Online video distributor Vimeo has partnered with Maker Studios to finance and develop long-form video projects for on-demand distribution, and to teach the people behind the rest of Maker’s 55,000 channels how they can sell or rent their own projects through the Vimeo paywall.

Vimeo“We are working to fund original, exclusive content,”said Greg Clayman, Vimeo GM for audience networks. “There will be exclusive, original content from Maker creators that we will roll out on Vimeo on Demand. Maker themselves are interested in (developing) original content.”

The development deal somewhat echoes one announced last week between Vimeo and New Form Digital Studios, which calls for developing four online-based series this year from among 14 projects incubated last year by New Form with other YouTube creators.

Clayman said Vimeo and Maker also will jointly select, develop and finance long-form projects by some Maker talent, then sell the result on an exclusive basis for a period before the creator can then take the project out to other outlets, such as their YouTube channel.

Clayman declined to specify how many projects would be involved in the partnership, how long those exclusivity periods might be or the planned size of the joint investment. He did say the companies plan to “spend substantial amounts of money on a number of projects.”

Vimeo Ben Sinclair Katja BlichfeldAs an example of what’s possible, Clayman pointed to Vimeo’s previous project, High Maintenance, an award-winning two-year-old series from Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld that follows a marijuana delivery guy named The Man on his rounds through Manhattan.

Importantly, however, the Vimeo-Maker deal also includes help for the tens of thousands of creators whose projects won’t get financed through the partnership. They will get discounted access to Vimeo Pro accounts plus training materials for selling their own projects through Vimeo On Demand.

“What we’re basically doing with Maker as well is we’re putting our transactional platform in front of all their creators,” Clayman said. “We’ll be rolling it out with all their creative community and doing educational outreach.”

That part of the deal could be an important component going forward, giving Vimeo privileged access to up-and-coming creators seeking new ways to make money beyond YouTube, which provides a revenue share from ad sales.

Since launching its Vimeo on Demand paywall platform 18 months ago, the company has done a number of VOD projects with YouTube creators and their shows, including Rocket Jump Studios (Video Game High School), Angry Video Game Nerd and Taryn Southern, Clayman said.

And Vimeo is far from the only company trying to make money from original video online. Pioneering production company Rooster Teeth (Red vs. Blue) has done it since 2002, predating even YouTube, but the recent explosion of business opportunities online has attracted interest from heavyweights such as Amazon and Facebook, along with well-funded newcomers such as Vessel.

Maker is the largest YouTube multi-channel network but has been diversifying its reach into related areas. Disney acquired Maker nearly a year ago in a deal worth up to $950 million.