Vessel, the much-awaited online video startup founded by ex Hulu executives Jason Kilar and Richard Tom, finally opened its service to the public today. It may take time to see if users are willing to pay to watch Web videos that are usually free, but the company says brands like Chevy, Corona Extra, Land Rover and Jaguar, as well as Unilever's Axe, Dove, Suave and St. Ives, have signed up as advertisers.
Kilar wrote in a blog post that Vessel is now welcoming sign-ups for an invite-only beta version of its service. To access content, users can choose to pay $2.99 per month or watch ad-supported videos. Vessel ads come in two forms: Five-second pre-rolls or interstitial units, which appear as branded "motion posters." The latter pops up as users scroll through the site.
The platform offers creators a more favorable revenue share than YouTube, which splits ad revenue 45/55 in favor of the Google-owned video platform. Creators get 70 percent of all ad revenue made from their content on Vessel. Plus, the site earmarks 60 percent of its subscription revenue to divvy up among creators—if a creator's videos make up 10 percent of platform views, he or she would get 10 percent of that allotment. A referral program also pays creators who attract new subscribers. (The company estimates that creators will make $50 per 1,000 views.)
To qualify for the subscription-based revenue, creators agree to post new content on Vessel for at least 72 hours before offering it elsewhere for free. After the early access period, the content then moves to Vessel's free, ad-supported service and can be posted on other non-subscription-based platforms.
The startup began inviting content creators to submit material in December 2014. So far, it has signed Web shows like Tastemade, Jack Vale and Epic Meal Time. Other traditional media companies like Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and A&E have also signed agreements. And Warner Music Group was previously announced as a partner.