For years, Vimeo has been known as the underground creative alternative when it comes to video sites.  It has been a home for the artistic crowd, fostering a community where filmmakers, animators and video artists of all kinds could go for inspiration, praise and constructive criticism.  It has not been a home for business and commercial use.  Until this week.  Yesterday Vimeo launched a new service designed for small businesses.  Vimeo Pro is slated to compete with services like Sprout, Viddler and Google Apps Business Video to bring small businesses an “insanely affordable” alternative to video hosting.

So what’s included with Vimeo Pro?  For $199 a year, Pro users get 50GB of storage and 250k plays (though additional space and plays can be added for a fee).  Pro users can post videos in HD (up to 1080p), take advantage of advanced analytics, enjoy unlimited bandwidth with no caps or time limits, and more.  They’ve also got a super-customizable and brandable video player.  If you don’t like the Vimeo player, Vimeo Pro offers third-party video player support (though their player looks pretty great if you ask me!).

One of the coolest features of Vimeo Pro is that members can easily create customizable websites to showcase their videos.  To create your site, you don’t have to type a line of code—Vimeo is offering a number of customizable templates.

Check out the video below and find out more about what Vimeo Pro includes on the Vimeo website.

The launch of Vimeo Pro may be confusing for some users that are already paying for Vimeo Plus, the premium version of Vimeo that allows for more storage space, priority uploading and other features.  Andrew Pile points out on the Vimeo blog that Pro is not an upgrade over Plus.  “We built Pro specifically for business and Plus specifically for people.  We’re going to continue to improve the Basic and Plus account just as we always have.”

In fact, unlike Vimeo Plus, Vimeo Pro is not even a part of Vimeo.com.  Pile writes, “Vimeo Pro lives as a separate service—invisible to the Vimeo.com world.”  That being said, Vimeo Pro users can apply for a ‘Community Pass’ so that they can interact with members on Vimeo.com.  It’s important to note that Vimeo Pro users will only be able to use the Community Pass if they play by the rules.  Commercial video is still not allowed on Vimeo.com.

What’s your take on Vimeo’s foray into the world of business video?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.