"There are a lot of people who have built a tremendous audience on YouTube, been very successful but it is a behemoth, there's a ton of content being uploaded by users and personalities so it's hard to stand out and be heard amidst all of the video," Southern said.
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"So when you want to put out something premium I think it's really exciting for YouTube creators to be able to look elsewhere for a different type of experience for their viewers to have," she said.
Activity like this helped fuel Vimeo's 45 percent revenue growth in the second quarter. Now the company has 11,000 on-demand videos, 170 million monthly unique visitors, and nearly half a million paid subscribers to its platform.
Vimeo may have a only a fraction of YouTube's traffic, but the appeal is that it can enable creators to make more money, Trainor said.
"When a creator attracting hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers tries to monetize through advertising you're looking at as little as a dollar per one thousand views, meaning I have to stream something a million times to make a $1,000, so even before YouTube takes their cut," Trainor said. "We have creators who are earning tens of thousands of dollars selling things single-digit-thousands of times."
Watch: Cashing in on YouTube
Vimeo isn't the only one trying to cash in on YouTube fans. Maker Studios has its own video hub, Maker.TV. And Fullscreen and Defy Media, both of which work with YouTube stars, are also trying to help talent find more profitable distribution channels.
But Trainor stresses that he's not trying to compete directly with YouTube, but create a complementary service, for both consumers and content creators, drawing an analogy HBO and broadcast television. "If YouTube is the broadcast experience on Internet steroids we believe that Vimeo can be the same premium cable experience with the same open global approach that the Internet empowers.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin