Reviews of Video Sharing Scripts
By Dave Owen, August 2008
PLEASE READ THIS: In August 2008 I set about finding the best video and media sharing scripts available. I was looking for both fully-featured solutions for big budgets as well as practical options for those without budgets. The results of my initial efforts are shown below along with a few updates, but I have since abandoned using video sharing scripts altogether. This is because none of them really delivered the level of versatility and reliability that I wanted. I've now gone back to YouTube. I have left this page here as an archived reference resource — I WILL NOT BE UPDATING THIS PAGE AGAIN SO PLEASE DON'T ASK!
- I haven't ranked the scripts in any order or given them a "star rating". Instead I've tried to provide enough information for you to rank them according to your own needs.
- Every reviewed script comes with support for member login, ratings, profiles, and other social network features. The exact features obviously vary.
- To operate a video sharing website, your server needs to have some specific features that are not normally offered by web hosts—you'll need to check this out. If you're serious, you should definitely consider a dedicated server or VPS. Feel free to ask in our forum for help (but do try and research it yourself first). Most of the scripts below also offer installation services and support.
- Prices are in $USD.
Price: Free, paid options available.
Features: Not as strong as others but developing well.
Integration: SMF forum (vBulletin under development).
Media player(s): JW Player
Potential problems: Security may not be as tight as some others.
PHPMotion is a free, open-source project with a solid fan base. The website is (mostly) well-designed and the support forum is good. The whole thing does feel a bit "ad-hoc" but that's not uncommon with open-source projects. The demo requires registration, and then you have to wait a long time for uploaded videos to be approved, so my initial experience was a little frustrating. That's free OSS I guess.
The overall impression was that of a decent enough application. Everything seems to work okay. My main concern is that a number of important features are lacking, such as SEO-friendly URLs and integration with popular forum scripts. A lot of what I need is still under development.
As you'd expect, "mods" (code modifications contributed by other users) are available but this is something I strongly recommend against. Unless you actually enjoy working with mods, in the long run it's just a hassle you really don't need.
If you're looking for a serious video solution you'll probably need to spend some money removing the branding and adding plugins. This isn't really a "100% free" script in my opinion, but I do like the way the free/paid options are structured.
One comment I have seen about this script is that the security isn't great. I can't back that up though—hopefully I'll be able to clarify the situation soon.
PHPMotion is often described as a good entry-level video sharing script. Maybe it deserves slightly more credit than that but there's no doubt that other scripts have more features. The key question is how long it will take this script to reach the point where most missing features are minor. In my opinion it's worth a punt. Development is looking good and if you can cope with the missing features for now, you'll probably find that the situation improves over the next couple of years.
Price: Lite: $99, Pro: $199. Additional paid options (e.g. installation, rebranding, more templates). Overall quite expensive.
Features: Very good feature set—this is a strong point in their favor.
Integration: ? Only via mods
Media player(s): Clip-Share (new version coming soon)
Potential problems: Support (see below)
Clip-Share is often referred to as the best video sharing script available. I'm not sure how accurate that opinion is because there have been some important recent developments by other companies, but in any case Clip-Share does have a strong history and impressive feature set. I tested the demo just after I'd finished testing PHPMotion, and this one did feel somewhat slicker. As an end user I immediately noticed a number of things that PHPMotion didn't have, but to be honest, nothing that actually made a lot of difference. It was better but not by a huge margin.
As an administrator I could see a few more benefits, especially multi-server support. Clip-Share has quite a few features in place that PHPMotion requires a mod for.
Opinions are divided on the quality of support—I've seen a lot more complaints about this company than any other. The Clip-Share forum is riddled with messages by disgruntled customers complaining of long delays, broken promises and general dissatisfaction. To be fair, it is natural for popular products to generate more complaints and I've also seen plenty of positive comments about Clip-Share's support. Still, there's a definite problem here—even if it's just a problem of perception.
As for the usefulness of the support forum, it's okay but you have to be a paid-up customer to read the important stuff. This makes it harder to evaluate the product (I always like to check the troubleshooting forum before purchase). Once you do purchase, you may find the mysterious "private forums" aren't as full of useful information as you'd hoped. There is also a lot of unchecked spam throughout the forum, which is very sloppy indeed.
