November 13, 2012

Vimeo Pay-to-View Coming to PRO Members in 2013, Private Beta Rolling Out Today

We knew monetization on Vimeo was coming sooner or later, and after they introduced Tip Jar back in September, they also discussed some early plans for a Pay-to-View/online VOD service sometime in the near future. Today they introduced that service in a strictly test run format: Vimeo Movies. While it will not be open to the public until next year, they currently have six films available, and will release more before the service launches in full. If you're a Vimeo PRO member, you'll already be on your way to selling your film when the service comes out of private beta, but what about the rest of Vimeo's users?

First, here's the introduction to Vimeo Movies:

Here is a little bit from their mission statement with this initiative:

Our mission is to support totally original video and the people who create it, which means providing more than a home. It means creating an environment where creators can access the resources to make their next film, and the one after that. Our new pay-to-view service enables creators to upload and distribute work that they depend on for their livelihood, all with easy setup and affordable rates. In turn, our community gets access to amazing work from the world’s leading filmmakers.

Vimeo is one of the bigger names in online streaming, but it's really the community that has been built around the service that has helped differentiate itself from the pack. Since it was built for artists, the focus has been on providing a way for people to come together to share their work in a positive way. Some may argue it's too positive, but personally I prefer a community of artists talking about work as opposed to the wild west that is YouTube comments.

This is where Vimeo Movies comes in. We've seen a few independently focused distribution platforms close their doors, but like with any new service, it's all about building an audience. That's one advantage I see with Vimeo already: it's not quite as saturated as YouTube (which can be either positive or negative), but it does have a sizable audience of artists that ranges from amateurs all the way to professionals working in Hollywood. That makes the service intriguing already for many reasons, but the key area where many have so far been unsuccessful is in reaching critical mass -- which, of course, Vimeo already has. If you're wondering how this is going to work, here is a brief list of what you can expect early next year:

  • Easy Setup: Create your own custom destination, set your price and find your audience.
  • Set Your Own Price: Sell your work how you want, where you want and at the price you want.
  • Robust Analytics: Learn who's watching your movie to help fine-tune your marketing efforts.
  • Playable on All Devices: Your movies will play on smart phones, tablets, game consoles and connected TVs. And the Internet.
  • Simple, Built-In Sharing: You and your fans can instantly share your content to Facebook and Twitter.
  • No Middleman: Connect directly to your fans without any distribution gatekeepers.

It's clear that Vimeo is making a distinction between its users. If you want to be a part of the community and utilize the website by uploading limited amounts of your own work, there are free accounts available. If you want to share the highest quality work possible, but also want some flexibility in the way the work is viewed and have the ability to let people donate to your videos, they have their Plus accounts at $60 a year. If you are a business or you're a user who is interested in making real money from your videos, that's where the $200-a-year PRO account comes in. That's the clear line between users on the site, and if you want to sell your work, then a PRO account is going to be your only option.

A lot of details are still not yet finalized on how the Pay-to-View service will work (or if there will be any additional fees/costs involved), but if a PRO account is all that is required to sell your movie online, I think the platform is very intriguing for many different types of users. Some have complained in the past about other services that take a rather large percentage of the revenue split for a meager audience. Then there is the other side of the equation with platforms like iTunes having the largest online audience as a pay-per-view service -- but it's also one of the most difficult and expensive to get on. Vimeo has not talked about any revenue split or fee at this time, but it will be interesting to see what happens since they are far more focused on the community aspects of distribution (though making money probably doesn't hurt).

The last piece of the puzzle is curation. It's likely Vimeo will promote higher-profile projects to "sell" their service just like any other distribution platform would, but the biggest problem for independent distribution is people easily finding and buying your movie. Will it work like Netflix and try to suggest films that you may like based on your past viewing habits, or will all of the movies simply be organized in whatever category they've been labeled in, and users will have to go out of their way to find them?

Either way, for artists, it still likely won't replace audience-building. While the methods have changed dramatically with social media, as a creator you're still competing for eyeballs in an extremely fast-paced media world. I'm personally excited to see what kind of analytics might come from this service, as those sorts of statistics can help you target your audience directly and help you when you're planning to create or release your next film.

There are six films currently on the service, though availability is not worldwide for all of the films. The prices range from $5 to $9, and access to the video once you've purchased it varies from 48 hours to 2 months. So it's clear from those selections and the way they are structured that Vimeo is going to be tailored to the creator. That's certainly positive news for anyone who's in the process or will be selling a film by the time the service launches, but we'll have to wait and see how it plays out early next year.

What do you guys think about the platform? Would getting a PRO account be worth it for you to sell a movie? How about curation, how do you think that will work? Have you had any success so far with other independent distribution platforms in the past?

Link: Vimeo Movies

Your Comment


Interesting. Currently, all the content I have created is for my clients which is something I can not resell. So I'm not interested at this time. But I like the direction Vimeo is going in as long as it doesn't screw up my plus account.

November 13, 2012 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is great. More channels in the market can only make it more competitive, and based on Vimeo's past, I trust this new service will balance great aesthetics with high functionality. Having the flexibility with billing and amount of views will allow filmmakers to develop their own strategies and experiment more with this business of making money.

