Best Video Format for YouTube

Thinking about what is the best video format for YouTube? Join the club.

With over 2 billion users, virtually no competitors, and a tsunami of consumer attention, it should come as no surprise that more and more businesses are investing their ad dollars in YouTube videos.

Why Is Finding the Best Video Format for YouTube Important?

As consumers spend more and more time watching online videos, thinking about the best video format for YouTube makes perfect sense. It’s an important question to consider as you’re trying to convey the value of your products and services to your audience.

Every story you’re trying to tell has unique elements, context, and other variables. Addressing and leveraging each of these unique variables will result in the most compelling video possible.

But along with those creative elements, the technical side of video creation must come into play. Selecting the best format in which to upload your YouTube video will impact the quality that comes through to your audience.

Video marketers know that when it comes to choosing the right video format when creating an effective and engaging video for YouTube, that the solution is not one-size-fits-all.


Because depending on which computer, website browser, and platform the audience uses will determine how different video formats perform. This can easily become overwhelming, which is why we’ve written this article.

Keep reading to learn more about the best video format for your specific use case.

Supported File Formats for YouTube

YouTube specifies the following supported file formats.

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)

So the first thing you should do is check to ensure that your video has been created in one of the above formats. If your video has already been created and is not in one of these formats, be sure to convert it before uploading it to YouTube.

But then this question remains: but which is the best video format for your YouTube video?

Best Video Formats for YouTube

According to YouTube, the best video format for a full HD video (1920×1080 px) is MP4. YouTube goes on to specify other best practices, which include:

  • H.264 codec
  • 15-20 Mbps
  • Audio codec AAC-LC

But what if you don’t need a full HD video? Then which is the best video format for you?

Remember, different platforms cater to different audiences and have different format and length requirements. So be sure you’re not making a common mistake like so many other e-commerce businesses.

Like we said earlier, one size does not fit all. So keep reading to see which video is best depending on the driving factors in your video.


Almost all devices and platforms support MP4, which is why it’s considered to be the most universal format. With the capacity to store video files, audio files, text, and still images. MP4 delivers high video quality while keeping file size relatively small.

Driving Factor: Preserving space while delivering high quality


Apple’s MOV was specifically designed for QuickTime Player, but is compatible with Windows. Quality is especially high, so MOV will take up quite a bit of space on your device.

Driving Factor: Delivering exceptional quality


Microsoft’s WMV is also compatible with Mac. But like MOV, the WMV format provides exceptional quality but the trade-off is a large file size.

Driving Factor: Delivering exceptional quality


FLV was designed for the Adobe Flash Video Player. So all browsers and video platforms supports the FLV format. But not all devices can say the same.

Driving Factor: Small file size allows for quick download.

Other Technical Considerations for Your YouTube Video

While choosing the best video format for YouTube is important, there are other technical considerations to keep in mind.

File Size

The maximum size is typically 128GB or 12 hours and it’s important not to exceed this limit.

What if your video is longer than that?

Well, you can compress it using a video editor prior to uploading it.

Aspect Ratio

For the best video format for YouTube, stick to the 16:9 aspect ratio, which represents length to width.

While you can upload videos with other aspect ratios, 16:9 aspect ratio ensures that your video looks great on mobile devices as well as desktops.

Resolution & Frame Rate

To optimize resolution, record your video in 1080p since this is considered HD.

1080p looks great on all devices. This is especially true if your frame rate is solid, which means somewhere between 30 and 60 frames per second (fps). Anything less than 30 fps will appear blurry.

If you’re using your smartphone to record, you just need to make sure the phone has a decent camera. To optimize your video, be sure that your phone can record up to 2160p.

Leverage the Power of YouTube Today

There is so much untapped potential in the marketplace. A properly optimized YouTube video is the way to tap into those valuable opportunities. But without the right video format, you risk letting the power of your YouTube video slip through your fingers.

Remember, the technical aspects of your YouTube video are just as important as the creative elements you incorporate.

And it’s equally as important that business owners and marketing directors be honest with themselves:

  • Do you have the technical expertise to master those technical elements?
  • If not, do you have the time, energy, and bandwidth to acquire that expertise?

Don’t worry if “no” is the answer to those two questions. It makes perfect sense, after all, since you’ve got a business to run.

The good news is that to properly leverage YouTube to establish a competitive advantage in your market, you don’t need to do it alone.

At Levitate Media, we believe that video can help any company in the world effectively introduce their offering or expand brand recognition. That’s why we’re happy to work with companies that are brand new start-ups as well as established multinational corporations to leverage the power of YouTube videos.

Contact us today to learn more.