Vimeo should create a TV channel

I bought the Roku XD|S a month ago (my review of it), and the only service I mostly watch on it, is Vimeo. I watch it even more than Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and the newly released on Roku, Hulu Plus. And unlike these services, Vimeo is free, and the quality of the clips there is astounding! It’s food for your brain, and for your eyes. Vimeo’s (good) clips are pure art.

I would wholeheartedly and honestly advise every filmmaker, artist, or video enthusiast to buy the cheap version of Roku (Roku HD, $60), just for Vimeo. Do this even if you’re in Europe, and most of the other Roku services are not available there. Just get it for Vimeo alone: the price is right, and most modern PAL TVs can playback NTSC content anyway! The other versions of Roku that do 1080p don’t matter, since the vast majority of the Vimeo videos are in 720p, or lower. As a bonus, you will also get a YouTube channel, just in case you want to watch on TV whatever’s not on Vimeo (meaning, mostly crap).

Quality is great on my 50″ Pioneer plasma TV. Especially when viewing a video originated from a “clean” source footage (e.g. a timelapse that its source were still pictures), or the video was encoded by Vimeo in 1080p (~4 mbps VBR h.264), the quality is way better than Comcast’s, which averages 1080i at 12 mbps mpeg2 CBR!

Sure you can watch Vimeo on TV via your computer’s TV-out (if your PC has HDMI-out in the first place), but it’s not the same experience. You would constantly need to reach your computer to select another video, and Flash’s h.264 playback occasionally stutters even on the fastest PCs, even with hardware acceleration. Roku’s h.264 implementation is smooth as butter and its usability feels like real TV, not some hack that has to share resources with other PC services.


The Vimeo service on the Roku

Going a bit further than that, I would love to see a Vimeo TV channel. Either a traditional TV channel to be given-away via cable/satellite, or a more modern one, via an application for Roku/GoogleTV/etc that can stream “live” video (live meaning, not on-demand). Keep the current Vimeo TV versions that lets you login, “like”, watch your channels/groups etc, but also provide a “live” channel playing the best-of-the-best videos 24/7. The CouchMode can co-exist, but since it runs through a browser, navigation is a bitch and it offers a crappy experience (on GoogleTV, pressing “menu” brings up Chrome’s menu for example, not Vimeo’s).

The reason why I’d like a Vimeo “live” (non-ondemand) channel on top of Roku’s Vimeo channel and CouchMode is because these services only let me watch my own “likes”, and the Staff-Picks/HD Channels only, while I’m more interested in more good content than just that. I want someone else (Vimeo) to go through the best of the best of all time, and show them to me instead of the comparatively small selection that currently exists in the above mentioned lists/channels. Sure I can search for videos myself, but I can’t know if what I’m getting is good or not. Vimeo can do the picking for me. I just want to turn ON the TV, and watch goodness, stuff I possibly never watched before, without me having to search for it. Let me explain. This is how I envision the Vimeo TV channel:

Take any video with over 299 views, longer than 29 secs, and divide its number of “completed” views to its number of Vimeo “likes”. All videos uploaded after 2009 that produce less than “200” as resulted score, can be green-lit to be shown on the live Vimeo TV stream. For pre-2009 videos to get shown, the score must be less than “100”, because people kept “liking” easier in the past. Some of my early videos in 2007 got more “likes” than they deserved, for example. Either that, or people are more difficult to “like” these days — whatever the case, I have observed differences in “like” habits, probably because after the dSLR revolution more good stuff are uploaded today than back then.


Here’s a video that only has 460 views so far, but it has 58 “likes”, creating a score of “8.1” (which is super-high score). There are many hidden gems on Vimeo like this one!

– One 30 second TV commercials after the end of each video shown. Show two commercials if the video that follows is more than 10 minutes long. Don’t show ads on top of videos. Don’t cut off full movies for commercials, unless you can work something out with the copyright owner. TV commercials pay way more than web ads, so that should be Vimeo’s incentive to create a TV channel.

– Show information of the video following in a black screen for about 8-10 seconds, with a title, thumbnail, credits, date uploaded, description, CC license if applicable, HD or not, new or not, etc. It would be nice to also show the median score too, so we known if what’s coming is a masterpiece, or just plain good… 😉

– Using Vimeo’s “Categories“, Vimeo can categorize each video into these categories, so it can have hourly “programs”. For example, you get the documentaries in 6 PM, the short films at 8 PM (primetime), music videos after 11 PM, etc etc. For web TV series, they can even be shown from 9-10 PM, every weekday, for about 5 minutes each (since they don’t usually last more than that). Every weekend there can also be a 3-hour marathon of the best-scored clips of the week. Of course, most uploaders never add their videos on these “Categories” (were you even aware of that Vimeo feature? I wasn’t until recently), so some interns need to get employed and go through sorting these green-lit well-scored videos. From that point on, creating actual “thematic programming,” is a go.

