We have two identical sites (one is a staging site) hosted on different servers. Both are running the same WordPress version 4.8.5.

On one of these sites Vimeo videos are failing to load (previously these were working fine at some point in the past couple weeks). This has been tested using the default unmodified Seventeen theme to rule out any theme-related issues and the problem is the same.

For example, when I insert a Vimeo video link on the faulty site it just returns the URL for the video in the page eg:


Yet on the working site, with exactly the same page content the video URL above is automatically replaced with the Vimeo video player.

Screenshot from faulty site:

enter image description here

Screenshot from working site:

enter image description here

For testing we tried a Youtube video and this is displayed fine on the faulty site.

How can I troubleshoot this and work out what is causing the problem?

  • I am experiencing the same issue - were you able to fix this?
    – Emma Lewis
    Feb 22, 2018 at 13:06
  • We identified the underlying cause of this - I am about to post the solution as an answer to this question.
    – Chris
    Feb 22, 2018 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


After further investigation this appears to be Vimeo blocking the requests.

We have two sites (one where Vimeo videos work and one where they don't). When testing the retrieval of content via PHP we get "HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden" on the faulty site.

Anyone else reading this thread can run the same test with this script:


This will identify if Vimeo is blocked on your hosting server - if it is you should contact your hosting provider and/or Vimeo to get the IP block removed.

Not a WordPress problem per se, but hopefully this diagnostic test helps someone else in the future.


put file_get_contents

$url = file_get_contents(
  • 1
    That should happen automatically though, through WordPress's oEmbed support. And that won't be an URL, will it, it'll be an HTML block wrapped in JSON?
    – Rup
    Jan 12, 2021 at 11:37

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