Vimeo Courts European Filmmakers, Viewers With Subtitles

Vimeo, the online video service with 170 million monthly users, introduced new features for international filmmakers and viewers, a bid to stand out in a market led by Netflix Inc. and YouTube.

Filmmakers who use Vimeo will be able to caption and subtitle their videos in dozens of languages, Chief Executive Officer Kerry Trainor said in an interview. The New York-based company can also now accept payment in euros.

“The world is wide open,” Trainor said. “Creators are just learning they can sell their videos. We have a global, open video delivery system.”

The features will help Vimeo attract more international customers for a nascent on-demand service, especially in Europe, its second biggest market after the U.S. Vimeo, owned by Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, makes most of its revenue from the 500,000-plus filmmakers who pay for access to its services, such as the captioning tools. It began, in Trainor’s words, as a “workflow platform for creators.”

The vast majority of viewers watch for free. Trainor is out to change that with Vimeo On Demand, a service filmmakers can use to sell or rent series, shorts and films at a price of their choosing, often $5 to $15. Vimeo takes a 10 percent cut, just as Apple Inc.’s iTunes store collects a percentage on music, films and TV shows.

The company also plans to offer a subscription service in which customers pay a flat fee for access to videos.

Crowded Field

A few hundred thousand people have purchased with Vimeo On Demand since its March 2013 debut, according to Trainor. Growth has been steady, he said, with revenue doubling in the past few months and Trainor seeing an influx of potential competitors.

Jason Kilar, the former CEO of Hulu LLC, plans to introduce a subscription service for short-form videos called Vessel. Otter Media, co-owned by AT&T Inc. and former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, has acquired majority stakes in Crunchyroll Inc. and Fullscreen Inc.

All of these companies want to convince YouTube stars to offer their videos for sale, augmenting the money the artists earn from YouTube advertisements. At a conference last month, CEO Susan Wojcicki said YouTube, part of Google Inc., was exploring the idea of a subscription-based service.

Vimeo has deals with YouTube producers, such as Phil DeFranco, Joey Graceffa and The Orchard. Freddie Wong, a popular YouTube creator whose primary channel has 7.2 million subscribers, made several hundred thousand dollars in one week selling the new season of “Video Game High School” on Vimeo.

“That’s all gravy for them,” Trainor said. “They are even seeing sales of old seasons out for free.”

Europe First

The company has yet to sell many movies overseas. While more than 70 percent of the company’s audience is outside the U.S., the vast majority of paying customers for Vimeo on Demand are in North America, Trainor said.

Vimeo has targeted Europe first. Fans of the web series “High Maintenance” will be able to watch it in eight languages, including French, German, Spanish and Italian, and buy it using euros.

South America and Asia are next. Vimeo has translated its website into Japanese, and will offer it in Russian, Korean and Portuguese some time next year.

“We want to be the open platform for that premium video experience where people can earn more money than they can in an advertising-supported world,” Trainor said. “This is for anyone who wants to sell at any length in any format and any genre.”

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