– Vimeo (like YouTube) already has a perpetual license to broadcast videos people upload to it, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t. If you don’t like this arrangement, remove your video from Vimeo. Easy as pie.

– Later, if this whole experiment works, Vimeo can become a studio itself, and produce hour-long scripted shows. Stay away from reality crap though — let that remain YouTube’s sin. Vimeo is about art. Shooting in NY is very expensive though, so this might be something that has to happen elsewhere.

– Finally, this step is important: have two versions of live Vimeo. One that upscales everything to 720p, and one that upscales everything to 1080p. Meaning, don’t change resolution depending on the video shown, just upscale it. The 720p version ensures compatibility with more devices (e.g. the cheap version of Roku, AppleTV via Boxee), and the 1080p version allows TVs that have a native dot-by-dot mode to watch the videos in 1:1 size, without any overscan. See, when a video with a non-1080p resolution changes the TV’s 1080p native resolution, the TV is getting thrown out of its native dot-by-dot mode (better quality), so we need to reach for our remote control and re-set it for every video. This is what happens now on both my Roku and my GoogleTV. And is very annoying.

– For broadcasting/upscaling, every clip that was green-lit for Vimeo TV will need to get re-encoded. Re-encoding the 2 mbps Vimeo video would have a huge impact on quality, so these clips must be re-encoded from source instead, with more bitrate.

19 Comments »

Glenn Thomas wrote on November 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 AM PST:

Sounds interesting. Might have to look into that if we ever upgrade our tv. We’re still using an old widescreen 76cm ‘picture tube’ idiot box. Mostly watch everything on my studio computer with the 24″ Dell monitor.

There’s a lot on Vimeo and so many high quality movies that are hidden. I’ve noticed Staff Picks that were uploaded 2 or more years ago and previously only had a few plays with just one or two likes. I guess posting the videos to multiple groups and channels can help along with good tags.


Michael C. wrote on November 22nd, 2010 at 11:02 AM PST:

“It’s food for your brain, for your eyes. Vimeo’s (good) clips are pure art.” — Food for your brain or pure art? I have quickly gotten tired of most Vimeo artsy videos with no meaning whatsoever. The one you linked to, with three split screens, is old-school, boring and meaningless. As I suspected, you are getting drowned into escapist quicksand. A TV channel? For coach potatoes? With endless sequence of pretty pictures and airy music? No, thanks. I got rid of my cable TV subscription for the freedom of being able to watch exactly what I want, not to be spoonfed. “TV mode” is a step backward, not forward.


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Eugenia wrote on November 22nd, 2010 at 11:47 AM PST:

>Food for your brain or pure art?

Both. There is something for everyone. Last night I watched a 3-part documentary for extreme skiing for example, on Vimeo. Before that I watched a documentary on the linen industry, and one on a glass worker, one of the few around this dying art. They were very educational.

>I have quickly gotten tired of most Vimeo artsy videos with no meaning whatsoever.

That might be you, but it’s not everyone. And the meaning of “meaning”, is different for art. Not everything has to be laid out as in a script that makes full sense. If that was the case, modern art wouldn’t exist at all.

>you are getting drowned into escapist quicksand

You were suspecting me? Well, let me tell you that I always was an escapist, and it’s why I like film and music. It’s why I listen to dream-pop and shoegaze, it’s why I prefer stories or images that take me away. It’s not a negative thing, it’s how I always wanted my dinner.

>A TV channel? For coach potatoes?

Yes. If we can introduce art or quality programs to more people, then we should.

>not to be spoonfed

There are times where spoon-feeding is simply more enjoyable than having to search yourself of what you want to watch. Searching can be annoying, and you don’t know for what to search anyway, and you won’t know if what you’re gonna get is good or not. Vimeo TV could take care of this.

There is nothing better to come back from work, turn on the TV while you’re cooking to keep you company, and have some beautiful programming on TV, rather than reality series trash, or having to select videos all by yourself every 5 minutes. It’s simply another niche.

>“TV mode” is a step backward, not forward.

TV pre-programming will never go away. Even with on-demand.


NiX wrote on November 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 PM PST:

Try Vimeo (or YouTube) on XBMC, you’ll get the same experience for free.


