The Color of Your Video Player is Affecting Your Play Rate

Ezra Fishman

Business Intelligence

This post was originally published in 2016 but has since been updated with current data as of July 2020.

Dark Orchid. Burly Wood. Sea Green. Medium Sea Green. When choosing a color for your Wistia player, the world is your #EAE6CA. Sorry, we mean oyster.

There are hundreds of thousands of videos hosted on Wistia. And since users can select the color of their player from a color palette, there are also millions of colors to choose from. 16,777,216 to be exact.

Given this plethora of opportunities, we wanted to see what colors Wistia customers were choosing for their video players. We also wanted to see whether these color choices impacted how often viewers clicked play.

Let’s dive into the data to find out.

We’ve made updates to Wistia’s player and our app to make videos more accessible for everyone. Look at how we got here and the details around how our player is changing.


Royal blue is the more descriptive name for the color #1e71e7, the default Wistia player color. If you don’t customize your player, this is the color that will be shown to all your viewers.

From our sample*, 32603 videos rely on #1e71e7:

We also measure plays. This is a crucial first step for any video — to get played — so it is an important metric to track. Videos with the Royal blue color account for the vast majority of unique plays as well:

When we look deeper at the data, videos with a default-colored player were played 61,315,613 times. These videos were loaded 209,876,891 times. That means videos with the default-colored player loaded on users’ webpages over 200 million times, and the viewers pressed play to watch those videos only about 60 million times.

How is play rate determined? The play rate is defined as:

The play rate for default-colored player videos was 29.2%:

So almost seven times out of ten, the video player loaded in all its Royal blue glory, and the viewer chose not to play.

Beyond blue

We don’t think the default color is solely to blame for a lower play rate. Rather, the effect of player color on play rate is a matter of correlation rather than causation.

The people who customize their video player with their own colors tend to be the same people who also pick great thumbnail images, adjust the player controls to suit their needs, promote their video for their followers to watch, and put in the extra effort to increase production standards.

It is the combination of all these factors that increase a video’s play rate. But it seems customizing the player color doesn’t hurt.

So what other colors are our customers choosing on their own? If we take #1e71e7 out of the equation, we see how other colors perform.

In terms of unique plays, it is #000000, Black, that comes in a healthy second. Black accounts for 22.4% of all non-default color videos, and 33.3% of all non-default video plays:

Although Black has the most unique plays, grey is the color that most players are made of. Four of the top non-default 10 videos by unique plays have a player color that is predominantly grey.

How to customize your player with Wistia

The data above is certainly interesting, but If you haven’t already customized your player color, we think you should consider a shade that fits better with the rest of your design and branding.

Changing your player color is super easy. When you click on the video you want to edit in your Project, go to the Customize panel and choose Appearance. You’ll be presented with a color palette:

Here you’ve got two options:

  1. Drag the circle around within the palette until you find the right color for you.
  2. Alternatively, if you’ve already got an idea of what color you want, enter the hex code, such as #7b796a. You can go here to learn more about hex codes and how they translate into colors. (Math _is_ fun!)

Match your brand

You still have to choose the right color for your player though, and choosing from the 16-odd million available isn’t an easy choice.

The best place to start is with your branding. If you have branding guidelines, you can choose the hex code of your primary or complementary colors to make sure your player fits with the rest of your site.

This is what sales analytics platform InsightSquared has done. Like us, their main branding is blue (#00B3E9 in their case) and they use this as the player color for their case study videos:

If you don’t have a style guide, then the color world really is your #EAE6CA (oyster). In this case, we suggest using color theory as a starting point for discovering the right color combinations for your videos and brand.

Color theory is the science behind why colors make us feel the way we do. Certain hues of color are explicitly represented by groups of cells in the brain, so this makes choosing the right color a great way to stand out and be noticed. For instance, a 2012 study found that companies with red-dominant branding were perceived as exciting and dynamic and those with blue branding as competent and trustworthy.

With our cool Wistia blue we hope we are seen as competent, but also still a bit exciting!

The right colors

If you are choosing colors, here are how some of the major colors are supposedly perceived:

  • Red: Exciting, dynamic, passionate.
  • Blue: Dependable, stable, friendly.
  • Green: Natural, healing, calm.
  • Purple: Luxurious, spiritual.
  • Black: Powerful, Sophisticated.

Beware. Color meanings change with culture, so your bright, joyful yellow player is the color of mourning in Egypt.

Design is in the details

From our data, it seems that too many Wistia users are still using the default, Royal blue color that’s applied when you first upload your video. Though this color does get a lot of plays, the play rate isn’t as high as with other colors.

Your player color might seem like an afterthought, but in design, these little details matter.

Next time you’re uploading a video to Wistia, try customizing your player to better fit with your own brand and design. By doing so, you can create a polished first impression that will likely result in a higher play rate.

* This analysis includes all videos that were played between Jan 1 - July 1, 2020. We only analyzed 74 separate colors from the millions of options. The sample was filtered to exclude the following videos:

  • Videos with fewer than 100 loads during that period
  • Videos with a play rate >90% (generally popover embeds)

Ezra Fishman

Business Intelligence

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