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Vimeo On Demand Lets Filmmakers Sell Their Videos Direct to Audiences

Last week at SXSW, Vimeo announced that Don Hertzfeldt will be among the introductory group of filmmakers to use their new Vimeo On Demand platform. Hertzfeldt has always been very selective about how he distributes his work online, which may be the first sign that Vimeo is doing something right with this new service.

The new platform allows anybody who has signed up for Vimeo PRO to distribute their films online. Hertzfeldt is selling his new feature It’s Such a Beautiful Day for $2 (to view the film online for one week) or $6 (to download a DRM-free version).

Vimeo’s On Demand set-up is fully customizable. Films of any length can be distributed, and prices can be set by filmmakers as can viewing periods for films. Here are some of its key features:

90/10 revenue split: You keep 90% of revenue after transaction fees, and we cover all delivery costs.

Your audience can watch anywhere: Your work is available online, as well as on mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs, all in gorgeous HD quality.

Customizable design: You can completely personalize your Vimeo On Demand page to match your work and bring it to life.

Flexibility + control: Sell films, episodes, and more at the price you want, anywhere in the world you want — including on your own website.

I haven’t delved into all the particulars yet, but Vimeo On Demand appears to be quite filmmaker-friendly. The system isn’t perfect: for example, they might be better off with a credits-based system instead of the currently cumbersome pay-per-view model. But such issues are resolvable over time. The important thing is that Vimeo has spent years building a solid foundation including its elegant video player and a large userbase interested in independent filmmaking. Their On Demand service is a positive development, and has potential to be a game-changer for indie animators and filmmakers.

  • Pretty cool topic. I dig that credit based system idea. So the only way that could work would be if there was a general standard price set per video right?

    So maybe having an option where content creators could enroll their videos in some VimeDough (i know, i know, stick with me though) program where they agree a standard price ($1 say) is set and as incentive for enrolling and taking a hit on setting a custom higher price-per-video, a creator gets access to all these VimeDough buyers/holders and their impulse buying habits. Maybe Vimeo throws in a slightly lower take on their end or something to incentivise the creator? This would encourage more creators to get in the program and get’s Vimeo to grow it’s “fake” money system perhaps?

    I know most people, once they convert their money, for instance in League of Legends, their tendency to impulse buy shoots up heavily and though $2 a vid might be normal for Hertzfeldt w/ his large fanbase, it’s going be harder for up and comers to warrant. Curious if you have any info on how YouTubes subscription based system is working out by chance? Does Xbox live and all those platforms handle it this way?

    • youtube tried the online-rental/pay per view thing a few years ago, and it failed miserably. Many online pay-per-view services failed so I’m curious how vimeo sees this succeeding where many many others have failed.

      I don’t think youtube has launched the subscription based system, and if it did, probably only one or two bigger channels have it. I don’t see a subscription system working, most people follow many many channels, do they expect users to subscribe to each one and pay subscription fees for all of them?

      I would love for this to work but as history has shown us this will fail. But at least they are giving creators the option to try it, maybe this won’t have mass appeal but maybe it will appeal to just enough niche people that it will work out well for a small selection of creators.

  • jmahon

    this is going to be the start of some beeaauuuutiful innovation. Not just with short films, but in terms of this format of production.

  • Max W

    Pretty great example of what the future holds… the only thing that’s a little off-putting is paying $200/year to be a vimeo pro member, on top of the 90/10 split (which is a very fair split). I guess if you end up making thousands off this, then $200/year isn’t so bad at all.

    • jonhanson

      The problem is I’d guess 95% of pro member won’t be able to pass the $200 mark, so it’s a bit of a risk.

  • Greg

    This is cool, didn’t they already have a tip jar? I wonder how tips fared. Anyway we’ve been waiting for this, vimeo’s audience is great and informed

  • The internet is full of stingy people. most of them think everything should be free and will go to great lengths to pirate EVERYTHING. This isn’t gonna work (though, I wish to the contrary )

    • While you can’t ignore the fact piracy exists, Vimeo on Demand seems to be pretty pro-artist with it’s 90% profit cut and pro-consumer offering DRM-free videos. When you are extremely honest with the internet, there will be enough people who will be willing to pay, just look at how successful online digital download campaigns have been for Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Indie Game: The Movie.

  • Ikas

    wouldnt netflix stand a better chance as a distributor than vimeo?

  • Kevin Parry

    I can see how this is a great option for feature-length projects with no distribution options, as viewers are used to paying for that length of film. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone can get through that pay wall with a short film.

  • Mike Scott

    Well there’s a step in the right direction I think.

  • Elana Pritchard

    Seems like you would already have to have a large, established fan base for that to work.

  • steve

    I tried Vimeo on Demand…. paid the fee and uploaded a feature. And then I took it down. They were nice enough to refund my money. The problem with them is they don’t have any significant traffic. The traffic they have is mostly other filmmakers it seems. Yes, they say ya gotta promote your own film bla bla bla, and put it on your site etc….

    they have a lovely platform, but they are still geeks who miss the marketing picture.