After launching an invite-only beta earlier this year, Vessel, the new subscription video site from former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, is now officially open to the public. As a bonus, if you sign up in the next three days you’ll get a year-long subscription to the site — which normally costs $3 a month — for free.
Offering a full year of free access up front seems like a good idea, as Vessel may be a hard sell for some. The new website’s big draw is that it will feature videos from top YouTube stars a full 72 hours before they’re available to watch on YouTube for free. Paying a subscription fee for non-exclusive content isn’t exactly commonplace, so the new service will likely need all the help it can get.
Why would YouTube creators want to go to the hassle of maintaining videos on another, less popular website? Revenue. To start, Vessel is offering creators $7 for every fan converted to a Vessel subscriber.
Then there is the payment structure itself. In addition to the standard ad revenue, Vessel also offers creators a cut of the subscription fees. The company keeps 40 percent of subscription fees, while the remaining 60 percent is divided between creators, based on how much time users spend with each piece of content. Kilar says that this, combined with the ad revenue, could earn creators far more per thousand views than they would earn on YouTube.
Vessel is taking a gamble, but considering Kilar’s background it would seem that he knows what he’s doing. Increasingly, fans seem happy — even eager — to make sure their favorite creators are compensated for their work. The artist crowdfunding site Patreon is thriving, as are many of the creators using the service, and that same approach may work for Vessel.
In keeping with the site’s theme of early access, the year-long free trial is only available for the next 72 hours, according to the Vessel blog, so if you want to see what the service is about, now is the time to give it a look.