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I am creating a site that has a paywall. Only registered users may view content, and as part of that content we are allowing upload and sharing of videos to other registered members. Currently I am leveraging YouTube to handle this, as they handle a whole bunch of things for us. Consequently for providing the free service, their embedded player has some light branding on the chrome.

My question is then, since users are paying for the site, is it unprofessional to use a freely available host like this? Currently we are not drawing attention to or from the player. Could it be spun on the upload page to be something like "we have partnered with media mogul YouTube to bring you fast and easy content delivery" which makes the branding make sense? Should we forego all that and set up our own video system to get a plain black player? Is there any kind of middle ground?

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This is perhaps a marketing/branding question more than anything. YouTube is certainly easy to use, so has usability points. But if paying for a service, and if the service's main purpose is just showing YouTube videos, that may tarnish the brand image a bit. (Also there's the technical problem with people easily being able to share the content that you are asking them to pay for...though that's obviously a benefit to the user) –  DA01 Jan 25 at 3:58
    
I can't advise strongly enough against using language like "partnered" to describe your relationship with YT. Pretty sure that could be grounds for litigation. Unless, of course, it's a true statement. –  Matt Langan Jan 25 at 13:56
    
@mattatmusiclist: great point, it's why I'm not a copywriter :) –  insta Jan 25 at 17:06

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the content is yours, then your users are paying extra for the extra content and I don't see any reason that someone will balk at some light YouTube branding. If you wanted to, maybe on the FAQ page you could have a "Why do we use YouTube?" if enough people ask about it, but I wouldn't even do that unless you're getting asked.

On the other hand, if you are being paid for the delivery of content (Netflix would be an example of this, if a bit extreme) then it would probably be viewed as unprofessional, since you'd be using a free service and then charging them for you using that free service.

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I don't understand how you can enforce the paywall if they can just look at your other uploaded videos? –  VoronoiPotato Jan 24 at 21:40
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I know YouTube and other video streaming providers offer a variety of privacy options. I was just trying to address the usability/experience aspect of the question, not the technical feasibility. –  Daniel Jan 24 at 21:50
    
@VoronoiPotato: Daniel has it right -- we are using the unlisted feature of YouTube currently to keep the videos casually hidden. I'm not going to delude myself that they can't be ripped and shared, as that's not a problem specific to Youtube. –  insta Jan 24 at 23:09

The player branding is not an issue. YouTube advertisements are.

Unless you're using a YT plan that eliminates ads then this would be something I would find inappropriate as a user (When I pay for online video I expect it to be ad-free - that's a significant part of a freemium media model IMO). If you're on a YT plan that keeps your content pure then I'd say the YT player is all good. Otherwise you might look at a video hosting & management provider called Wistia.

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To pay for content and receive ads with it is somewhat of an affront. Also, to charge money for something that is free through other sources is unusual - why should people pay for it? Maybe you can get away with it, but it is not the normal business model on the net.

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I never said we'd be showing ads. From what I can tell, ads are enabled because of a setting enabled by the uploader, and we've disabled the setting programmatically. –  insta Jan 27 at 14:08

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