Verizon’s burgeoning online video business could soon add another subsidiary. According to a report by Recode, which cited multiple sources, the media giant is in talks to acquire Vessel, the online video platform launched in March 2015 by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar.
Vessel launched with a clear business plan in mind: By offering lucrative deals to online video stars and other popular content producers, it hoped to convince those creators to post their videos exclusively on Vessel for 72 hours before sharing them anywhere else. Then, by paying a small monthly subscription fee, super-fans would gain early access to content from their favorite channels.
While Vessel did succeed in luring some top creators to its service, it has struggled to attract a big audience, in part due to YouTube’s active defense of its creative community. The world’s top video site handed out some bonuses of its own to counter Vessel’s offers, and many creators were reluctant to stray from the platform where they are most recognized. As it struggled to gain a foothold in the industry, Vessel announced in March 2016 that it would remove ads for paying subscribers in an attempt to further sweeten its deal.
Nonetheless, the reported acquisition talks tell us that Vessel’s days as an independent company may be numbered. Recode’s sources note that Kilar’s team is working on a pivot that will turn Vessel into a “Snapchat-like” product. In making that change, Vessel could take advantage of its slick and unobtrusive ad technology, which has served as one of its most well-liked features.
No matter how it uses Vessel’s assets, Verizon could be in line to add another subsidiary to its rapidly expanding online video empire. In 2015, it acquired AOL; later that year, it launched mobile video platform Go90, which has since been stocked with an impressive library of original content. In 2016, its acquisition binge continued when it picked up beleaguered media company Yahoo.
Both Vessel and Verizon declined to comment on Recode’s report.