Continuing as YouTube’s foil, Vimeo is releasing a brand new “Tip Jar” feature today and has announced plans to launch a paywall option for creatives in 2013 that lets Vimeo PRO subscribers set up pay-to-view videos.
Vimeo holds a special place in the hearts of many as an artistic video network, but the site has had a rocky history and is certainly moving in an interesting direction. The tip jar is a pretty simple and safe move that should bring creators a few free cups of coffee here and there, but the pay-to-view service coming next year, however, is far riskier, and contrasts YouTube’s ad-focused network.
Unless you consider YouTube’s isolated movie rentals, both major video networks have always been completely free and open — a trait that helped both services and online video as a whole grow. Vimeo’s upcoming paywalls may soon shrink the service’s amount of open content and hinder its browsability, but it could also bring in additional premium content and help ease users into the idea of paying for content again.
From Dae Mellencamp, President of Vimeo:
Creators have asked us for quite some time to help them monetize their work, but we think it needed an approach that put the controls back into the hands of the creators themselves. We designed these tools to allow video creators to be as flexible as possible while providing the ability to financially succeed at various levels of viewership.
Regardless of what happens, it looks like Vimeo is introducing the ability for creators to set optional paywalls gradually. The feature will only be available initially to PRO subscribers — not Plus, so we’ll only see businesses taking advantage of pay-to-view, unless it rolls out to everyone else.
If YouTube is the next generation of television, then Vimeo holds that role for film, and the latter’s commitment to helping creators appears as strong as ever. With today’s announcements, Vimeo’s heart looks to be in the right place, but paywalled videos are definitely worth keeping an eye on as a major shift for the company.