Vimeo to fund Maker Studios creators in exchange for exclusive windows

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LOS ANGELES — Vimeo has agreed to fund and distribute content in exclusive windows from creators at Disney-owned Maker Studios, yet another challenge to YouTube’s position as the go-to platform for first-run online video, Mashable has learned.

The collaboration agreement, which runs through 2015, has Vimeo funding a small number of original Maker content in exclusive windows on Vimeo On Demand, the largest open, global VOD platform. Maker’s community of more than 55,000 creators — making it the largest multi-channel network — will also be offered discounted Vimeo Pro accounts, including guidance on how to start monetizing the platform which, unlike YouTube, is not ad-supported.

SEE ALSO: Being a YouTuber Is Now a Real Business

The news comes just five weeks after a report that YouTube was scrambling to offer bonuses to top creators who sign multiyear deals with exclusivity, a new strategy to combat aggressive overtures from rivals like Facebook and video startup Vessel. Individuals with direct knowledge of the deals recently told Mashable that YouTube was indeed still vigorously courting its most lucrative creators to stanch the onrush of competition.

Of particular concern to Google’s video giant is Vessel, founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and poised to launch early this year, which is betting that an exclusivity window of up to three days for top YouTube talent will convince users to sign up for as little as $2.99 per month. Now it has Vimeo to reckon with, too.

Vimeo’s exclusivity windows will vary from project to project, and Maker’s creators are free to upload their videos to YouTube and other platforms once they expire.

“The opportunity came about to do two things with them,” Greg Clayman, Vimeo’s general manager of audience networks, told Mashable. “One was to fund original content, which would be exclusive to Vimeo for a period of time. By way of that, we introduce ourselves to the larger Marker community, and are getting in front of those creators to educate them to bring their content on their own to monetize it.”

No original programming has been announced yet because those deals have not been finalized. Maker is home to many top-tier YouTubers, including PewDiePie and Toby Turner (known as Tobuscus).

Vimeo has become a favorite platform for indie filmmakers and music artists for its high-quality player, robust support structure and close community. Whereas YouTube splits ad-revenue money with creators, Vimeo has no ads; instead, it takes 10% of all transactional revenue generated by on-demand, product sales and branded content deals.

“Maker is always excited to create original programs that reach audiences across platforms, and Vimeo will be a great partner to distribute new ideas,” said Courtney Holt, chief strategy officer at Maker.

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