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Vimeo Announces Revenue Options: Tip Jar and Pay-to-View Videos

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While Vimeo enjoys a strong reputation in the online video community, industry watchers often wonder when it's going to turn its good will into real revenue. The company took two steps in that direction today with the announcement of Vimeo Tip Jar and "pay-to-view" videos.

Vimeo Members Can Work for Tips

Tip Jar fits in with Vimeo's young and creative spirit, even if it does equate creative professionals with the baristas at Starbucks. Available today to Vimeo Plus and Pro subscribers, Tip Jar gives them the option of soliciting donations from viewers. Those viewers can tip with credit cards or a PayPal account. The minimum tip is $.99, while the maximum is $500. Viewers don't need to be a Vimeo member to tip. Of the money brought it, 85 percent goes to the video creator and 15 percent goes to Vimeo. Creator payments are made exclusively through PayPal accounts.

Tip Jar works through browsers, and will likely be added to Vimeo's mobile apps in 2013, said Vimeo president Dae Mellencamp.

Vimeo Tip Jar

Caption: Vimeo's new Tip Jar option for Vimeo Pro members.

Erecting a Vimeo Pay Wall

A more potentially lucrative announcement is that Vimeo is finally allowing a pay-per-view (PPV) option, which it calls pay-to-view. While announced today, the service won't be widely available to Vimeo Pro subscribers until early in 2013. It will allow Vimeo's movie creators to finally charge for their works.

"We think the time is right for a different approach," said Mellencamp, noting that trends such as the success of Kickstarter campaigns make her feel that viewers are ready to financially support independent movies on Vimeo.

Sometime in October, Vimeo will begin beta testing the service. Mellencamp won't comment on what titles will be available, how much they'll list for, or what percentage Vimeo will take. The customizable service will let creators set the price, rental duration, and more themselves.

Vimeo members have been asking for monetization options for a long time, Mellencamp says, adding that the two options announced today can be combined: a creator could put a video out for tips for a few weeks in order to generate buzz, then begin charging. Alternatively, a creator could charge viewers who want to see a new movie first, then later open it up to everyone with a tip jar.

Vimeo introduced a music store for soundtracks in September, 2011, and Vimeo Pro for small business video hosting in August, 2011.

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