Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is unveiling his new online video service, Vessel.
Vessel is a premium access video service that lets you watch new content from top YouTube creators and media companies at least 72 hours before it hits the wider web.
For $US2.99 per month you can view unlimited videos from a curated set of top YouTube creators in topics such as music, food, travel, beauty, science, vlogging, gaming, pranks and sports; comedy, ideas and pop culture.
Vessel is launching with 120,000 videos pre-populated and YouTube stars such as Brittani Louise Taylor, Connor Franta, “Equals Three,” Nerdist Industries, Jimmy Tatro, Tanya Burr, Roman Atwood, Arden Rose, Jack Vale, and more have already begun debuting videos on the platform. You can also get exclusive early access to music videos by artists or sports videos from partners such as ESPN.
Kilar admits the service isn’t for everyone but believes there’s a certain subset of dedicated fans who count down the minutes till their favourite creator posts a new video and would be happy to pay a few dollars to watch that video the minute it comes out.
If you’re wary of shelling out a monthly subscription fee, Vessel offers a free tier for those just looking to browse. Or, you could always wait 72 hour (or more) for the artist to post the video on YouTube or another free hosting service.
YouTube creators are incentivized to debut and host their videos on Vessel because of the premium ad rates they can charge. On the free web, Vessel estimates that a creator takes home only about $US2.20 per thousand views. On Vessel, creators can receive around $US50.00 per thousand views, the company estimates.
Creators on Vessel are paid by a combo of of ad revenue (of which they keep 70%, which is higher than the 55% cut YouTube offers), and subscription revenue. Vessel puts 60% of all subscription revenue in a pool and gives creators a percentage of that total based on the total number of minutes spent watching their content in a given month. For instance, if an artist’s videos represented 10% of all minutes spent watching “early access” content, they would receive 10% of the pool of subscription revenue.
Kilar is optimistic about creators’ potential to generate huge gains. “If you can get 5% of your fan base, you can double your revenue,” he claims.
More revenue allows creators to invest in script writing services, more advanced editing kits, and other things that can enhance the production quality of their output.
This, in turn, attracts a wider audience, which will theoretically earn them even more money in the long run. Creators could also just choose to pocket the extra money.
“If you’re making a feature film, you have all these revenue options that serve you,” Kilar explains. “There’s releasing the film at the box office, there are pay per view/download options four months later, DVD purchases a little while after that, then ad free subscription products like HBO and Netflix, and finally ad supported TV. Digitally there’s only one window for web video: Free ad supported.”
Some in the industry have whispered about Vessel being a direct YouTube competitor, but Kilar is quick to dismiss those claims.
“We’re very much believers in free ad supported in today’s media ecosystem, but this is just a piece of that. We are not competing with incumbent players,” Kilar told us. “This will run in concert with the free web not against it. That would be like saying ‘HBO is competing with theatres.'”
Like Hulu, Vessel will be supported with advertising or what they’re calling “motion posters.” These ad units are swipeable moving images in your feed and Kilar describes them “a magazine ad on steroids.” The company will also run limited pre roll ads but they won’t last longer than five seconds.
Aside from hosting content, Vessel also does a great job of curating and organising the videos on its platform. When you first sign up you’re asked about your interests and Vessel will suggest relevant creators to follow.
Discovery on YouTube is difficult and the sheer number of artists on the platform can be overwhelming. Vessel takes cream of the crop creators and organizes them in an intuitive way. I’m not much of a YouTube consumer, but while previewing the platform I discovered several programs I’d never even heard of but would love to subscribe to. Creators themselves can also pay for ads to help pop themselves above the water line.
The service is currently in “consumer beta”, so you’ll need an invite to try out Vessel. You can request one here. The company also plans to release Vessel for Android devices, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, and smart TVs.
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