Vimeo Scraps Plans for Subscription Video Service

barry diller and joey levin Split - H 2016
Getty Images; Courtesy of IAC

The IAC-owned company is dissolving its development team as it plans to refocus on its creator community.

Vimeo is no longer moving forward with plans for a subscription video service, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

The company is said to be refocusing its efforts on its creator community, which uses the service to distribute videos without advertising for recurring or one-time purchases. As a part of the move, Vimeo will dissolve its development team, which had been working to acquire programming for a subscription offering.

"Vimeo has confirmed that it has decided not to proceed in offering a subscription based original program service scheduled to begin in ’18," a Vimeo spokeswoman said in a statement. The company declined to comment further about what the change in strategy would mean for the business. 

The video streamer, which is owned by Barry Diller's IAC, announced last November that it planned to spend "tens of millions" to build out a competitor of Netflix, Hulu and the newly launched YouTube Red. Under interim CEO Joey Levin, who also serves as CEO of IAC and took over day-to-day responsibilities at Vimeo following the June 2016 departure of CEO Kerry Trainor, Vimeo wanted to reposition its business as more consumer-facing through the addition of the subscription service. The company already has a subscription business in which it sells professional tools to its more than 750,000 creators. 

"Vimeo has the once-in-a-generation opportunity to, following in Netflix's footsteps, deliver compelling subscription viewing experiences for consumers in the market for pay TV," Levin said in a November shareholder letter. The video service was expected to launch in 2018.  

Vimeo had previously dabbled in funding original programming, including web series High Maintenance, before it made its move to HBO. But a move into a subscription service required a more robust content acquisition strategy, and in March the company hired Paramount Pictures' Alana Mayo to head up its original development efforts. It also tapped Bunim-Murray's Kesila Childers and Hulu's Kelly Miller to round out its development and acquisitions teams. 

"This was a difficult decision – the idea of pursuing an SVOD service for Vimeo has always been intriguing, and I would have loved to see the incredibly talented Alana Mayo’s programming vision realized here at Vimeo," Levin said in a statement confirming Mayo's departure. "She and her team are creative, sharp, risk-takers, and I believe will all, to a person, have an incredible future in programming. But the opportunity ahead for Vimeo to empower creators is too large and too important for us to attack with anything other than absolute focus and clarity."

Building out a subscription video service that could compete with the already well-established Netflix, which has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide, and newer entrants such as Amazon and YouTube Red, would have been no easy task for Vimeo, which has long positioned itself as a more professional alternative to YouTube. The company had planned on leveraging its existing marketplace of videos to give the service a jump-start, but has ultimately decided not to pursue that strategy. 

June 26, 10:46 a.m. Updated to include a statement from Joey Levin confirming Alana Mayo's departure from Vimeo.