Last month, we wrote about Vimeo’s first foray into original content when Joss Whedon made the surprise announcement that his latest film, ‘In Your Eyes,’ would be distributed exclusively through Vimeo On Demand.
At the time, we asked Vimeo’s General Manager of Audience Networks, Greg Clayman, whether the company intends to pursue more exlusive distribution rights to films or TV shows. “In 2013 we started experimenting with title acquisitions, but recently unveiled a $10M fund to accelerate our investment in bringing quality individual titles and catalogs suited to Vimeo’s unique audience to our VOD platform,” Clayman responded.
Vimeo today announced the first project that will receive at least part of the $10 million. Six new episodes of ‘High Maintenance’ – a web series from the husband-and-wife team Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair that centers on a nameless cannabis dealer as he makes deliveries – will be financed by Vimeo and launch exclusively on Vimeo On Demand.
The 13-episode series first debuted on Vimeo last year, and viewers can catch up on the series for free at https://vimeo.com/channels/highmaintenance. The six new episodes are set to debut later this year.
“We’re all huge fans of High Maintenance and couldn’t be happier to make our first original programming investment in a show that’s developed organically on Vimeo,” said Kerry Trainor, CEO, Vimeo. “Earlier this year we announced an initial $10 Million investment to license content for distribution on Vimeo On Demand from creators seeking alternatives to ad-based models and this is an exciting next step for the platform.”
Whereas Amazon, Hulu, and even Netflix have launched original series’ with varying degrees of success, Vimeo is mitigating some of the risk involved by launching a follow-up series that is already highly regarded. Netflix has already saved ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘The Killing’ and Deadline yesterday reported that Hulu is eyeing a new season of the just-canceled ‘Community.’ While Vimeo is not saving ‘High Maintenance,’ entering the original content fray with a series that has a following is a smart move. Its success – or lack of success – will be a good bellwether for future original content investments.