Before Netflix came calling, movie rentals were Blockbuster‘s bread and butter. But pay-per-view rentals aren’t dead yet: That’s why services such as Redbox still exist. And now Vimeo has begun teasing out an early preview of its own pay-per-view service for independent films.
On Vimeo Movies, you can now rent one of six independent films, including titles such as the Anonymous documentary We Are Legion and Sons Of The Clouds: The Last Colony, a film about the lives of refugee camp inhabitants in the Western Sahara.
Vimeo Movies is the second offering from Vimeo that’s part of its Creator Services feature, which also includes Tip Jar, a way for fans to make small cash payments to filmmakers on the platform.
Since so much decision-making power is left in the hands, and wallets, of filmmakers, rental periods and pricing can fluctuate quite a bit. Prices to rent one of the initial six films range from $4.99 to $9.00. That’s fairly steep to rent a film that’s not exclusive to Vimeo, and that’s where Vimeo Movies could face a drawback: In many cases, viewers will likely be able to pay less to watch the same films. Most of the initial movies are available through Netflix (but as DVDs, not streaming). Walmart, for instance, offers the LCD Soundsystem documentary, Shut Up And Play The Hits, through its VUDU movie streaming service for a $3.99, 48-hour rental. On Vimeo, the same film is $6.99, and only available in the U.K., but the creator set the rental period to a full 30 days.
But it’s quite possible that Vimeo’s added extras for filmmakers will be attractive enough that they’ll want to heavily promote viewing on Vimeo over other platforms. For example, in addition to the ability to set their own prices, filmmakers will also be able to keep track of who’s watching their films so they can hone their marketing efforts. For viewers, the incentive to rent through Vimeo Movies is a combination of the desire to support filmmakers and the convenience of longer rental periods than other pay-per-view streaming services and Vimeo Everywhere, which supports viewing on a ton of mobile devices, gaming consoles, streaming players, and smart TVs.
“These films…are exemplars of a new age of creative sustainability, one in which creators can sell their own work directly to their fans on their own terms,” Vimeo’s Jeremy Boxer says in a blog post.