According to their official statement, YouTube feels “Titles, channel information, and related videos are an important part of YouTube’s core user experience, and these changes help to make the YouTube viewing experience consistent across different platforms”.
So, YouTube considers related videos an important part of their core experience and that enabling related videos on embedded clips maintains “consistency”.
I suppose it makes sense. After all, it’s their product, and they can do as they wish.
This means that people using YouTube to embed videos on their website, have a much higher chance of people clicking through to YouTube and getting lost in an endless stream of cat videos (which is good for YouTube, but not-so-good for small businesses).
The Silver Lining – Same Channel Related Videos
There is, at least one bit of redemption to this story. Those who have previously opted to disable related videos will, at least, only have related videos pop-up from their own channel.
Which means unrelated cat videos (or worse things) won’t pop up at the end of your video, as long as you have
rel=0 at the end of your YouTube URL. Instead, you’ll just have videos from your own channel pop up (which I suppose isn’t too bad).
So… Should You Still Use “rel=0”?
In a word, yes. You can (and should) still use
rel=0 at the end of your videos, because it will (at least) make sure that people will only see videos you uploaded, instead of commercials from your competitors, or random things unrelated to your business.
What If That’s Not Good Enough?
If you’re a website owner that embeds YouTube videos on their website, and you’re not okay with these changes, you’ll probably need to find another option.
Alternatives to YouTube
The only other video streaming source I personally have experience with is Vimeo. They have free and paid accounts. They do have something similar to YouTube’s “related videos” called “staff picks”, but you can turn them off if you pay for one of their premium accounts (starting at $7/month). Unlike YouTube, the ability to not show related videos happens inside your account settings, so you have to own the video in question if you want to change this setting.
Daily motion, has an “Up Next Queue” which is similar to YouTube’s “Related Videos” but it can be turned off by adding
?queue-enable=false to the end of the URL (when using the iframe embed code).
Self Hosted Videos
If your video files are small, you could host the video directly on your website with HTML5 video.
However, I don’t recommend this for novices.
Videos will load slowly unless you carefully consider compression. I recommend keeping your video files under 5MB (and no more than 10MB). That might sound crazy to some of you, but self-hosting larger videos can cause significant slowdowns across your entire website.