Displaying Your Brand’s Videos with YouTube Channels vs. Wistia Channels

Phil Nottingham


Jean Merlain


Question: When you create videos for your business, where do you put them?

Answer: This is a trick question! We think where you choose to put your videos really depends on your brand’s marketing goals.

In this post, we’ll explore two popular options for displaying your brand’s videos — using YouTube Channels and using Wistia Channels. But first, let’s take a quick tour of each platform

YouTube Channels

YouTube Channels are a free way to host your videos and take advantage of the platform’s expansive reach with over 2 billion logged-in monthly users. The platform is also designed to encourage viewers to click around and watch as many videos as possible so that YouTube (and ultimately, Google) can serve more ads and meet the demands of advertisers.

Wistia Channels

On the other hand, Wistia Channels allow marketers to transform a group of videos into a highly engaging, immersive collection that lives right on your site. Wistia Channels is a paid marketing tool designed to encourage viewers to consume as much of your video content as possible in a distraction-free environment so that businesses can build brand affinity and generate more leads.

“The main difference between the two is that YouTube Channels provide a social experience and Wistia Channels provide a brand experience.”

The main difference between the two is that YouTube Channels provide a social experience and Wistia Channels provide a brand experience. Let’s dig into more of the differences so you can get a better idea of how each platform works to meet your video needs.

Host your videos in a distraction-free, premium-quality player that matches the look and feel of your brand. Get started with Wistia for free!

Subscribing to a Channel vs. Subscribing to a Business

When it comes to getting subscribers for your content, there are some differences between YouTube and Wistia Channels.

YouTube is structured around Channels. When someone clicks the “Subscribe” button on a YouTube Channel, it signs them up to receive notifications about new videos added to that particular Channel, but not any other content updates from the business that owns the Channel itself. That’s because YouTube collects and keeps this data. As a result, you don’t have any way to reach out to or build connections with your audience directly.

“When someone subscribes to a YouTube Channel, they’ll receive notifications about videos added to that Channel, but not any other content or updates from the business that owns the Channel.”

In practice, most companies have one solitary YouTube Channel that they treat like a cupboard. This Channel then lives on to serve the purpose of consolidating views and subscriptions.

With Wistia Channels, when a user fills out an email capture form on a video, they’re subscribing to the business as a whole (in accordance with the marketing automation and nurture campaigns you have set up). In practice, this means you can create as many Channels as you want, each with a different focus and set of videos, knowing that each new Channel you create is adding value.

Product feature breakdown

Features YouTube Channels Wistia Channels
Player design No customization options except adding a video watermark Change the color, font, and layout to match your brand
Header ImageStatic bannerStatic banner or background video with option to go headerless
Lead Capture“Subscribe” Button; you don’t own the audience; subscribers are a numerical valueMultiple email capture options which integrate with your CRM; you own the audience
GatingNo gatingAbility to gate your content and require users to provide an email address before getting access
“Up Next” BehaviorAutoplays the next video in the playlist or a random video, often from another company, based on the user’s playback historyAutoplays the next video in the Channel, as defined by you
SEOVisible in Google search with a video snippet linking to the video on YouTube.com Visible in Google search, linking to the video on your website
LocationHas to live on YouTube.com, although individual videos can be embedded on your websiteCan be embedded on any page on your website
SortingAutomatically sorted by date or popularity, with the ability to feature specific playlists on the channel homepageFull control over the ordering and presentation of videos within the channel
Social CTAsComments, likes, sharesNo social elements, just the videos without distractions
CostFreeFirst Channel is free, paid plans available

Advantages of a YouTube Channel

  • Visibility in YouTube search and YouTube related videos
  • Free to use

Advantages of a Wistia Channel

  • Customize the entire Channel experience to match your brand
  • Sends search traffic to pages on your website, rather than YouTube.com
  • Captures email addresses of viewers and integrates directly with your CRM system
  • Embeddable on your website
  • No ads or distractions

When should marketers use both?

It doesn’t need to be a case of either-or — there’s a role for both YouTube Channels and Wistia Channels in any well-rounded video strategy!

One of the most effective ways to use both is to treat YouTube Channels as an advertisement for a fuller experience on Wistia Channels. Check out our own YouTube Channel for an example of what that can look like.

Trailers and short snippets of longer videos can be hosted on YouTube, optimized for visibility in YouTube search, with a clear call to action to watch the full video on your website. With this approach, you can take advantage of the benefits YouTube offers for content discovery, as well as the benefits Wistia offers for acquisition, engagement, and conversion.

“Trailers and short snippets of longer videos can be hosted on YouTube, optimized for visibility in YouTube search, with a clear call to action to watch the full video on your website.”
Wistia Channels does a much better job of showing how cute Lenny is.

Another strategy we recommend is carefully selecting the full videos you place on YouTube. The platform’s robust search functionality makes it great for top-of-funnel content, like videos that answer a question or solve a common problem.

Ahrefs, an SEO tool for marketers, takes this approach with their YouTube video series. These clips are often less than ten minutes total and cover a wide array of high-level topics, like this one on “What is SEO?”

Remember to be strategic about what video content you put on YouTube and what you save for your website. YouTube can be an excellent platform for content discovery and getting your brand in front of more viewers, but it does have its downfalls. So, save premium content for your own website and put your best foot forward with a customizable video experience like a Wistia Channel.

Give your audience the experience they crave

At the end of the day, your audience deserves the best viewing experience possible. Lean into YouTube’s massive audience with searchable, top-of-funnel video content and teasers for your branded series. Then, focus on driving traffic to your website for a distraction-free, binge-worthy viewing experience.

Phil Nottingham


Jean Merlain


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