Video-Sharing Site Vimeo Bankrolls First Original Productions

Vimeo, the IAC-owned video platform, is now investing in its first original programs. Since its launch, Vimeo has served as a platform for creatives to sell or rent content directly to fans. Vimeo is now funding three projects: the second season of “The Outs,” which debuted online in 2013; a stand-up comedy special featuring Bianca Del Rio, and a short film, “Darby Forever,” from “Saturday Night Live” cast member Aidy Bryant. Vimeo says the new model is also intended to encourage other creators to post content on the site.

The Wall Street Journal dubs Vimeo as “something of the anti-YouTube,” since it isn’t aimed at user-generated content and creators pay Vimeo a monthly fee to host content (subscriptions start at $59.95 a year). Creators that sell or rent content on Vimeo pay the platform 10 percent of their revenue, which can range from 99 cents for a single episode to “a few hundred dollars” for a multi-season series. Vimeo now offers 25,000 titles for sale from 8,000 creators.

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IAC reported that Vimeo’s number of paid subscribers has risen 25 percent — to almost 630,000 — in Q2 from the same period a year ago, and is expected to hit a million by the end of 2015.

Vimeo hopes that “The Outs,” created by actor/director Adam Goldberg about young gay life in New York City, takes a path similar to that of “High Maintenance,” a pot dealer comedy that was born on Vimeo but picked up by HBO. Vimeo chief executive Kerry Trainor notes that, “The Outs” has a larger fan base than “High Maintenance” did at this moment in its history.

“We are focused on creators who we think are taking Web video creative to new levels of quality — that is what Vimeo is about,” he says. “And it’s got an already proven, loyal fan base. So it’s the perfect kind of bet for us.”

Comedian/actors Rob Corddry and Mark Duplass launched their original series “Wedlock” last year on Vimeo. “We’re seeing more artists looking to do something directly with their fans,” Trainor adds. “With us, they are free of any restrictions from advertisers.”