Patreon is officially launching its own video hosting feature, nearly a year after it was first teased.
The update marks a major shift in how creators on Patreon can share video content with fans. Previously, creators had to upload videos to third-party platforms like YouTube and Vimeo and then embed video players or share links with subscribers. Uploading to a third-party app had its wrinkles, however, like videos being shared outside of paying subscribers.
The native and ad-free Patreon player allows creators to upload their content directly to the platform, select thumbnails for their videos, and view audience data like view count. Creators will also be able to select who can view the video without worrying whether links will be shared outside of subscribers. The player has been in beta with a select group of creators and, beginning today, will be available to all creators on the pro and premium plans.
“[This vision] is really about giving creators a more direct connection with their fans,” Julian Gutman, chief product officer at Patreon, says. “Giving them the content and community tools to really create a new model that’s ad-free, that’s algorithm-free, where they have this direct relationship.”
One of the key features is the ability to make custom teasers — short clips of up to two minutes long that creators can offer to the public for free. The idea, Gutman says, is that the previews can convert people into paying subscribers by giving them a taste of what a creator has to offer.
To start, creators on pro and premium plans who aren’t making adult content will get 500 hours of uploads through the end of 2023. Gutman says Patreon will roll out a more detailed payment structure sometime in 2024, and creators will get a six-month extension to use their allotted 500 hours. If a creator runs out of video hours, they can request more during this early period before the pricing structure is in place.
Video creators are the largest category on Patreon, and even other types, like podcasters or visual artists, upload video content for fans. But for some creators, having to use a third-party hosting platform has also made it a thorny and frustrating topic.
Earlier this year, several popular Patreon creators who used Vimeo for hosting were shocked to learn that the price of keeping videos on the platform was going up — in some cases, by thousands of dollars. Vimeo has long been a favorite for creatives thanks to its tools for protecting content and its reputation as an indie alternative to YouTube. Now, creators were being told to pay up or risk losing their work.
Through a longstanding partnership that included a video integration, many Patreon creators had opted to upload their videos to Vimeo. When fees jumped unexpectedly, some creators said Patreon wasn’t giving users adequate warning that it could happen to them.
“Vimeo has been a great partner to us for a long time,” Gutman says. “One of the things, though, that that demonstrates to us and, I think, to the broader marketplace is, when you rely on a third-party company to power some of your core features, it’s just unpredictable. Leadership can change, things can change at that company.”
Creators will still be able to use Vimeo for their work — Patreon’s native tool is just one option for hosting video content.
Gutman says the video player should be thought of as the first version of a product the company will be iterating on. Patreon is working on allowing for mobile uploading, for example, as well as bringing a 4K option for videos.