Jason Kilar was CEO of Hulu until early in 2013 when he left due, it was rumored, to his difficult relationship with Hulu's backers. Hulu CTO Rich Tom left at about the same time.
Now the pair are back with Vessel a short-form video streaming site that wants to take on YouTube. Vessel wants to help YouTube celebrities (and other short form, online content creators) make more money.
The basic idea is that a YouTube celeb signs up and pledges to put content on Vessel exclusively for three days before it goes up on YouTube (and other sites). Kilar is said to be reaching out to major YouTube personalities to lure them to Vessel.
So why would someone agree to this? Re/code shared the business model. Vessel thinks you and I, YouTube consumers, will pay $3/month for a subscription to see this content first. That subscription revenue goes into a pool, and 60% of that pool will be paid out to the content creators who've agree to the 3-day exclusivity deal. How much of the pool you get depends on how much traffic you draw.
There will also be ads on Vessel (and even subscribers will see them) and content creators get 70% of the ad revenue pulled in via their videos. That's a lot more generous than YouTube's 55%.
Vessel says that during the early access period creators can expect to earn $50 per thousand views, and suggests that's 20 times what they'd make on other platforms.
A post at the LA Times suggests that Vessel won't just house content from YouTube stars, saying the company also has deals with Tastemade, DanceOn and A&E Networks, and will be the exclusive distributor for new series “Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride.”
Content creators can apply to become part of Vessel now. We content consumers won't get to see what it's all about until early 2015.
$3/month isn't much money but I'm still curious to see if people will pay to watch this content three days early. It's the kind of figure where it's more about the hassle of signing up than it is about the money, particularly with young people who might not have a credit card or PayPal account. I can't recall ever waiting for new content to show up on YouTube; the stuff I watch may be new or it could be a year old. I rarely pay attention to the date. On the other hand I don't think Vessel is going after my generation.
If you don't want to pay, you can still watch all of Vessel's content, you just have to wait until three days after it posts, though presumably it'll be up on YouTube at that point, too.
I think the company is going to have to really battle to get folks to change their habit of going to YouTube. In particular they're going to need to get apps out for every platform really quickly or make an extremely good HTML5 site for mobile devices. I hope they find success just for the sake of the content creators; it'd be nice if more of them could make a living at it.