Vimeo launches pay-to-watch video service

Video producers can now charge viewers who watch their movies online—at least on Vimeo’s website. The video-sharing site lets creators set their price and keep most of the profits under the Vimeo On Demand paywall service, which could be a boon for independent filmmakers seeking a simple way to distribute their work and make some money of it.

Vimeo on Demand allows video producers to choose how much they will charge viewers for their movie, how long it’s available to watch, and which countries it’s available for viewing. The service has been in the works for a few months, before Vimeo announced at this week’s South by Southwest Interactive + Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It is now available to all Vimeo’s Pro subscribers.

Vimeo is offering video creators the biggest slice of the revenue—90 percent after transaction fees. That’s a competitive rate compared to what independent developers can expect from Apple’s App Store, where Apple keeps 30 percent of all sales. (Movie studios, of course, can command more favorable terms at Apple’s iTunes Store.) With Vimeo On Demand, the minimum charge for a view is 99 cents, so at around 15 million members and 93 million monthly views, Vimeo would seem to be a good platform for filmmakers looking for added revenue from their creations.

Several titles are already available on demand. It’s Such a Beautiful Day is an award-nominated animation film, which the creators are charging $2 to stream online of $6 to download. There’s also the We Are Legion documentary about hacktivists Anonymous ($4.99 to watch), and Sons of The Clouds, a documentary about political and human rights issues in Western Sahara. All videos are available on compatible Vimeo devices, which include iOS and Android, Apple TV and Roku set top boxes, Xbox Live, and a variety of other supported players.

Vimeo on Demand is the second monetization method for filmmakers from the service. Last year, Vimeo introduced Tip Jar, which allows viewers to donate small amounts of cash to their favorite producers. YouTube remains the biggest video platform with more than 800 million users monthly, but only offers advertising monetization options.

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