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Vimeo to Acquire Livestream, Launches Live-Video Broadcasting Service

IAC-owned Vimeo is diving into live-streaming internet video with a one-two punch.

Vimeo has reached an agreement to acquire Livestream, a professional-grade live video broadcasting provider. In addition, Vimeo on Tuesday is launching Vimeo Live, offering native live-streaming features for the first time in the platform’s 13-year history.

Financial terms of Vimeo’s purchase of Livestream weren’t disclosed. The companies expect the deal to close early in the fourth quarter. Privately held Livestream, founded in 2007, had raised $14.7 million from investors including Gannett Co.

The pact is the first major move under Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud, who was named to the top job this summer after heading its creator business unit. She said the Livestream acquisition is the biggest in Vimeo’s history; last year, Vimeo acquired white-label subscription VOD provider VHX.

“We see a huge opportunity in live streaming,” Sud said in an interview. “We feel every business, large and small, is using live video — and they need high-quality, professional tools to do it.”

Live-streaming has been the No. 1 most-requested feature from Vimeo creators, Sud said. Rolling that out became a top priority after Vimeo axed plans to launch its own direct-to-consumer subscription VOD business.

Initially, Vimeo Live (vimeo.com/live) is completely separate from Livestream. Once the deal closes, Vimeo plans to integrate Livestream’s offering into its core platform — promising to let customers capture, edit, stream, and archive live events, as well as host, distribute and monetize videos, all from a single console.

Brooklyn-based Livestream delivers more than 10 million events a year, watched by nearly 50 million viewers. Livestream customers have included ESPN, Spotify, the BBC, Tesla, Dow Jones, TED, and Tough Mudder. “Their team brings a lot of institutional knowledge and expertise in this space,” Sud said.

As part of Vimeo, “we can accelerate the adoption of professional-quality live video by combining our tools and capabilities with Vimeo’s video expertise and global scale,” Livestream co-founder and CEO Mark Kornfilt said in a statement.

Vimeo Live is a new subscription tier, starting at $75 per month. Customers can embed the video player on any third-party site, as with the Vimeo VOD product, and Vimeo Live includes a suite of analytics and marketing tools. “This is not a consumer-level product,” said Sud.

With the live-streaming service, Vimeo was focused on delivering high quality, Sud said. Vimeo Live supports live broadcasts in full 1080p HD with built-in cloud transcoding and adaptive bit-rate streaming. In addition, auto-archived live videos on Vimeo can be replaced with files to support 4K viewing.

In the future, the addition of Livestream’s syndication tools will let Vimeo creators distribute live broadcasts across social platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter. Vimeo also plans to integrate live-streaming with its over-the-top technology, enabling live content in branded apps for iOS and Android, as well as devices from Roku, Amazon, Samsung and others.

Livestream, which has about 180 employees, is based in Brooklyn with offices in L.A., London, Bangalore, India, and Ukraine. Manhattan-based Vimeo, which has a headcount of close to 250, doesn’t have any plans immediately to relocate the Livestream teams, according to Sud.

For the negotiations with Vimeo and IAC, Livestream enlisted Citi as exclusive financial adviser and Cooley LLP as legal counsel. Williams Mullen was legal counsel for IAC.

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