Vimeo Enters Crowded TV Fray

The video-sharing site Vimeo, which predates YouTube, will join the crowded online-TV market, according to Bloomberg. Vimeo will soon introduce an on-demand video service akin to Netflix and Hulu, and is lining up TV shows and staff it hopes will convince people to cough up a monthly fee for yet another TV subscription. “We’re going to spend real money on programming for the first time ever, and put real marketing money behind it," IAC Chief Executive Officer Joey Levin said in an interview at CES in Las Vegas.

Levin, a former investment banker, has been flying to Los Angeles to meet with executives, production companies and record labels. Vimeo, which has been known primarily as a site offering tools to filmmakers, will commission more original series like “High Maintenance,“ the popular web series about a weed delivery man that Time Warner’s HBO later picked up. Vimeo will also acquire and license shows that have already aired elsewhere.

Vimeo may not spend as much to nab content and talent as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, but its shows also won’t be confused with the user-generated content seen on YouTube or Snapchat. The company is after edgy, risky and provocative programming. That could include documentaries, action sports, comedy or drama, but not traditional romantic comedies or superhero fare. Levin declined to provide Vimeo’s expected budget. “Our content will be the kind that gets your heart rate going," he said.“We’ll look at what our audience watches, and organize that data to help us program."

IAC faces much more intense competition. Alphabet’s YouTube is the most popular video site in the world, while Netflix, Amazon and Hulu rule the paid market, having amassed millions of subscribers. There’s also an ever-growing crop of new online options for the TV watcher: AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Time Warner’s HBO Now and Verizon’s go90, to name a few. Vimeo’s advantage, Levin said, is that millions of people already have a positive association with the site, and thousands of filmmakers already use it as well.

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