Online web streaming is one of the most popular Internet activities. Whether you want to watch video from across the world, news recaps, TV shows, tutorials, or funny videos, you're guaranteed to find something you like at one of the top five video streaming websites.
The most popular video streaming website, YouTube, has thousands of videos on nearly every topic imaginable, all user submitted and free to watch. The videos are currently offered in widescreen format, though most videos uploaded retain the original 4:3 aspect ratio. In addition to widescreen, videos can now be uploaded and viewed in high quality.
Videos on Youtube are often short homemade movies, but many record labels are now releasing low-quality versions of their most popular music videos on the website. If you're looking for a recap of the latest sports game, news cast, or speech, Youtube is your best option.
Pros: Youtube offers: 16:9 aspect ratio; high quality video playback; support for nearly every video format; a large audience for your videos; the ability to embed videos on a blog or website; video reply feature; customizable personal video page; and the ability to limit video access.
Cons: While the website is wildly popular, it does have a few problems. There is an excess of spam comments; a video limit of 100MB; and only standard-quality videos can be embedded on blogs or websites.
Vimeo is a sophisticated, free video sharing website. Basic users are allowed to upload up to 500MB of video content per week, or pay for an account to upload more. Vimeo attracts a wide array of video artists, and is often used to upload short movies, skits, and portfolios.
The website supports full HD streaming and widescreen format, as well as a wide array of video codec support, making it the ideal location to watch and share high-quality and HD personal videos.
Pros: Vimeo has an easy-to-navigate interface; the ability to create and moderate video groups; high definition video support; up to 1GB video uploads for premium accounts; community forums; and an artistic user base.
Cons: Because Vimeo is so frequently used to upload large movie files, it can take over an hour to convert a single video.
Metacafe rocketed to popularity with their page view money earning system. Many videos on the website are duplicates from YouTube, but in addition to that content, there is a wide array of video tutorials on many subjects, including: DIY hacks; magic; and science experiments. If you're interested in making money off your video's page views, Metacafe is the ideal website to use.
Pros: Metacafe has a popular page view payment system, which allows users to be renumerated for their videos. In addition, videos can be downloaded with a link under the video or embedded on blogs or websites. The website has many high-quality tutorials.
Cons: Metacafe increased its video resolution, and many of the videos are now pixelated due to up-sampling. Many videos are clones from Youtube.
The first website to legally offer a wide array of free TV shows, Hulu was founded by NBC and offers dozens of free TV series - both current and off-air broadcasts. Some of the TV shows offered includes: The Simpsons, Family Guy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Bones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Office. Unfortunately, Fox and some other broadcasters have pulled some free shows from the list forcing you to upgrade to a paid version.
In addition to offering TV shows, Hulu also has a catalog of movies available to watch, including such popular shows as: Spy Game, Liar Liar, Ghostbusters, Men in Black, and The Karate Kid.
Pros: Hulu videos can be viewed in 360p for slower Internet connections. Popular clips are available for recent and popular TV shows and movies. New series are available, with new episodes appearing up to a week after being aired on cable. The website is completely free. Videos can be purchased and downloaded. A personal queue can be created for favorite content.
Cons: Videos can no longer be embedded in blogs and on websites; high definition video streaming is not available for most videos; and ads are displayed three or more times per video. Website is available to US residents only.
Veoh is a video content website, but has made a name for itself by partnering with different companies to offer TV shows for free. Offering TV shows not available from Hulu, you can watch popular shows such as: The Big Bang Theory, Friends, According to Jim, CSI, and Everwood.
In addition to a large supply of free TV shows, Veoh also offers user submitted content, including animations, home videos, and funny clips.
Pros: Videos stream in higher quality resolution. The original video files can be downloaded and saved to a hard drive for later viewing. User submitted content can be embedded in blogs and websites, shared directly with friends, and saved to a personal favorites list.
Cons: Commercial videos are only available for users located within the US.
