Brightcove is a web video publishing platform aimed at professional publishers that, according to Techcrunch, streams several hundred million videos a month. Its clients include large media brands like Showtime, Lifetime, HBO, the New York Times and AMC (you can watch Mad Men through their player on the AMC website). Brightcove is a paid service with prices starting at a few thousand dollars a year.
I have used Brightcove on random projects over the years and developed a love/hate relationship with the product.
On the positive side, it is definitely the most feature rich video publishing tool I’ve ever used. Among other features, Brightcove offer six different video players you can customize and allows you to quickly and easily set up custom video playlists and automatically serve lower quality versions of videos to people with slower Internet connections. It is the engine behind Barack Obama’s creative Barack TV section and AMC’s Mad Men user generated video contest. The feature set is truly impressive.
On the negative side, up until a few days ago Brightcove had one of the most maddening user interfaces I’ve ever used. Truly awful. Simply uploading and posting a video involved downloading a desktop client and then separately logging in to their web interface and going through more hoops. Simply uploading a video and getting the appropriate embed code took four steps when it really should be done in one motion. Assets, Titles, Lineups, Players. After spending probably thirty minutes a day in their interface for a month, I had basically gotten to the point where I could do what I needed to do but had in no way mastered the platform.
So when I logged into Brightcove on Tuesday and saw that they had completely overhauled their user interface I was not happy. It had taken a long time to get my bearings in the old interface and I had no interest in learning a new one, which I assumed would simply be confusing in different ways.
I was wrong. (View an overview of new interface on Techcrunch here.)
While not as easy-to-use as YouTube or Blip.tv, the Brightcove user interface has been streamlined dramatically while retaining the robust feature set that made the tool unique in the first place. Uploading a video no longer involves installing a desktop client and has been reduced to one step. All the value-added features are still there, but are quarantined from the upload process so that they don’t create static in the video upload process.
Basically you can now safely use Brightcove without having a Masters degree in Computer Science.
Would I now recommend Brightcove? It depends. For probably 95% of the clients I work for, I’d push them towards Blip.tv if YouTube isn’t cutting it. Blip allows for really high quality video, is relatively feature rich and costs less than Brightcove. Brightcove is overkill for most people. However, now that the user interface problem has been fixed, I would whole heartedly recommend Brightcove for the 5% of people that need a really high end web publishing solution.