PeerTube to replace YouTube

PeerTube is an open source, self-hosted, alternative to YouTube. I have recently set up Lokad’s peertube instance, and I am impressed by the quality of this project. This achievement is somewhat stunning considering it’s basically a one-man project, the top code contributor of PeerTube is currently dwarfing all other contributors.

More than a decade ago, I was already pointing out that letting a third-party platform control your audience was a terrible idea. Over the years, Lokad has avoided a great number of problems by sticking to the principle of self-hosting (almost) everything: website, blog, docs. Yet, we did not self-host our videos. Hosting videos was just too much effort. Thus, for videos, we were defaulting to YouTube. Nevertheless, in 2018, I took the time to set up our own web front-end, anticipating that, at some point, we would re-internalize the video hosting.

This day came with the third release of PeerTube in January 2021. It has pretty much all the bells and whistles that one would expect for modern video hosting. The video chapters are still missing, and one channel equates one user, which is not optimal for corporate use, but those elements are not showstoppers either. Thus, when I finally found the time in April 2021, I deployed Lokad’s peertube instance. From now on, Lokad will be dual-publishing its videos both on our own peertube instance and on YouTube.

For any company serious about its video content, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking control of the video distribution channel. From my CEO perspective, YouTube is a liability. I don’t have an agreement with them. I am not even a client of theirs. They can turn my company channel off at any point in time, or monetize it against my will. I would really prefer paying YouTube as a PaaS provider and pay for the computing resources that my channel consumes. However as this option is not available, PeerTube it is.

Executives who think that their corporate video content is in good hands with YouTube are fools. Competitors don’t have to play nice. They can directly buy (crowdsource) video violation reports by the thousands to get your channel unlisted. Large B2C channels are not “bankable” enough to be worth the hassle for YouTube to perform a manual investigation and whitelist a channel against bad faith reports. I don’t see how this could ever be a viable option for minor channels like the ones addressing B2B audiences with the present ad-driven business model.