More Streaming Site Options
For completeness here's a list I put together of over 40 additional streaming sites. If you can't find something you like here, you are not really trying :>)
- ABC.com: ABC, like NBC, now offers a wide array of streaming videos, including full episodes of their most popular TV shows
- Archaeologychannel.com: The Archeology Channel offers hours of free streaming video based on culture, humans, and archeology
- Archive.org: The National Archives streams footage of past events and old documentaries, including space documentaries from the '70s
- BigContact.com: Big Contact allows users to create their own channels, and offers several professional streaming channels for anyone to watch
- Blinkx.com: Boasting over 32 million hours of video footage
- Break.com: This video website is marketed towards men, and has a list of daily video picks on their homepage. The videos are outrageous, funny, and short
- BroadbandSports.com: Sports videos on all types can be found on Broadband Sports, including recaps, highlights, athlete videos, and personal sports videos
- Clipshack.com: This website features sort clips, recaps, and small videos of random content
- CollegeHumor.com: Their version of videos focuses mainly on the humorous end and focused toward the college demographic
- Comcast Xfinity: Comcast's fancast has been renamed to Comcast XFinity Videos. This shows a variety of free tv shows along with much content you have to be a subscriber to watch
- Crackle.com: More of an Indy/off beat TV shows and movie website, you can watch webshows and other shows you can't find on TV
- Current.com: Currently in Beta, this website has a wide array of modern video content, and is very similar to YouTube
- Dailymotion.com: Dailymotion is similar to Current TV, and offers a wide range of random video content
- DevilDucky.com: This website features favorite videos grabbed from many different sources and aggregated together. The website contains small videos, TV shows, movie trailers, news recaps, fan videos, and more
- DocumentaryStorm. "DocumentaryStorm is a website dedicated to free full-length documentaries gathered from all over the net. The main objective is to spread knowledge, index the thousands of educational videos on the internet and an all around freedom to investigate human ingenuity." With thanks to anonymous poster Harry for this suggestion :)
- Ifilm.com: A standard video streaming website
- Museum.tv: Docufest is an online video archive website with access to theater reenactments, historic video and radio streams, and interviews
- NBC.com: NBC now streams dozens of episodes for free, including Heroes, According to Jim, and the Biggest Loser
- Newgrounds.com: An awesome and high quality website featuring user submitted satire, animation, and humor videos
- Open-Video.org: This website is a 'shared digital video collection', and has lecture, documentary, educational, and historical videos, as well as others, for free streaming
- Ourmedia.org: Our Media lacks a professional site, but has dozens of channels to search
- Phanfare.com: Phanfare is a unique video sharing website, as it is meant to be used with an iPhone, and makes uploading, sharing, and viewing mobile videos easier than ever
- Revver.com: You'll find a wide array of content on Revver, most of it high quality and serious. There video base includes interviews, skits, product reviews, movie reviews, animations, and tutorials
- Sevenload.com: Sevenload is a sleek, professional-looking video streaming website with categories such as Music, DIY, Arts, and Politics
- SpeedyTV:User uploaded streaming videos and movies as well as sorted videos from other locations
- Starz Play: Starz Play is offered from Verizon, and allows users to stream hundreds of blockbuster movies and the Starz TV channel for $10 per month
- Stickam.com. Stickam is a twist on the modern video streaming site - you can browse hundreds of live streaming video feeds and interact with the other viewers via a chat box
- StreetFire.net: This website has thousands of videos, most of them dealing with cars in some way
- StupidVideos.com - As the name of the website suggests, don't expect to find enlightening videos here. However, if you're looking for some good laughs, there's nowhere better than Stupid Videos
- ThatVideoSite.com: This website pulls the most popular videos from a wide range of websites and lists them all on the homepage for your viewing pleasure
- The News Hour The PBS News Hour. miss an important news speak, coverage, or documentary? The News Hour has regular updates of free, streaming news coverage
- Trueveo.com: Trueveo streams content from dozens of different sites, including Hulu, Lifetime, and GQ
- TVDuck: Provides links to other Internet sources streaming movies and TV shows
- UStream.tv: UStream TV is another live streaming website, allowing users to chat with each other while watching and participating in live video streams
- VideoBomb.com: The website is a basic, bland video streaming site with random videos.
- Videosift.com: Video Sift works very similar to the popular website Digg. Users add videos, and other users 'sift' through them, pushing the good ones to the top, while the poor ones fall to the bottom
- vids.Myspace.com: Myspace TV offers a wide array of video content, including personal videos, vlogs, and TV recaps
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