Vimeo Hopes to Smoke Out Next Breakout Hit

Now that digital-content provider Vimeo has moved its first original series to HBO, the company is looking for its next big original online hit series.

High Maintenance, a comedy about a marijuana delivery messenger just acquired by HBO, was Vimeo’s first stab at the original series arena. The series — created by Ben Sinclair and KatjaBlichfield— initially launched on Vimeo for free before moving to the online video provider’s subscription on-demand platform for its second season.

HBO will develop six new episodes of High Maintenance and will run its 19 prior episodes on the HBO Go and HBO Now platforms.

High Maintenance has proven to be one of today’s most highly-acclaimed online comedies,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said in a statement. “We are thrilled to bring this sophisticated and clever series to our HBO audience.”

High Maintenance follows the adventures of “The Guy,” a nameless marijuana dealer played by Sinclair, as he delivers his product to clients in New York City. Each episode focuses on a different set of characters and how they interact with the unnamed dealer.

“We didn’t create the show thinking that it will be sold to HBO, but we’re thrilled with how it turned out,” Vimeo general manager Greg Clayman told Multichannel News. “We’ve talked about the emergence of various platforms, so it’s really interesting to see a high-quality show like that make its way across the various platforms — first it was free, then it was on demand and now it’s on HBO.”

Clayman said Vimeo doesn’t have another original series lined up as of yet but is talking to several producers about various projects.

For Vimeo, which has more than 170 million unique users uploading and viewing original video content, its service provides an open platform for all types of videos. The service’s Vimeo On Demand content allows its premium VimeoPRO users to charge a fee for viewing of their original movies, shows and documentaries.

Clayman said the service’s hybrid free offering and transactional on-demand package is not unlike that of the cable bundle which features both a large package of channels and premium content for consumers to choose to watch on various platforms.

He pointed to Dish’s Sling TV digital subscription package as an iteration of the mix of traditional linear content and digital presence that will reach a large swath of customers on whatever platform they choose to watch.

“It’s interesting to watch all the different flavors of online and cable content that we currently have in the marketplace,” Clayman said. “Often people talk about cable versus online but then you have Dish, which is a [multichannel video programming distributor] but also offers an online product. Instead of one over the other, we’re seeing a merger of the two as quality content finds its way to audiences.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.