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Eugenia wrote on November 22nd, 2010 at 3:11 PM PST:

XMBC’s Vimeo support is a joke, sorry. It doesn’t support nearly as much, or as well, the stuff Vimeo’s official Roku plugin does. Plus, it requires a PC connected, and voodoo magic to install XMBC properly. It might be a solution for geeks and for people who don’t need much out of Vimeo, but it doesn’t make for a pleasurable experience.


memsom wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 3:43 AM PST:

Unless it can be fully automated, it will require someone to sit and schedule the videos. I don’t think you are quite giving enough thought in to how much thought needs to go in to this exercise. I actually worked on a the scheduling software a major UK network uses (well, used circa 2002)… it was almost completely automated at point of broadcast, and yet they still had a team of people planning the schedules. It’s a nice idea, but you need to find a way to fund the effort it would take to create such a product to make it viable. Adding in a commercial element (as in buying in advertisements) is another humongous job…


Glenn wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 6:52 AM PST:

Hey Eugenia, sorry to hijack this thread but, knowing your interest in point and shoot cameras…I was wondering if you saw that Kodak recently released the Kodak Mini HD point and share camcorder. It’s sensor is, unfortunately but expectedly, a 1/4″ VGA CMOS sensor but it shoots 24p in 720p…mjpeg. Oh yeah…it’s waterproof too…up to 10′. It retails for $129 over at the Kodak store but I just ordered one for 79 bucks. It’s cool to see that these companies are opening pathways for young and/or poor film makers to experiment with better yet cheaper equipment.


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Eugenia wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 11:48 AM PST:

>it will require someone to sit and schedule the videos.

Yes, this should not be a big deal. I mentioned interns earlier to sort, but a program manager is not a bad idea. As for TV commercials, well, it has to happen one way or another.

Glenn, you’re right, I don’t like off topic comments. I hate off topic comments more than I like cameras.


Michael C. wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 1:05 PM PST:

“As for TV commercials, well, it has to happen one way or another.” – nope, it does not have to happen. In many European countries people are paying TV tax and enjoy commercial-free TV. One of the reasons I abandoned my cable TV is because I hate commercials. Luckily, there are ways of watching videos without them. This is another reason why I won’t go back to “TV coach mode” viewing model.

“For piracy to end, 99% of all content ever created must be available.” – For many reasons I prefer having my own copy of shows that I like. I will not agree with streaming-only, even if it is “on demand”. Today I found out that a video I watched two months ago on YouTube is not available anymore. Such unreasonable behavior of content producers encourages me to build my own video library and pushes me further from streaming TV.


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Eugenia wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 2:48 PM PST:

>I hate commercials

I don’t really. Especially if there’s just 1 commercial between short clips, I think it’s more than fair, and when people complain about commercials on free TV channels, they should get a reality check. Content or bandwidth just ain’t free.

>a video I watched two months ago on YouTube is not available anymore

This pisses me off too, but this doesn’t mean that you have the terabytes needed to store everything ever created. It makes more sense to stream 99.99% of that content, even if occasionally you lose that 00.001%.


Glenn wrote on November 23rd, 2010 at 4:06 PM PST:

It wasn’t completely off topic because young/poor film makers could create content with aforementioned camera for Vimeo channel…


Michael C. wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 10:26 AM PST:

“When people complain about commercials on free TV channels, they should get a reality check. Content or bandwidth just ain’t free.” — This is why I mentioned a “TV tax” and pay-per-view model. Going to the movies or buying a DVD is essentially pay-per-view, but somehow these greedy bastards think that it is not enough to charge me $10 for a ticket, they also allow themselves to stick half a dozen of ads and previews before the movie starts. I PAY FOR THE MOVIE, NOT FOR THE ADS.

As for terabytes, I store only what I watched and liked, I don’t store stuff I haven’t watched 🙂 I don’t watch much, so it is easy for me.


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Eugenia wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 11:26 AM PST:

>pay-per-view model.

This would not work for Vimeo though. For Vimeo it has to be ads.


Michael C. wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 11:43 AM PST:

“This would not work for Vimeo though. For Vimeo it has to be ads.” – Frankly, I am not worried about Vimeo, because it will die in a year or so. If it does not die then it will become an obscure and dark place like exposureroom. Judging by YouTube progress in the last year I can see it becoming THE video sharing and viewing resource (currently it is the biggest, but not the only one). It already has pay-per-view, it has ad-driven model, it has downloads (official ones) for payment or for free, depending on a partner’s desire. YouTube will have something for everyone. It does not have “no-scale” viewing mode, which is a bummer, but everything else it has is as good as on Vimeo or better. To me, if a set-top device supports YouTube it supports online videos.

Returning to ads. Presently, some videos are streamed with or without ads, but you can download them for a fee and there will be no ads. So, if you trust the description and the author, then you pay, download and watch it without ads, or you watch it with ads online and then download for personal storage (again, for a small fee). YouTube keeps trying different models, and cannot fault it for that, while Vimeo is stalling.


