Patreon is officially launching its own video hosting feature, nearly a year after it first appeared.
The update marks a major change in how Patreon creators 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. However, uploading to a third-party app had its downsides, like sharing videos outside of paid subscribers.
The native, ad-free Patreon player allows creators to upload their content directly to the platform, select thumbnails for their videos, and display audience data like view counts. Creators will also be able to select who can view the video without worrying about whether links will be shared outside of subscribers. The player is in beta with a select group of creators and starting 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,” says Julian Gutman, Chief Product Officer at Patreon. “Giving them the content and the community tools to really create a new model without ads, without algorithms, where they have that direct relationship.”
One of the key features is the ability to create custom teasers – short clips of up to two minutes in length that creators can offer to audiences for free. The idea, says Gutman, is that previews can convert people into paying subscribers by giving them a taste of what a creator has to offer.
For starters, creators on the pro and premium plans who don’t create adult content will receive 500 hours of downloads through the end of 2023. Gutman says Patreon will roll out a more detailed payment structure later in 2024, and creators will receive a one-month extension to use their allotted 500 hours. If a creator runs out of video hours, they can request more during this first 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 sticky 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 increasing — in some cases, by thousands of dollars. Vimeo has long been a favorite with creatives thanks to its content protection tools and reputation as an independent alternative to YouTube. Now creators were being told to pay or risk losing their work.
Thanks to a long-standing partnership that included video integration, many Patreon creators had chosen to upload their videos to Vimeo. When fees jumped unexpectedly, some creators said Patreon didn’t warn users enough that it could happen to them.
“Vimeo has been a great partner for us for a long time,” says Gutman. “One of the things, though, that it shows us and I think the wider market is that when you rely on a third-party company to power some of your core functionality, it’s just unpredictable. Leadership can change, things can change in this 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 considered the first version of a product that the company will iterate on. Patreon is working on allowing mobile downloading, for example, as well as offering a 4K option for videos.