Filmmaker-friendly video sharing service Vimeo just launched Vimeo PRO, a service designed for small businesses looking for high-quality, branding-free video hosting. Vimeo PRO runs $199/year for 50GB of storage and includes up to 250,000 plays; another $199 will expand the offering by an additional 100,000 plays or 50GB of storage. While this new offering will work well for many small businesses -- especially in a portfolio context -- I have a number of questions about it, and I think there's something missing from Vimeo's slate of offerings.
There are a few things I don't understand about Vimeo's new PRO service. First, for $199 a year you get 50GB of storage and 250,000 plays. If you're a Vimeo Plus member, on the other hand, you get 5GB of storage a week, which maxes out at 260GB a year (though it would be hard to utilize all of it unless you maxed out every week). You also get unlimited plays as a Plus member -- and you're only paying $60/year. I understand the difference between a player only (Pro) and a service that wants to direct potential users back to its own site (Plus), but I'm not sure that users will understand the difference given Plus already allows you to remove the Vimeo branding, restrict embedding to your own site, and password-protect files. Are they taking away these features they tout as "Pro" from the current Plus account? If not, it seems to me that savvy users can simply opt for Plus and remove the Vimeo branding, assuming they're not selling anything (if they are, they'll need the Pro account).
Another thing: my main complaint with the Vimeo player to date has been the inability to seek to a video point beyond what's already been downloaded. For long videos, this is a must, and other services like YouTube have had this in place for years. Instead, with Vimeo you must wait for the entire video to download if you want to watch the end, instead of simply clicking and having the download re-start from that point forward. I'm talking about the Flash player, here -- the mobile and HTML5 versions may differ, but I'm betting most people are still watching video using Flash, so it's an issue regardless.
I'm sure the folks at Vimeo will have good answers to these questions. Also, it's worth noting that the new PRO account offers a number of features not found in Plus, such as the creation of a portfolio web site:
There's something I'm less sure about, however, and it's the elephant in the room for Vimeo: monetization. As a site that has a massive community of filmmakers posting short videos, tutorials, and camera tests, you would think they would offer a way for independent filmmakers to make a living... independently. By this I mean: views are worth money. A $10 CPM, which is within the realm of possibility, works out to be a penny a view. 250,000 views, therefore, could be worth $2,500 to the video's creator, assuming there's a paying ad run against every view. But in Vimeo's world, where they don't offer any advertising solutions, it's worth $0.00. I understand that they don't want to "taint" their customer's videos with pre-roll or overlay ads. But if you really want to empower independent content creators, you must give them a way to make a living. Especially if you're going to call the new account "Pro" -- the definition of "professional" is "a person engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime." If you can't make any money off your videos, that's a pastime, not a profession.
Brightcove, blip.tv, Viddler, Ooyala, and newcomer Vidcaster all offer monetization options. Online video has moved beyond a hobby; today, many people make a living by posting videos online. But they can't do it through Vimeo. To be clear: I'm a paying Vimeo customer and I like the service. They have a great community and their features and video quality are some of the best out there. $199/year is practically nothing, much less $59/year. There are also many ways to make money by posting videos online that are more indirect: getting paying jobs, building an audience, establishing new contacts, etc. But as I say on this site's disclosures page, "the point of No Film School is to help independent creatives figure out how to derive value from the content we create." Hosting isn't enough for independent content creators. Monetization is key.
Link: Vimeo PRO