November 13, 2012 at 4:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


All these new features are great, but are MEANINGLESS until they address the issues they are having on the back end.

Constant failures to upload, encode, and no real support system (no ticketed traceable support queue, just a d-Board). They are NOT a pro service just because they have monetization.

I was so disgusted with the canned answers I left their "PRO" service and went to Zenfolio. You want a company to watch in this verticle, watch them. They have done a great job on photographs and are taking a run at the video side of the house,

I think they will eat Vimeo's lunch.

November 13, 2012 at 5:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Vimeo's encoding is absolutely atrocious in terms of consistency and quality. Youtube has their game in much better shape IMHO. Good idea none-the less!

November 13, 2012 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I really like where its headed but I am still uncomfortable with the idea that people will be watching your film on a computer. I know that some people watch movies on their Ipads and iphones (traveling especially), but generally people like to watch movies on a TV. In this case you would have to buy an Apple TV, or another box like Roku, or have it built into your television. Vimeo is really not that popular outside of the creative world. I have always felt Vimeo was a platform more for creatives evaluating each others work rather than an entertainment portal for audiences. Some of my family members don't even have a clue of what Vimeo is. Hopefully that will change. I think if Vimeo really wants to get into that game it needs to adopt itself in devices that people already have like videogame systems. Xbox, PS3, or even the new Wii U and promote the hell out of it.

Its getting harder and harder for filmmakers everywhere. On the earlier post, Ted Hope was talking about 50,000 movies being made in the world a year. Thats a lot of damn movies.

I think this is the time more than ever that artist should support each other and stick together. Time and time again I find pretentious filmmakers who praise themselves, beg people to watch there films, but do not return that support by watching other filmmakers work or spreading the word. In a world dominated by money, everyone is out for themselves and I think if we all to stuck together more and tried to watch more independently made films, that we would all prosper.

November 13, 2012 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think you'd be surprised how many people already watch movies on their computer or tablet today.
That, and the number people who play it from an ipad or laptop that's connected to a TV.

November 14, 2012 at 1:07AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I`m curious where ted hope gets his "50.000 movies a year" figure, if it`s everything from soap operas, reality tv shows, serials up to the "big" movies made in each corner of the world, then it may be correct. But it also means he`s just exaggerting things by putting Bollywood, Hollywwood and whatever "-hood" exists into the same basket - so let`s get real, we`re not talking about one huge, homogenous worldwide audience, there`s little overlap between some old people in Germany watching their awful local crime serials and those people watching those boring skateboard films. So instead of concentrating on a diffuse mass go for smaller, but still big audiences.

Regarding Vimeo: I`m curios what`s going to happen, but some others already said it - most people watch movies on the tv, so Vimeo may be viable for the fraction which watches digitally and online, so the content creators have to take care of the offline crowd in some other way.

November 14, 2012 at 1:41AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


There's a whole generation of students who only watch movies on their notebooks. While I do have a TV, most of my fellow students don't. So that's not something Vimeo needs to worry about.

November 16, 2012 at 8:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


this is great and all but their video encoding quality is crap. Google should buy them out and use their great ideas to make youtube better

November 13, 2012 at 7:01PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

john jeffreys

Good concept but useless in this pirated world that we live , i mean red box works because people do not mind paying a buck plus to see a movie on the a home tv or widescreen, but as far as internet goes, there are numerous recording options to record streaming content, so the ideal of charging something on something unstable as internet is useless,

Case and POINT, Youtube is suppose to remove licensed music and other content, but really in the end, they never really stop nothing.

November 14, 2012 at 8:27AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


"(...) access to the video once you’ve purchased it varies from 48 hours to 2 months."

Bad idea! Many people want to 'own' the films, songs, books they pay for; they want to be able to watch them again in the distant future, and show them to friends, family, as many times as they want.

November 14, 2012 at 2:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


There's a lot of whining about this, but really what's the alternative? We can keep giving it away for free hoping for some magical payout down the line, but unless you have a client up front, it's getting harder to see a return on your work. Disc sales are down, TV is turning more than ever to cheap "reality" content, theaters are still in the studio blockbuster model, and standing out in any of the major streaming services is harder than ever. At least with the Vimeo model you can direct your own marketing to push eyeballs to your own content and earn some money right there.
This is just one more part of the total process these days...release it in every format and every market you can and hope that all the crumbs add up to a nice piece of cake.

November 15, 2012 at 11:14AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Andrius Simutis

I'm new to this site found it a week ago. I spent a few hours reading on here. I have been Vimeo plus member for a few years. I have been using the GoPro cameras to film motorcycle rides. I pick up a nice Canon HD camcoder last month. Now I'm looking at the DSLR's.
I will say at times I spend hours watching videos on Vimeo because I find TV shows boring and a lot of reruns. At times I do stream them to a big smart TV's are nice. Keep up the good work film makers..

January 24, 2013 at 5:59AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Michael Bishop

What news of vimeo's pay to view service? When as an ordinary pro member will I be able to start making my content pay to view? Been a bit quiet on the subject lately.

February 13, 2013 at 12:39AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM