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Vimeo Launches VOD Network to Let Partners Rent Videos to Viewers

Brands like The Atlantic and CBS can now embed content with Vimeo’s video catalog and rent it out to viewers.

Vimeo Launches VOD Network to Let Partners Rent Videos to Viewers
[Photo: Flickr user William Brawley]

Today at the Sundance Film Festival, the video-sharing service Vimeo announced the launch of its Vimeo On Demand Publisher Network, which will allow other companies to sell ad-free content from Vimeo’s VOD catalog directly on their sites. The opening volley of partners includes The Atlantic, TEN: The Enthusiast Network, and CBS Interactive Media Group.

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The deal will let publishers rent out Vimeo’s VOD content to viewers on their sites through its dedicated transactional video player, which will be playable on any device. Viewers still pay full price to rent or purchase Vimeo’s content, but they’re directly embedded in the publishers’ pages and easier to access. The publishers, on the other hand, get a bit of the rental and purchase fees–along with the opportunity to try out the transactional video model for themselves without having to create any content. Plus, viewers watching embedded Vimeo On Demand content will end up spending more time on the publishers’ websites.

“We’ve long admired, and often featured in our Video section, the content and creators that participate in the Vimeo ecosystem,” said Kimberly Lau, VP and General Manager, The Atlantic Digital. “Integrating Vimeo On Demand onto our site provides us with an opportunity to explore new distribution and monetization models for video—a medium we’re investing in heavily as we build both our content and audience.”

The video player itself just received a major update by switching to mostly HTML5 and using as little Flash as possible–what amounted to “open heart surgery” according to Vimeo president Dae Mellencamp. Officially announced two weeks ago, the update introduced the in-player Video On Demand purchases, loads twice as fast, and cuts video starting time in half once the “play” button is pressed.

This evolved video player lets Vimeo’s VOD partners streamline the viewer experience: Instead of linking to where paid content can be seen, partners can just embed the video and viewers choose whether to pay. It’s not just a reduction in link jumps from context to purchasable content; it’s an evolution in content delivery, since Vimeo’s Video On Demand catalog is expansive with independent films and documentaries–and likely the only place on the Internet to find them.

Vimeo On Demand launched almost two years ago in March 2013 and was lauded from the get-go for letting content creators keep 90% of the rental fee, as opposed to Apple’s 30% industry-standard cut.

Vimeo On Demand offers options to either rent or purchase content just like YouTube, though Vimeo has no monthly or annual payment options to subscribe to channels. However, any payment through YouTube requires viewers to purchase through Google Wallet; Vimeo accepts payment from all the standard credit cards and PayPal.

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