On the whole Clip-Share seems to be holding its place as one of the most well-established and feature-rich scripts on the market. I'm not convinced that this position is safe, however, as other companies are catching up fast.
Side note: The "showcase clients" section lists only three websites, two of which are hard-core adult content (the third one is GodTube.com!). This is a bad look in my opinion.
Price: Free, additional paid options (e.g. installation, brand-removal, adult content licence).
Features: Lots of options for viewing, profiles, channels, etc. Also SEO URLs, Editor's Pick.
Media player(s): Clip-bucket, JW Player, YouTube.
Potential problems: Not much company history—take on trust. I also don't think the exact YouTube clone template is a good idea (it's tacky and possibly illegal).
Clip Bucket seems to be the dark horse of the race. It's quite new to the scene and has taken many people by surprise. It's very feature-rich for a new offering and has attracted lots of rave reviews. The script was written by Jahanzeb and Arslan Hassan from Pakistan. Unfortunately the fact that English is their second language shows—you can understand what they're saying (both in their website copy and forum messages) but the grammar is generally very poor. It's hard to read and not a good first impression. Still, there's no reason to think the script itself is similarly flawed.
Interestingly, some commentators have shown suspicion about the script. It's quite unusual for previously unheard-of script authors to include so many features in a new product, leading some to wonder where all the code came from. Jahanzeb and Arslan have pulled off quite an amazing feat by including features that other companies took years to develop. Of course, the code is open source so anyone is free to investigate. I also noticed Arslan accusing others of pinching his ideas (he's especially protective of the "Editor's Pick" innovation). I'm not sure what the real story is but I'll add one thing.... The copy on this page appears to have been copied verbatim from this page at Rayyz.net (their competition). I intend to clarify this situation but it looks bad for the Hassan brothers.
The support forum is active and friendly.
Side note: At the time this product was launched someone spammed a lot of forums promoting it. This is a pet peeve of mine.
Price: Starts at $249, but can get very expensive.
Features: Multiple media types, extended social networking options.
Media player(s): Agriya
Integration: vBulletin, PHPBB
Potential problems: Some users report delays in installation and support.
This is much more than a video-sharing script—it includes photos, audio, files, articles, games, blogs and plenty of social network features. It's expensive because it's serious. A good range of templates are available (for a price). The media player is functional enough but not very pretty. This is the first script I've seen that even mentions streaming video (as opposed to progressive download), but it's still under development.
If you're looking for a more comprehensive social networking platform, this could be it. If you don't need all these features, you're probably better off with one of the specialist video solutions.
This product hails from India and the grammar on the website isn't perfect. At times it's awkward to read, but it's better than many others from the same region. The support forum is passable but there isn't as much support or general activity as some of the others.
These scripts have not been reviewed yet, but from my initial research I consider them unlikely contenders.
- Attachmax - More of a general file-sharing solution.
- osTube - This actually looks promising but it's hard to research because most of the information is in German. Worth a look, I'll get back to this one.
- PHPmelody - Music video manager.
Scripts to Avoid
And finally, some scripts you should not consider...
- AlstraSoft Video Share Enterprise - Best known for products that don't work at all, followed by non-existant support.
- MediaMax Script - Rebranding of Video Watch Pro, widely criticized for poor customer support.
- VShare - Cheap but offers nothing new. Uses encrypted code which some have claimed is stolen.
To be honest I'm disappointed. While some of the free options seem adequate for the lower-end market, there is a noticeable absence of convincing leaders at the top. Rayzz probably comes closest but I just can't be confident about it. I wanted to find a solution as big and powerful as vBulletin is for the forum market, but I came away empty-handed. Now the big question is: Do I take a gamble and commit everything to Rayzz or Clip-Share, or do I bet that one of the up-and-comers like PHPMotion or Clip-Bucket will mature and prosper?
LAST UPDATE: As mentioned at the top of the page, I gave up and went back to third-party solutions such as YouTube.