Vimeo has unveiled a slate of original programming produced in partnership with some the platform’s most successful creators, with more fresh titles promised in 2016.
“This is a huge step for us,” said Sam Toles, VP content and acquisitions development.
“We have licensed content exclusively (before), and put our money on the line in exchange for those rights, but now, I think, it’s not just about financial resources. It’s the weight and influence of our brand and putting the company’s mark on content that we, as an organization, believe in passionately,” he told StreamDaily.
First out of the gate will be Bianca Del Rio’s Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special: Live from Austin, expected to drop on the platform in December. The comedy special, executive produced by Roy Haylock (aka Bianca Del Rio, pictured), David Charpentier and Jacob Slane for Producer Entertainment, is Vimeo’s first original stand-up special, and one of two comedies to be released under the originals’ banner.
Darby Forever, due in December 2016, is a short film written by and starring comedian Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live).
Vimeo has also signed on to produce a new season of The Outs, the much-talked-about web series from creator Adam Goldman. It’s expected to drop year-end 2016.
Vimeo has agreed to fully fund all three productions, said Toles. Under the agreement, the creators retain IP ownership. The originals will each be sold on Vimeo On Demand for a transactional fee (in keeping with Vimeo’s established premium content model). Once Vimeo recoups the money it put into the project, the bulk of the revenue share (90/10 split) will also go to the creator. Toles said premium fees have yet to be determined.
The creators behind the new slate of originals all have a track record with Vimeo. The original season of The Outs debuted on Vimeo On Demand in 2012 where the the six-part series gained fervent critical and fan support. (Paper Magazine called it “the best web series, ever.”) Comedian and drag queen Haylock (winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race) first released his Birthday Roast on Vimeo on Demand earlier this summer to huge fan demand. Darby Forever, meanwhile, is set to be directed by Oz Rodriguez, a long-time Vimeo creator.
Toles said the existing relationship was critical to the decision-making process when it came time to select the kind of creators and programming the platform wanted to support.
In all three cases, said Toles, “the content is coming from a creator who put their blood, sweat, tears and money to produce content, and who is also able to get the attention of so many people and the press.”
Vimeo has previously dipped its toes into originals’ production when, in 2014, it put up the money for six episodes of the second season of High Maintenance series. The series, by husband and wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, first debuted on Vimeo On Demand in 2012, attracting much media buzz. The show has since been picked up by HBO where a new season is set to air in 2016.
Toles said the trajectory of Vimeo’s newest originals may not include a linear run, but the platform’s support, the form of money and their “original” designation, is intended as a signal to viewers and the broader media industry that Vimeo believes each is worth the attention.
“Instead of just saying, ‘You’re great. Here’s an award.’ We’re saying, ‘You’re great…and we, as a company, believe in you,'” said Toles. “We are willing to step up and put some dollars into furthering (the creators’s) careers and, hopefully, keep them making content for Vimeo for many years to come.”
Toles said Vimeo is currently in talks with “numerous” other creators, adding the platform has recently created a non-executive role to focus specifically on the development of original series.
“We anticipate announcing significantly more original productions as we move into 2016,” he said.