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Vimeo to Invest in Content from Disney’s Maker Studios YouTube Creators for Paid VOD

Maker Studios has cut a deal with Vimeo to help some of its smaller YouTube creators cash in on their video fare — off of YouTube.

Vimeo and Disney-owned Maker, the biggest YouTube multichannel network, have formed a partnership to provide tools to Maker’s network of 55,000 creators for distributing their content on Vimeo’s paid video-on-demand platform. Also under the pact, Vimeo will fund and distribute original content from Maker talent in exclusive windows on the Vimeo On Demand service throughout 2015.

“Thus far, YouTube creators have been monetizing through ads,” said Greg Clayman, g.m. of Vimeo Audience Networks. “This lets Maker go to their creators to choose to window content, or distribute original content, in addition free, ad-supported video.”

Maker already windows some content off YouTube, such as via Maker.tv, but still sees YouTube as its primary distribution outlet. The MCN positioned the Vimeo agreement as a way to test out another option for creators. “Maker is always excited to create original programs that reach audiences across platforms, and Vimeo will be a great partner to distribute new ideas,” Maker said in a statement.

Vimeo, too, has worked with YouTube creators to provide new ways to monetize content, Clayman noted. For example, RocketJump last fall launched the final season of “Video Game High School” free on YouTube on a weekly basis, but with the option to buy the entire season ahead of time on Vimeo and other platforms.

As for Vimeo’s specific content investments in Maker talent, Clayman said there are a few possibilities but there’s nothing official yet. “It’s a fabulous talent pool to work with,” he said. “Maker has tremendous reach in terms of promoting content, across their network.”

Another company that’s aiming to lure YouTubers into exclusive windows is Vessel, founded by Jason Kilar, the former CEO of Hulu. With Vessel’s service, partners must agree to grant an exclusive 72-hour window. However, Clayman said, Vimeo’s approach affords content creators full control of their distribution. “We’re not saying, ‘Hey, put your content here three days in advance and we’ll charge X,'” he said.

At the same time, Vimeo — a unit of IAC — is considering introducing a subscription-video service of some kind. “The leap from transactional billing to recurring billing is something we are in the works on,” Clayman said. However, the company hasn’t determined it subscription channels would be curated solely by content owners, or if Vimeo might bundle content from multiple creators.

Meanwhile, YouTube itself has said it’s looking at rolling out a video-subscription plan, and the Google-owned video site has launched a program to fund content from top creators.

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