The Best 360 Video Platform for You: Battle of the Socials
Ever since the dawn of VR – not all that long ago – 360’s been the talented young upstart, coming up hard on its sibling’s heels. Whether you’re watching a live football final being streamed in full 360 HD or your tech-savvy mate’s 360º holiday video, there’s no denying 360 content is now very much in the mainstream. But with so many 360 video platforms out there, all with different and distinct benefits, how do you work out which VR video platform is for you?
We’ve put together a little write-up on each of the platform leaders, to help you make your way through the virtual landscape and come out the other side with an experience to make even the most seasoned 360 aficionados weep.
We’re starting strong with a social media favourite. Ever since Facebook launched the option for 360 videos back in 2015, everyone’s been eager to jump on the virtual bandwagon. But how does it stack up against the new kids on the block? If you’re all about getting the most exposure from your 360 experience, Facebook wins hands down. In 2016, Facebook had a staggering 1.86 billion monthly active users – that’s an awful lot of potential audience for your 360 content.
You’ll get the option to stream your 360 delights in up to 4K and Facebook is one of only two in our list to support live 360 films – a medium that’s getting increasingly more popular. But, with great benefits, comes great responsibility. Currently, you can only upload 360 videos which weigh in at less than 1.75GB and you’ll get capped at the 30-minute mark. So consider whether it’s tech specs or exposure that you’re after.
The fan-favourite video platform, YouTube, has been around for a fair few years, racking up billions of views. Now, it’s leading candidate in the race for best 360 platform. When it comes to users and engagement, YouTube will always win, hands down. With more than one billion users, if you’re looking to reach specifically video viewers, YouTube’s the best. And, it has an impressive upload limit – allowing brands to publish their 360 masterpieces that are up to 123GB in size.
The only other competitor in our list to offer this, it also enables live 360 streaming in up to 4K res. The perfect platform for your live 360 gig, much like Samsung’s recent work with Royal Blood. But, in terms of VR headsets and overall usability, it only supports Google Cardboard and Daydream. This is only a setback if you see multi-platform exposure as part of your endgame. Where it falls down in VR headsets compatibility, YouTube more than makes up for it across its other 360 specs.
Third up is the second biggest video giant, Vimeo. While it might not have the audience stats to quite stack up against the billions who use YouTube, Vimeo’s stats stood at an impressive 715 million monthly views last January – not a figure to sniff at. Vimeo has its own terms for video upload limits, so that’s hard to compare but one thing it has got is the best resolution in the business. If you’re keen to invest in the future of video, its whopping 8K 360º videos will make sure your audience never miss a moment of the high definition action.
The frame rate for all uploads is up to 60 fps and this adds a little something extra to your content. Like YouTube, Vimeo has also opted to support Cardboard and Daydream headsets rather than Oculus. This is not necessarily Vimeo’s downfall, especially if you’re looking to reach mass audiences with a simple and cost-effective headset like Cardboard. But while you can watch content offline on Vimeo, there’s no sign of live streaming. If Vimeo moves into the live world, they could give the others a serious run for their money.
Last but not least in our 360º face-off, is this relatively fresh newcomer, Littlstar. A cinematic virtual reality network specifically dedicated to the medium, they are quickly becoming the shining stars of the 360 degree & virtual world. While they might have a littl (we couldn’t resist) catching up to do, they already have content from massive brands like Volvo, Mini, Lexus, Visa and Red Bull, to name just a handful. The potential for traffic to come through from these brands in the future is already a very real thing. Interestingly, Littlstar is the sole platform of choice for MyndVR, the leading VR content provider for senior living communities. It’s worth remembering that each format retains very different audience bases and it would be a mistake to discount them. Content providers like the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal have already signed on to produce VR experiences for this neglected audience base.
It also supports up to 4k resolution 360 and to its credit, is the only 360 platform to support all VR headsets – including Oculus, Vive, Gear VR, Cardboard, Daydream, PSVR and almost any VR headset you can imagine. A big tick box for 360 streaming. It’s also got the option for eager viewers to watch content offline, much like Vimeo but similarly to its competitor, there’s no sign of live 360 in sight. Maybe it’ll happen in the future, but with a bit of a way to catch up, it might not be the go to 360 for most brands.
So there you go! If you’re looking for the perfect 360 platform to launch your VR masterpiece on, you might want to have a refer back to our handy roundup. But, if you want a slightly more bitesize version, here are the key pros and cons for each:
Pro: Most exposure for a 360 platform & live streaming / Con: Upload limit of 1.75GB per video
Pro: Biggest upload limit per video of 123GB & live streaming / Con: Not compatible with all VR headsets
Pro: 8K resolution supported for videos / Con: No live streaming 360 option
Pro: Compatible with all VR headsets, smaller but more diverse audience base / Con: Not as much exposure or live streaming option