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Eugenia wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 12:01 PM PST:

>Vimeo, because it will die in a year or so.

Come on. Vimeo actually does now better than it did 2 years ago, when they were indeed on the brink of failure. Vimeo now has a reputation for artistic and serious videos, rather than the crap found on youtube. In fact, a lot of the videos found on Vimeo exist on Youtube, but no one appreciates them there. The system of Youtube simply does not promote good videos. It’s impossible to find them there. On Vimeo, it’s much easier. Vimeo has found a niche, and it can hold on to that to make money.


Michael C. wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 1:21 PM PST:

YouTube is getting better. You can search for shows, though I do agree that finding stuff is tough, because YouTube shows you “most popular” for a category, but does not show the full list, and you are left wondering what else do you miss. But you can search from comments to videos that you like, or from subscribers or from associated playlists, etc. It is hard, but there is a lot of good stuff out there, whereas Vimeo is mostly about artsy-fartsy things that are fine to watch once, but quickly let one bored. Vimeo simply cannot afford the traffic for daily or hourly news, whereas YouTube hosts multitude of news channels. Many of these channels can be watched 24/7 through a third-party application in low quality for free or in high quality for a fee, but I would not be surprised if YouTube offers the “leanback” TV streaming model for these channels right from its site.

You are saying that this is not what Vimeo is doing, fine. But if you are talking about streaming TV model you are talking about thousands of viewers, not a dozen of those who can appreciate “Rain” shot on the HV20. What Vimeo can offer to these thousands of coach potatoes? Not much.

Also, you think that Vimeo will offer the best of the best to you, but you despise YouTube charts? You think that someone at Vimeo with good taste will select the best videos just for you, whereas YouTube pushes you crap? I doubt that you will be enjoying good TV if the streaming model is implemented at Vimeo. I don’t use YouTube’s ranking and “what is hot today”, I search for what I am interested in. This is why dumb TV streaming model does not work for me. This is why I feel so relieved because I can search for stuff myself instead of pushing a button on a TV at 8 p.m.


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Eugenia wrote on November 24th, 2010 at 1:52 PM PST:

Michael, you are not listening, and you are not reading either. How the videos are to be selected is already explained in my article, and Vimeo already has this capacity, and all the videos in that resulted range ARE actually good.

And no, you can’t do the same with Youtube (as it is right now). Because with youtube you can only SEARCH for specific keywords. This is not what I want to do. I want to get a list with ALL videos, of all time, that have a good views/likes ratio. Vimeo allows that, youtube doesn’t. To try this yourself, login to Vimeo, go to the Discover tab on the front page after you login, select “popular videos”, and then “most liked”.

Plus, Vimeo promotes good content via its two popular channels, “HD Channel” and “Staff Picks”. These two channels have made people single out Vimeo as a quality video service, rather than the kitchen sink, that youtube is. It has build a certain audience and attracts certain kinds of filmmakers.

As for bandwidth, Vimeo can handle 24/7 streaming, especially when TV ads are coming into play. You have a very skewed view of Vimeo, I’m afraid.

>whereas Vimeo is mostly about artsy-fartsy things that are fine to watch once, but quickly let one bored.

This is utter bullshit. Vimeo is not just about artsy videos. Last night alone I watched 3 short films, and 2 documentaries. Or are you telling me that Youtube’s popular videos can be watched more than once? I can hardly go through a single run with Fred’s latest video on youtube. Besides, Vimeo has so many good videos, that they don’t need to be broadcasted twice *anyway*.

This is going nowhere. There’s no point evangelizing youtube to me btw. I can’t stand it from any point of view. Not even its terrible web design.


Michael C. wrote on November 27th, 2010 at 11:45 AM PST:

“Vimeo is not just about artsy videos. Last night alone I watched 3 short films, and 2 documentaries.” — Could you share the links to those two documentaries? Really, I would watch them too. In the meantime, I am talking about stuff like this:

Nicely done, and I actually liked it, but just read the comments: “Senseless. 3 minutes of pursuit and no fuckin story.” … “It just seemed like a lot of the parkour was completely pointless and had it been real life no one would have done it.” … “This video being put on the Staff’s Picks is another example of the Vimeo having too much power over exposure, and putting style over substance.”


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Eugenia wrote on November 27th, 2010 at 2:41 PM PST:

You can find these videos on the official HD Channel. As for the linked video, it has 618 likes over 31k views. Which means people liked it with or without vimeo’s help. Likes are difficult to get by these days so if it has that many, means it’s good. It has a median of 50 score, which is good. All vimeo can do is add views to this video.


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