Two months after it launched an invite-only beta, Vessel is going public. The online video platform founded by former Hulu execs Jason Kilar and Rich Tom has opened its doors to the public, and in order to woo potential subscribers, Vessel has offered a year-long free subscription for anyone who signs up in the first 72 hours after the site’s launch.
Vessel, for the uninitiated, is a platform built around the concept of windowed content. Participating creators can make their videos available on Vessel 72 hours before they appear anywhere else. In order to watch this exclusive content, viewers must purchase a $2.99-a-month subscription, which provides access to Vessel’s entire library. This subscription revenue, combined with the site’s unique advertising model, theoretically allows creators to take in revenues that far exceed what they earn on other sites.
This model has convinced a large number of well-known content creators to try Vessel out. When the site first launched in beta, it touted the participation of notable YouTube stars like Shane Dawson, Connor Franta, and Ingrid Nilsen. Since then, other creators–such as GloZell Green, Meredith Foster, SeaNanners, and Syndicate–have joined the party by agreeing to debut their videos on Vessel. Here, courtesy of Vessel, is a full list of creators working with the platform:
Discovery Communications will make a variety of short-form content from its web-native portfolio, Discovery Digital Networks, and from select TV programming available through Vessel.
Other content, including episodes of “The Philip DeFranco Show” (which will be available on Vessel at the same it’s posted to YouTube and Discovery’s other platforms) and segments from Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” and Science Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science”, will be available through Vessel’s free, ad-supported offering.
A number of individual video creators have signed on to debut their new videos on Vessel, including prominent vloggers GloZell Green (one of three video creators to interview President Obama following this year’s State of the Union address), Tré Melvin, and Mazzi Maz; creators with a large following in the gaming world, like SeaNanners, Syndicate, Mr Sark, and WroetoShaw; creators in the fashion & beauty world, like Meredith Foster a.k.a. Stilababe, Meghan Rienks a.k.a. MeghanRosette, and Estée Lalonde a.k.a. Essiebutton; science-focused creators like Veritasium, LinusTechTips, and MinutePhysics; comedic creators like Callux, FailArmy, Reckless Tortuga and Michael Balalis a.k.a. Mikey Bolts; and other creators with a large following, like Element Animation, JustKiddingFilms, Colin Furze and /DRIVE.
These creators join a growing list of creators and content partners who are making their videos available first on Vessel. This list already includes MCNs like Machinima, Tastemade and DanceOn; popular video creators like Rhett & Link, Shane Dawson, Marcus Butler, Connor Franta, Caspar Lee, Ingrid Nilsen, Tanya Burr, Anna Akana, Brittani Louise Taylor, Arden Rose, Explosm Entertainment, Nerdist Industries, Jimmy Tatro, Unbox Therapy, Jack Vale, Element Animation, and Wassabi Productions, among others; traditional media companies, like A+E Networks; musicians and music companies, including Boyce Avenue, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group; and series and channels –like Epic Meal Time, Ray William Johnson’s “Equals Three”, and Above Average Productions’ “Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride”– developed explicitly for the web.
Combined, these creators and content partners reach an audience in excess of 200 million passionate fans, and their videos have been viewed tens of billions of times in the past year alone.
We have also added a number of other partners who will make their videos available through Vessel’s free, ad-supported offering. These partners include:
NBCUniversal, which will make clips from late-night programs “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” available on Vessel the day after they air.
The NBA, which will make short-form Game Recaps of most games available on Vessel.
Interactive news & talk show “What’s Trending”; Universal Sports, which will offer highlights from Olympic endurance sports events and competitions; and FOX Sports.
These partners join a wide variety of companies already offering their videos through Vessel’s free, ad-supported offering, which offers videos from humor sites like Funny or Die and CollegeHumor; music videos from companies like VEVO, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group; sports videos from companies like Major League Soccer and UFC; news and consumer videos from companies like TIME Inc (Sports Illustrated and FORTUNE), The New York Times, and BuzzFeed; and inspirational videos from organizations like TED, among others.
Clearly, there is no shortage of great content on Vessel. The only question left is whether the fans will show up, and that’s where the promotional offer comes in. Anyone who joins Vessel’s premium service in the next three days will be able to try it for free for a year; after that, new users will receive the first month of their subscriptions for free. A Vessel representative termed this offer an “investment” that assist the platform as it builds an audience.
One factor working in Vessel’s favor is the fact that the viewers who are most likely to pony up for the premium service are “super fans” who are extremely active on social media. As Kilar sees it, those fans will be instrumental as Vessel looks to build up its community. He forecasts “a lot of mentions of Vessel in [social media] environments, especially since the biggest fans are getting access to the content early, and those people are most excited to talk about it.”
At the same time, creators will also be responsible for building a community on Vessel, and in the early stages, Kilar likes what he sees. He noted the collaboration between users like Marcus Butler and Caspar Lee, and he told Tubefilter he hopes to see an “Oprah effect,” with high-profile creators working to “shepherd other creators through collaboration.” “I’d be surprised if you didn’t see Ingrid Nilsen not only build her own business but shepherd other talent that is consistent with her world view,” he said. “I strongly believe you’re going to see that happen on Vessel.”
Vessel will not be an overnight success, but Kilar does not believe creators will be scared off by any initial bumps in the road. He quoted his former boss, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who said “it takes a long time to make things that ultimately matter to the world.” “One of the first things we help [creators] to understand is that this is a journey and it doesn’t happen overnight,” added Kilar. “You have to be very candid about the journey and how long you think it will take.”
You can sign up for Vessel through the platform’s website or through its mobile app. For more information about the public launch, check out the Vessel blog.