Online video-sharing site Vimeo is increasing its investment in original programming, the company announced this morning, as it detailed its plans for three more original series, including a second season of the popular web series “The Outs,” a passion project from SNL star Aidy Bryant called “Darby Forever,” and an original comedy special.
The expansion of Vimeo’s original programs comes following the sale of “High Maintenance” to HBO earlier this year. That web series, which gained notoriety as Vimeo’s first-ever original, followed the adventures of a Brooklyn pot dealer, and became one the all-time, top-selling releases for Vimeo on Demand. It was also the first web series that HBO acquired outright, the network said at the time.
Today, a number of top-tier streaming video services, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and even HBO and Showtime which have both launched over-the-top offerings, are investing in original programming as a way to attract audiences as well as cut down on the costs associated with licensing content from other studios by bringing production more in-house.
With Vimeo, however, the company’s larger goal is to strategically position itself as a place for creators and filmmakers to express themselves artistically. The creators offer a different vibe from a number of YouTube’s stars, who tend to attract a younger demographic and often feature the stars performing in their own semi-scripted series, doing things like parody videos, comedic skits, or offering tips ranging from life advice to makeup tutorials, among other things.
On Vimeo, many creators are producing films and series, not videoblogs.
Explains the company, “Vimeo Originals can stretch their creative wings past the boundaries of required running times or focus-group-approved plotlines…We’re dedicated to supporting creators no matter what length their story requires or what subject they’re most passionate about.”
The new originals include “The Outs,” an LGBT series from Adam Goldman, whose first season has received praise from Vogue, which said it should be a TV show, and The Atlantic Monthly, which said the season one finale was one of the best episodes of TV in 2013.
“Darby Forever” star Aidy Bryant of SNL fame wrote and starred in a short film about a shopgirl named Darby who escapes into daydreams. The film also features Retta from “Parks and Recreation” and Natasha Lyonne from “Orange is the New Black.”
The third original, “Bianca Del Rio’s Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special: Live from Austin,” features the unfiltered comic who won season 6 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” last year, and has been named a comic to watch by Variety in 2015.
Vimeo hints that these few originals are just the start of further expansions into this area in the future, noting that there are more series and films on the way soon.
According to AdAge, the company plans to spend at least $10 million on content next year, including an increased investment in original programming.
Vimeo recoups this investment by selling the individual films and series, more like Amazon Video or iTunes does, rather than subscription services like Netflix or Hulu…At least, for now.
It makes sense that if Vimeo can ramp up its investment to the point that it has a good number of originals available at any one time, a consumer-facing subscription offering would make sense at a later date – especially as the company already manages subscription services on the flip side of its business, with plans for professionals, creators, and other businesses.