor offers all basic editing features and functionalities, plus allows adding links, annotations, captions and subtitles in different languages, as well as creating a new video out of your Google Photos, previously uploaded videos, title, and more. 

Vimeo has fewer editing options but still offers all the basics. It lets adding video title and description, tags, category, license, audience rating, captions and subtitles. However, Vimeo doesn’t support annotations like YouTube, making it impossible to include clickable links to your other videos. Though Vimeo offers a more limited set of editing tools, it has an advantage over YouTube in allowing to completely replace already existing video without having to change the video link or lose statistics. The feature is quite handy for adjusting the content after the upload while keeping the view count and URL.

Video Player Customization

Player customization comes in handy for embedding your YouTube or Vimeo videos elsewhere and match the color scheme of the site, show your logo on top of the image to protect exclusive content, etc. YouTube doesn’t offer much, only the possibility to make a channel logo and annotations pop up during play. Other than that, the player looks exactly the same after you embed it as it is on YouTube. Vimeo provides a variety of useful player customization options, including default settings creation for all videos, color selection on a hex color wheel to change how buttons and borders look, and a custom player logo upload option to watermark your content. 

Upload Limits

When it comes to hosting, YouTube is completely free and has no limits as to how much you can upload. There is, of course, YouTube Premium that allows watching videos without ads and view them offline, but it isn’t required for YuTube creators, businesses and regular users, since YouTube allows all registered users upload as many videos as they want daily, weekly, monthly and annually. At one point YouTube allowed uploading videos that were days long, but now there is a rule that the maximum video length shouldn’t be longer than 12 hours and individual files can’t be over 128GB. 

Vimeo, on the other hand, limits the upload by membership levels. Basic users can upload just 500MB of video per week, and 5GB of data total. Vimeo Plus subscribers can upload 5GB per week, and 250GB per year. Vimeo Pro subscribers are allowed to upload 20 GB weekly and 1TB annually. Business and Premium subscribers have no limits on weekly uploads, but cannot store more than 5TB and 7TB respectively.

Privacy Options

Both YouTube and Vimeo offer basic privacy filters so that creators can adjust who can see and watch the content. YouTube offers Unlisted and Private filters to limit who can view videos. Unlisted videos and playlists cannot be found through YouTube search and only available via link. Vimeo has a broader list of privacy options, including password protection and content invisibility on Vimeo with the ability to embed videos to other sites. 

Advanced Analytics

Vimeo has a powerful analytics tool but access to it is only granted for subscribers. Some information, such as the amount of video views is available for free users, but it isn’t enough for creators to analyze and improve their marketing strategy. YouTube, on the contrary, allows monitoring basic statistics and use advanced analytics to help creators evaluate the performance free of charge, and gives enough information to understand how the audience feels about your content, what topics make for videos with the best watch time metrics, etc.


YouTube and Vimeo are both great platforms with their own unique features, advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your needs and goals, one platform may be more suitable than the other. 

If you are a blogger or a small business owner who needs to make your content shown to the widest possible audience, YouTube’s better. Though it’s challenging to build a loyal fanbase on YouTube, no other platform can compare in the audience size and discoverability. 

If want to store and share your art, or to just upload videos to then embed videos to your site, Vimeo’s your choice. It’s interface already resembles an online art portfolio, offers a number of video player customization and privacy settings, all of which you can effectively utilize to ensure excellent viewing experience and content protection.

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