The video-sharing platform is launching two tools that allow videomakers to monetize their content.
As a video producer and curator, I've kept an eye on Vimeo -- not just because I watch web videos all day, but because it's a fascinating case study. The rise of the social web has brought wonderful, mostly free, services to millions of users, allowing them to create and share digital content on an unprecedented scale. But sigh! How to monetize all this engagement? While Facebook, YouTube, and other content-sharing sites built their business models on advertising, Vimeo played its cards a little differently. With its clean interface and cuddly community vibe, Vimeo has carved out a niche as the videomaker's video platform. Can a media platform really survive without flooding its audience with advertising? Could it survive simply by charging its users directly? Spearheaded by Kickstarter and Etsy, a new wave of startups are thriving by connecting creators with audiences, skimming a percentage of the crowd funding or sales generated in the process. Vimeo is joining these ranks today, announcing two new tools that will allow videomakers to generate revenue from their videos.
The first, "Tip Jar," is exactly what it sounds like. Vimeo users can invite viewers to make donations and get 85 percent of the cash (Vimeo takes 15 percent, in part to cover transaction costs. In comparison, Kickstarter takes five percent). The second and more exciting feature is a "pay-to-view" setup which will allow users to charge viewers for access to content, customizing the parameters to suit their needs. Vimeo plans to roll out a few pay-to-view videos this fall, with a full launch in early 2013. It's not the first time amateur and independent video creators have had an opportunity to monetize their work online; YouTube's partners program shares ad revenue with successful YouTube channels, for example.
However, Vimeo's Tip Jar and pay-to-view tools do open up a platform for all the videos that don't fit the mold of other distribution platforms (feature movies on Netflix, web series on YouTube) to make money. Enjoy those stunning time-lapse videos of the aurora borealis over Iceland? Don't forget to tip your filmmaker on the way out! For small independent productions, both shorts and features, though, the pay-to-view could be huge. If the success of Kickstarter (which has helped raise more than $70 million for film and video projects) is any indication, there could be a serious payoff for Vimeo too.