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Jason Kilar’s Vessel Will Not Offer Long-Form TV Content Like Netflix

Vessel, the digital subscription-video startup founded by Jason Kilar — the founding CEO of Hulu — officially launched Tuesday, looking to take a bite out of YouTube.

But, Kilar said, the video-content service won’t ever add TV shows or movies, a la Netflix or Hulu.

Vessel, which costs $2.99 per month (with a 12-month free offer), promises exclusive early access to a range of digital-video content. That includes short-form video from the NBA, Discovery Communications and Universal Sports. To earn money back from 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.

According to Kilar, Vessel is offering 165 channels and more than 72,000-plus curated videos at launch. For its launch, Vessel has signed several new content partners, including: vloggers GloZell Green (one of three video creators to interview President Obama following this year’s State of the Union address), Tré Melvin, and Mazzi Maz; gaming creators like SeaNanners, Syndicate, Mr Sark, and WroetoShaw; creators in the fashion and beauty world, like Meredith Foster (a.k.a. Stilababe), Meghan Rienks (a.k.a. MeghanRosette) and Estée Lalonde (a.k.a. Essiebutton); science-focused creators like Veritasium, LinusTechTips, and MinutePhysics; comedic creators like Callux, FailArmy, Reckless Tortuga and Michael Balalis (a.k.a. Mikey Bolts); and others.

“You shouldn’t expect us to get into the traditional TV or film formats –- I don’t think that’s an unsolved problem,” Kilar said, between Netflix, Apple, Dish’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. “Our focus is creating a service for the future on the devices that matter most.”

Those join other partners who previously announced that they will make their videos available through Vessel’s “early access” offering. Those include YouTube multichannel networks Machinima, Tastemade and DanceOn, and video creators like Rhett & Link, Shane Dawson, Marcus Butler, Caspar Lee and Ingrid Nilsen. Traditional media company partners include A+E Networks, which is making exclusive clips available on Vessel of shows including “Intervention,” “Shipping Wars” and “Bates Motel” (from A&E); “Married At First Sight: The First Year” (from FYI); “Pawn Stars”, “Ax Men” and “Vikings” (from History); and “Little Women: NY” and “Dance Moms” (from Lifetime). Other content includes IconicTV’s “Jay Z’s Life+Times” and Above Average Productions’ “Alec Baldwin’s Love Ride.”

In addition, NBCUniversal will make clips from latenight programs “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Vessel the day after they air. Discovery will make a variety of short-form content from its web-native portfolio, Discovery Digital Networks, available through Vessel. Some of Discovery’s video — including Phil DeFranco’s “The Vloggity” and episodes of TestTube’s “Scam School” and “Shots of Awe” — will debut first on Vessel, while other content, including segments from Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” and Science Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science,” will be available through Vessel’s free, ad-supported service.

Other YouTubers in the mix on Vessel include 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.

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 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 $77 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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