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Vimeo recruits stars of 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Orange is the New Black' for new shows

The streaming site is following Netflix and Amazon in creating new, original productions.

Natasha Lyonne (left) and Aidy Bryant will appear together in a new production backed by Vimeo. Debby Wong/Corbis

Vimeo has recruited stars of "Saturday Night Live," "Parks and Recreation" and "Orange is the New Black" as it joins Netflix and other video services creating original films and TV shows.

From "House of Cards" on Netflix to "Transparent" on Amazon, online video and streaming services are pouring money into original productions that can only be seen in one place to tempt you to sign up. So serious are they about original content, they're luring big names from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to Woody Allen and, er, Adam Sandler. They're even moving into movie production as well as episodic TV-style shows.

Vimeo isn't on that scale yet, but its new raft of original productions will feature some familiar faces. Aidy Bryant, whom you may recognize from "Saturday Night Live," writes and stars in Vimeo's first original short film, "Darby Forever." Bryant plays shop girl Darby encountering colorful customers including Retta, best known as Donna from "Parks and Recreation," and Natasha Lyonne, also known as Nicky in Netflix's original production "Orange is the New Black."

Stand-up comedy specials have proved popular for Netflix, and Vimeo's first such one-off is "Bianca Del Rio's Rolodex of Hate Comedy Special: Live from Austin." Coming in December, the show features the acerbic Del Rio, who won last year's series of "RuPaul's Drag Race."

The final Vimeo-funded show in the lineup is a new series of Web show "The Outs." The first series was streamed on Vimeo in 2012, and with Vimeo money behind them, creators Adam Goldman and Sasha Winters will pick up with the characters three years older.

The first production to be backed by Vimeo was last year's "High Maintenance," another Web series originally funded and posted to Vimeo by its creators that tempted the site to pay for more episodes. "High Maintenance" and "The Outs" demonstrate one of Vimeo's advantages over other streaming services: where Netflix and Amazon have to take a chance on new projects, Vimeo has a base of videos posted to the site by users from which it can cherry-pick the proven successful projects for further backing.

"Darby Forever" and "The Outs" will appear on Vimeo on Demand at the end of next year.

Vimeo was founded on 2004. A home for people to share their videos, it has a more upmarket reputation than YouTube, with premium accounts available that offer more options for creators. As well as the publicly available videos, there's Vimeo On Demand, where you can rent and buy films. A recent addition is " Con Man," the crowdfunded Web series from the former stars of popular sci-fi show "Firefly."