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Vimeo says it’s not going to launch a video subscription service, after all

Cross one off the list.

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IAC CEO Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg
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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Everyone wants to sell internet video subscriptions. Except Vimeo: IAC’s video unit, which had announced three years ago that it wanted to launch a subscription video product but never got one off the ground, says it’s not going to launch one, after all.

From a Vimeo PR rep: “Vimeo has confirmed that it has decided not to proceed in offering a subscription-based original program service scheduled to begin in ’18.”

Vimeo has been floating the idea of selling a subscription service since 2014 — at the same time that HBO and CBS had announced and launched their subscription services, and YouTube was hinting at plans for what eventually became its YouTube Red service.

Since then many other digital video subscriptions have hit the market, including several versions of “skinny bundles,” which offer traditional TV channels delivered over the internet.

Meanwhile Vimeo, which has been a perpetually promising unit for IAC, never made the aggressive moves it would need to acquire content that people would want to pay for on a recurring basis.

That didn’t stop it from talking about doing it. Joey Levin, who is both IAC’s CEO and Vimeo’s interim boss (that unit’s last head, Kerry Trainor, left a year ago) promised “to spend real money on programming for the first time ever, and put real marketing money behind it,” in January.

Update: To underscore how recent this shift is for Vimeo: In May, Levin was telling investors how excited he was to have hired Alana Mayo, a former Paramount exec who came aboard in March. IAC wasn’t in a rush, but wanted to deliver “the best content,” so it would do so in 2018, he said.

Now IAC says Mayo is leaving.

Here’s a statement from Levin: “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. 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.”

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