Will People Pay to Watch Web Videos Early?

vessel video

For many web users, swinging by YouTube and Vevo to watch the latest viral videos is part of their daily habit.

Will consumers pay? Viewing free videos is a mainstay of Internet culture – but the new company Vessel is hoping that consumers will want to pay for the privilege. The company is trying to work with celebrities, record companies and consumer brands and encourage them to “window” their new videos. “Windowing” would restrict access to new videos to a select group of users for a nominal fee. As a result, video producers will get higher royalty payments for the content – and users get earlier access to great content.

Vessel was started by two former Hulu executives, and there’s been a lot of buzz even though the service is not yet live. It will open to the public early this year, and will coordinate with video providers like Machinima and Tastemade (YouTube networks), the Warner Music Group and several YouTube personalities.

What does their monthly fee give them? For the price of $3 per month, subscribers will get access to new videos for a specific period of exclusivity – from 72 hours to a week. For example, if a YouTube publisher typically posts on Friday they could make their content available on Vessel on Wednesday.

“Early access is valuable,” said Jason Kilar, Vessel’s chief executive and former founding chief of Hulu. “Consumers very much want and are willing to pay a reasonable amount for early access to content; that allows you to build a great business.”

More on Vessel’s content. Once the early access expires, content can still be watched for free on Vessel’s site and its mobile app. The content will feature advertising from media buying partners, and the creators can also display the content on their own sites.

Vessel’s potential as a new video destination speaks to the overall increase in interest in video. Although the market used to be dominated by YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Vevo and others have stepped into the market. Vessel’s founders may have hit on a winning formula – early access for consumers, plus opportunities for advertisers – but only time will tell.


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