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Vimeo is upping the ante in trying to bring independent film projects to its online video-on-demand service, announcing that it has set aside $10 million to help creators fund and promote their works on its platform. 

The $10 million fund will cover a range of programs, including expansions of the previously announced crowdfunding promotion, its film festival promotions and grants to projects “suited to Vimeo’s unique audience.”

“The direct-distribution movement gains momentum every day, and we are fully committed to empowering creators with a vibrant alternative to the ad-dominated online video ecosystem for monetizing content,” Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor said in announcing the program.

SEE ALSO: Vimeo Inks Exclusive Digital Deals for 13 Films from Toronto International Film Festival

Under Vimeo’s crowdfunding program, projects that have successfully raised at least $10,000 through Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sites are eligible for promotional support in exchange for an exclusive window on Vimeo On Demand.

The $10 million also will go toward an expansion of film fest outreach, which Vimeo kicked off with the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, to any film that has premiered at one of the 20 leading global film festivals throughout 2014. Under that offer, Vimeo offers filmmakers $10,000 up front in return for an exclusive digital-distribution window (either 30 days or until Vimeo recoups the $10,000). The company has cut deals for 13 films from Toronto.

In addition, Vimeo said that filmmakers who have successfully raised $10,000-plus through crowdfunding or have had a film premiere at one of the 20 top film fests will be eligible for one year free of Vimeo Pro — its subscription-based video hosting service, normally $199 annually — if they distribute works on Vimeo On Demand.

Vimeo’s announcement of the fund is timed for SXSW 2014. At the Austin confab, Vimeo will host two screenings: documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,” which will launch later this year with Vimeo; and the world premiere of “DamNation,” a doc about how dams are affecting the environment sponsored by apparel company Patagonia, which will be released in June on the platform.

Vimeo On Demand, launched last March, now has more than 6,000 titles available for purchase or rental. Creators can choose their price, viewing format (stream or download), and geographical availability. With the VOD service, Vimeo offers filmmakers a 90/10 revenue split, with 90% going to the content owners. Earlier this year Vimeo added in-player transaction support, allowing creators to sell works on their own sites or embedded across the web.

New York-based Vimeo, a subsidiary of Barry Diller’s IAC, has 22 million registered members. For the month of January, Vimeo had 168 million unique visitors worldwide (up 80% year over year) and hit an all-time high of 41 million uniques in the U.S., according to comScore.

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