Vimeo raises prices for heavy users – by several thousand dollars in some cases

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As part of a shift in strategy, video hosting site Vimeo has notified popular creators of the steep price increases.

Originally launched as an “indie” creative platform that billed itself as an alternative to YouTube, Vimeo is striving to redefine itself as a B2B software company that focuses on offering tools for live events, webinars, training, company town halls and content monetization.

This move, however, sets the site up for a battle against some of its longtime users.

In mid-March 2022, the company began notifying some users of what it characterized as the 1% of bandwidth users who typically pay a few hundred dollars a year to use the service. Under the new pricing, however, quotes to stay stretch into the thousands of dollars.

Vimeo is also used by broadcast designers, creatives, agencies, and marketing and design departments to create and share portfolios, promo and graphic drafts, and other content they create.

The service makes it easy to upload video clips and share them using unique URLs that patrons can review or embed on a portfolio site for potential clients to watch.

It is not immediately clear how many of these types of users could be affected by further price increases, although it seems likely that most would remain below the thresholds.

Vimeo says accounts using more than 2-3 terabytes of bandwidth per month, which doesn’t include the vast majority of its users, are being targeted for higher rates or asked to move their content elsewhere.

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The change is hitting independent content creators particularly hard.

Many of them associate Vimeo with Patreon, a site that allows creators to sell subscriptions to exclusive content, including videos. Vimeo has been widely touted as a good solution to use with Patreon because it offers a key setting that gives creators more tight control over embedding videos, limiting the ability for non-subscribers to access them.

The main embed feature enjoyed by Patreon users is the ability to only allow embed code to run on certain site URLs, in this case Patreon.

YouTube allows “unlisted” videos that don’t show up in its search results and would require a user to correctly guess a random string of characters to get to it, but it’s also possible for a moderately knowledgeable user to enter the code to embed Patreon or other membership sites and share the full URL with a random token or embed it on a public page, essentially removing the need to pay to view it.

Patreon is beta testing its own video hosting solution, so this is an option for some users. Another option is to migrate to YouTube, although there is the issue of being able to limit embeds on a more granular level.

There are a variety of other video hosting services at a wide range of prices, but Vimeo remains one of the only ones with the domain name integration feature.

JWPlayer has a way to limit access to videos from other sites, but it requires more complicated implementation, much like similar features in Cloudflare Stream. Wistia has a similar feature that’s pretty easy to implement, but its pro plan starts at $99 per month.

Vimeo is still releasing plans that seem to be aimed at more casual users and start at around $7 per month. In exchange, the site makes it clear to potential customers that they get 5 gigabytes per week of storage for a total of 250 gigabytes per year (in theory, it should actually be more around 260 GB since 5×52=260) .

Notably, the service’s pricing page doesn’t specifically state what those gigabyte limits are (they’re for the total storage used by all videos posted to the account), which might be confusing for a new user. In an expanding panel below the main price list, which requires users to open manually, the site advertises “unlimited bandwidth (subject to fair use)” which, in turn, features an info- bubble that mentions the highest 1% exception.

Vimeo is, of course, perfectly entitled to charge customers whatever price they want, because the “fair use” limit is in the site’s user agreement. This means, however, that users are also free to do their business elsewhere.

Vimeo’s argument that heavy bandwidth users cost more has some merit – bandwidth costs money, even if it’s not as expensive as it once was. Video is also one of the fastest ways to gobble up data transfer allowances, especially as content is increasingly released in HD and UHD.

However, many subscription-based services that host content set their pricing so that customers’ higher additional costs are offset by users who don’t use as many resources. For example, if two users both pay $20 per month for the same amount of storage and one only uses 1GB of transfer but the other uses 10GB, that 9GB difference could be compensated and the business could still make money.

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Vimeo’s claim that only 1% of users exceed the upper bounds of what it considers “fair” could be used to bolster the case that the company can offset the additional costs of high-volume users through the money it collects from the remaining 99% of customers, but without knowing the intricacies of finances and costs, it’s hard to know how those numbers work out.

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