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Vessel Signs More YouTube Stars to Subscription Service, Launches Limited Beta Test

Vessel, the digital subscription-video startup founded by ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, has signed more than a dozen YouTube stars and other partners to its service as it opens up the service in an invitation-only beta test.

Vessel’s $2.99-per-month promises exclusive early access to a range of digital-video content. To participate in the service, YouTubers and other creators must grant Vessel a minimum 72-hour exclusive window on the content, after which they’re free to distribute it anywhere.

It’s still unclear how many users Vessel will attract — especially as fans of Internet video are accustomed to not paying to watch it — but the startup continues to attract interest from YouTube stars.

Since announcing the service last month, Vessel has signed several new content partners, including: Anna Akana, Roman Atwood, Tanya Burr, Epic Meal Time, Ray William Johnson’s “Equals Three,” Explosm Entertainment, Connor Franta, Nerdist Industries, Arden Rose, Jimmy Tatro, Brittani Louise Taylor, Unbox Therapy, Jack Vale and Wassabi Productions.

Those join other partners who announced last month that they will make their videos available through Vessel’s “early access” offering. Those include YouTube multichannel networks Machinima, Tastemade and DanceOn; video creators like Rhett & Link, Shane Dawson, Marcus Butler, Caspar Lee and Ingrid Nilsen; traditional media companies, like A+E Networks; musicians and music companies, including Warner Music Group; and series and channels like IconicTV’s “Jay Z’s Life+Times” and Above Average Productions’ “Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride.”

Kilar’s pitch to YouTube creators is that they stand to rake in significantly more coin via his SVOD service than on free, ad-supported video networks. According to his analysis, creators typically earn $2-$3 per thousand views in revenue on ad-based services — whereas Vessel claims its content partners stand to earn in the neighborhood of $50 for every thousand views.

In addition to subscription fees, Vessel is selling ads for content outside the exclusive window (which is at least 72 hours but can be as long as creators wish). Those will typically be five-second pre-roll video ads. Vessel also is selling swipe-able poster ads in the guide.

Vessel, designed for mobile viewing, is available on Apple iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) and on the web. The startup said it will soon also release Vessel for Android devices, with other connected devices on the road map including gaming consoles, set-top boxes and smart TVs.

San Francisco-based Vessel has raised about $75 million from Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and venture-capital firms Benchmark and Greylock Partners.

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