fromJune 2015

Managing Video Content in Drupal

An Overview of Solutions for Hosting and Playing Videos

Photo of network cablesWhen faced with the task of managing videos in Drupal, the number of available solutions might seem overwhelming. Where should you store the videos? What is the difference between CDNs (content delivery networks), cloud storage services, and hosted video solutions? Which Drupal modules should you use with which service?

Drupal Modules

By using some of the most popular modules for video handling, you can quickly set up a reliable video solution:

  • Media module Although not specialized for video, this widely used module can be combined with others; some cloud services have their own modules integrated with the Media module, too.
  • MediaElement module The MediaElement module provides an HTML5 (or Flash fallback) player. With the MediaElement module you can stream video to mobile devices as well. The player can integrate with your responsive theme.
  • Video module The Video module can handle video upload, transcoding, and playing; generates thumbnails; and can deliver videos from cloud systems.

Content Delivery Networks

CDNs are largely distributed systems optimized for delivering content to end-users, over the Internet, with high availability and performance. For video content, they are often coupled with a transcoding server.
They can be expensive, but are a good choice for improving performance and delivering content for high-traffic websites. As the data centers are distributed, they will be faster than the usual hosting providers for most visitors to your site. Also, contemplate using a CDN if you already have a transcoding server.

The CDN module provides easy Content Delivery Network integration for Drupal sites. It alters file URLs so that files are downloaded from a CDN instead of your web server.

Cloud Storage Services

Cloud storage services aren’t optimized for delivering rich media content on high traffic sites, but can be a cheaper alternative to CDNs – if you don’t have a huge number of videos and your site traffic isn’t very high.

The Media module alone doesn't provide full cloud storing services (like Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, and Google Cloud Platform), but together with the Remote Stream Wrapper module, you can reach external files from Drupal.

Some modules for full cloud storage service integration:

  • Storage API is a low-level framework that can be extended to work with any storage service.
  • Google Cloud Storage allows you to replace the local file system with Google Storage. Files will still be managed by Drupal, but instead of being stored on the local server, they will be stored on the Google Cloud Platform.

Cloud-hosted Video Solutions

Hosted video platforms are specialized for video storage, transcoding, and playback. They already include the transcoding software, and additional features like players (for different devices), playlists, ads, live streaming or DRM (Digital Rights Management).

DRM is a robust content protection program that enables publishers to enforce policies and rules for usage of their content.

  • Brightcove offers a highly-scalable secure video hosting platform for delivering and monetizing video across connected devices.

    The Brightcove integration module adds Brightcove videos or playlists to your content, and accesses information from the Video Cloud from within your site. Brightcove actively maintains their Drupal module by paying a company from the community – Pronovix (where I work) – for development and support.

  • The Platform offers different online video packages from an enterprise-class video management system to businesses with smaller video libraries. They also provide a transcoding engine. Their Drupal module, Media: thePlatform mpx, integrates with the Media module.
  • Wistia is a professional video hosting solution with analytics and video marketing tools. In Drupal, you can either use it with the Media:Wistia module or the Video Filter module that has extended Wistia support.
  • Vzaar is a video hosting solution offering quick, secure, and reliable services with much-praised support. Use it with the Media:vzaar module for Drupal integration.
  • Viddler offers Overture, a video hosting platform for enterprise corporations, and Arpeggio, a responsive HTML5 video player that enables you to create interactive video content and timeline commenting. Use the Viddler module for Drupal integration. (Note: The Drupal 7 version is in development, currently for testing only with limited functionality.)

Self-hosted Video Solutions

For an open source solution, you can opt for Kaltura – the world's first open source online video platform – or set up your own hosted video platform with OctopusVideo.

  • Kaltura provides enterprise level commercial software and services, as well as free open-source community-supported solutions for video publishing, management, syndication, and monetization. You can use it as a one-stop solution for all your Rich Media, including images, audio, and documents.
    Using the Kaltura module, you can either leverage the Kaltura hosted platform or grab the free source code and self-host the entire platform.
  • For your own hosted video platform, try OctopusVideo, an open source video transcoding and delivery platform built on Drupal.

Video Sharing Sites

If simply embedding YouTube or Vimeo videos in your Drupal site is enough for your project, you have more options to choose from:

  • Use the Embedded Media Field module and the YouTube integration for the Media module in both Drupal 6 and 7.
  • Use the Media module to embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo, by adding the URL to a field or through an editor.
  • In Drupal 7, use the Video Embed Field module to create a simple field type that allows you to embed videos from YouTube and Vimeo or show their thumbnail previews by entering the video's URL.
  • Use the Media Embed plugin for CKEditor that opens a Dialog where you can paste an embed code from YouTube or Vimeo.


As you see, there is a wide variety of available solutions, which vary widely in price and performance: choose the approach that best suits your needs. This overview should help you get started!

Image:"Networking" by npobre is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Often overlooked for videos, but is currently the only third party solution that offers albums with mixed video/photo content out-of-the-box.

An example: