By Sahil Patel
Just like HBO, CBS, and potentially YouTube, Vimeo plans to get into the subscription video game, too.
In an interview with Recode, Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor said his company, which is owned by Barry Diller’s IAC, is “working on” launching a subscription video service. “The shovels are in the ground,” he said, with the hopes of introducing the service sometime next year.
Trainer’s announcement comes as YouTube is also mulling a foray into the subscription, ad-free video space. YouTube is “early in the process,” according to CEO Susan Wojcicki, during a session at the Code/Mobile conference. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users. But there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”
While not as big as YouTube, Vimeo claims to average 160–170 million unique viewers per month, citing comScore data. Right now, the company’s core business is its transactional Vimeo On Demand platform, which has grown to more than 13,000 titles since launch. Individual titles are selling in more than a 100 countries in a matter of days, the company said.
With success there, Vimeo believes SVOD is a natural extension, and another way to continue distributing premium content — and without ads — to its audience.
And premium content is a major element of Vimeo’s move into transactional and SVOD. The company has made a concerted effort in the past year to score distribution deals with festival-winning independent filmmakers, film distributors (like Cinedigm), brands and media companies, and even YouTube creators.
On that last front, Vimeo has deals with the likes of Phil DeFranco, Taryn Southern, and the team behind “Video Game High School” (which is selling all three seasons on Vimeo while the third season continues to air on YouTube).
Vimeo has also entered the original programming business, agreeing to finance new episodes of the critically acclaimed indie web series “High Maintenance,” which debuts on Vimeo On Demand next month.
So Vimeo’s move toward SVOD is not wholly surprising. That said, Trainor did not specify how the service will function in terms of pricing and available content. That will go a long way in determining the viability of Vimeo as an SVOD player — but we can say the same thing about YouTube. In fact, we can say the same thing about HBO and its plans to launch a subscription streaming service in 2015.