YouTube is a the primary video sharing site on the Internet. It is full of helpful tutorials, commentary, funny videos, and strange content. For most purposes, its hard not to use YouTube. If I’m repairing my ’04 Expedition, where do I turn first? YouTube. Putting new flooring down? YouTube. Following the election? YouTube. Watching turkey fryer explosions? YouTube. You get the point: YouTube hosts a wide variety of content and its likely the only place that many videos will be hosted.
It is very difficult to break a monopoly like YouTube. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Google snowball into success. As more users visited these sites, they increased in popularity. That increase in popularity encourages more users to visit and more content creators to choose them. That makes it especially difficult for competitors to enter a market, especially against the likes of YouTube. Despite this, there are alternative video sharing sites similar to YouTube and there are alternative ways to access content on YouTube. While most of the alternatives are open source and privacy focused, not all are.
Why Not YouTube?
YouTube is an excellent platform given its wide variety of content. It is the sole choice for many content creators. All of its success has translated into massive profits. YouTube had $15 billion in ad revenue for 2019. YouTube reports over 2 billion monthly logged in users monthly watching over a billion hours of video daily. The popularity of the site is obvious.
Given YouTube’s healthy numbers, the recent policy change might be surprising. The YouTube Partner Program displays ads and shares ad revenue with more successful channels. With this change, YouTube will begin showing ads on less popular channels but will not share the ad revenue.
Ads have become, well, obnoxious and intrusive on YouTube. So as a viewer, what are the alternatives?
If your only complaint with YouTube is over advertising, consider YouTube Premium. This paid subscription includes ad-free, offline, and background playback. All are very helpful for YouTube Music users (Music is included in Premium). YouTube Premium starts at $11.99 a month after a three month free trial. Students can get a discounted subscription for only $6.99 while families with up to five people get their own shared plan for $17.99.
Dailymotion is the second largest video sharing service after YouTube with 300 million monthly users. Unlike other services here, Dailymotion is not open source. Since Dailymotion is headquartered in France, European data privacy laws apply.
Given Dailymotion’s user base, I expected the most YouTube competitive content available. I started with a rudimentary search of Linux. Dailymotion spit out 7, 8, 9 and 10 year old videos. I checked to make sure oldest to newest was not an option. Its not. Changing the search results to most recent did help but I found that generally, there is simply less content. A search for a 98 F150 fuel filter yielded two results, neither of which relates to fuel filters.
LBRY is an ad free, open source platform for video, music, and books. Similar to how Brave brought its own currency to ads, LBRY has its own cryptocurrency called LBRY Credits or LBC. LBC can be earned by consuming or creating content. LBRY has the most potential for growth on this list. Since the service is able to monetize and content creators can be paid (users can tip creators), its likely to attract YouTube refugees.
LBRY is available for Android, Linux, and Windows. Content can also be enjoyed via browser. An iOS app is expected soon.
Framasoft’s open source PeerTube enables anyone with a little know how to host their own video service. The federated nature can make it difficult to find content on PeerTube but the service is ad free. PeerTube can also be useful for individuals or organizations that wish to host a mini YouTube for their own content.
BitChute operates similarly to BitTorrent with a goal of distributed content. Ideally, content would be downloaded then seeded like a torrent to other viewers. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet.
While this is legitimate content on BitChute, I found the site full of conspiracy videos and hate speech. There is definitely no censorship to be found here.
NewPipe is a free and open source client for watching YouTube videos. It is only available for Android. NewPipe includes many of YouTube’s features without requiring an account. With the app, its possible to subscribe to channels, download videos, watch videos, choose quality settings, and enjoy the videos either in the background or with a pop up. NewPipe is ad free. For channels on YouTube that rely on advertising revenue, this is potentially detrimental.
NewPipe is the best choice for privacy and to go ad free for free. Don’t forget to support content creators in other ways if you’re skipping the ads.
NewPipe is available to download on F-Droid.
Vanced is an open source project that tweaks YouTube into an ad free experience. It can even be configured to skip sponsored segments. Unlike NewPipe, Vanced modifies the existing YouTube app and works with YouTube accounts. Account history and subscriptions are all present.
Search Engine Viewing
Search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Qwant all offer the option to view videos directly in the search results.
All three search engines tested played videos without going to YouTube. Videos are also sourced from more than just YouTube. I noticed Dailymotion results mixed in. DuckDuckGo and Qwant both gave privacy warnings about where the video is hosted and that privacy cannot be guaranteed. Despite this, videos will play without YouTube’s excessive ads.
For a quick, lazy solution, playing videos from a search engine is the answer.