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Vimeo funds its first original series, ‘High Maintenance’

If you’re a streaming video service and you aren’t producing original content like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus are doing, then you’re just not a player in the biz anymore. With the cord-cutter crowd growing stronger each day, and Netflix winning Emmys, it seems the floodgates have opened. Not to be left out, Vimeo is adding its own original series, funding new episodes of the popular Web series “High Maintenance,” which will be available exclusively on Vimeo On Demand.

According to Variety, Vimeo has fully funded six new original episodes of High Maintenance, a comedy that follows the exploits of a nameless pot dealer who delivers his wares to a crowd of neurotic New York clients. The series was created by 30 Rock alumni Katja Blichfield and Ben Sinclair (who also plays the leading role). The first 13 episodes aired on Vimeo last year, and can currently be viewed on the site for free.

“We’re elated to be working directly with Vimeo to make our series with the creative control a television network would never afford us,” Blichfeld and Sinclair said in a prepared statement. “They are a platform that truly celebrates filmmaking.”

The elusion to Vimeo’s support of filmmaking likely refers to the company’s $10 million pledge to help fund indie film projects for Vimeo On Demand, as well as its $500,000 pledge to assist crowd-funded films with marketing.

While Vimeo is still small compared to powerhouses like Netflix and Hulu, it has racked up a respectable 26 million registered users. The service offers a host of offbeat videos from fledgling producers for download, as well as resources enabling indie producers and filmmakers to upload and sell their work. The site’s Vimeo Pro service, which offers Vimeo On Demand, costs $200 per year, and apart from access to exclusive original content, the service offers “an open self-distribution platform that enables anyone to sell their work, their way…”

Funding original programming is a natural progression for online video services now, and the practice has become an undertaking for nearly every major player on the block, from Netflix to Yahoo, to AOL Video.

Vimeo has yet to announce a release date, funding, or other details for the new episodes of “High Maintenance,” but we’ll update this post as soon we find out more, so stay tuned.

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