Jason Kilar's Vessel Boots Up Its Beta

Vessel, Jason Kilar’s OTT subscription VOD venture that will compete for talent, ad dollars and traffic with YouTube, launched a beta version of its service Wednesday while also announcing a sizable batch of initial content partners.

Vessel detailed its playbook in December, announcing an “early access” subscription product that provides temporary exclusives to short-form videos for $2.99 per month. The hope is that the economic model will give Vessel a leg up in the hot multichannel network (MCN) market by luring subscribers and creating an economic model that will attract top talent and content creators.

In a blog post, Kilar, the former Hulu CEO who co-founded and now heads up Vessel, announced the beta launch, inviting users on a first-come, first-served basis to try out the service for a month for free on iOS devices and Web browsers, noting that the company will soon launch a version that’s compatible with Android-powered devices, with other platforms already in the works.

“Our vision is to make Vessel accessible anywhere fans have an internet-connected screen, including gaming consoles, set-top boxes and smart TV,” Kilar said. 

Vessel, which uses “Watch your favorites here first” as its tagline, didn't say how long this beta phase willl last, though it's expected to launch commercially later this year.

Under its model, content creators agree to give Vessel (and its paid subscribers) exclusive three-day distribution windows. After that, their content becomes free on Vessel and gives the content owners the green light to distribute their videos via YouTube and other online platforms.

Since opening itself up to the content community, the company has signed up several partners that will debut videos on Vessel, including Anna Akana, Roman Atwood, Tanya Burr, Connor Franta, Nerdist Industries, Arden Rose, Jimmy Tatro, Brittani Louise Taylor, Unbox Therapy, Jack Vale, and Wassabi Productions, among others.

They join a group of MCNs that had already hopped on Vessel’s early access offering, including Machinima, Tastemade and DanceOn, as well as video creators such as Rhett & Link, Shane Dawson, Marcus Butler, Caspar Lee and Ingrid Nilsen; and more traditional media companies that include A+E Networks Warner Music Group, and series/channels such as  IconicTV’s Jay Z’s Life+Times and Above Average Productions’ Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride.