Courtney Accocella ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Do you find the time between your favorite Youtuber’s uploads unending? Are you dying for their content just a little quicker? Well, the new subscription video site Vessel may just be the thing for you.
Vessel has a model similar to the Rooster Teeth system, it’s a subscription site offering viewers early access to their favorite Youtuber’s content and more for only $2.99 a month. The early access period can be anywhere from a month to a dew days earlier than the content would normally be released, varying by the creators preference. During this time the content will only be made available on Vessel to subscribers. It will then stay on the site following the early access period to be made available to paid subscribers and its free users who cannot view early access content. It can also be upload to any other video sharing site there after.
Vessel’s model becomes a lot more interesting when you look at it from the side of a creator. Vessel is looking to win over the big Youtube channels, and thus their audiences, with the promise of higher payouts to the creators. Unlike Youtube which is estimated to offer around $3 or so dollars per thousand views based on ad revenue, Vessel is planning to offer 70% of all ad revenue. This is more than a little vague however, Vessel is estimating that during the early access period a “creator could earn approximately $50 for every thousand views”.
If that is not enticing enough to creators the site is also giving them a portion of the revenue for subscription viewer ship. 60% of subscription view funds will go to creators, so if a creator’s content is 5% overall of what was watched on the site they would receive 5% of the creators cut of view revenue, according to Vessel. With time, presumably, this revenue will lessen for creators as more content and channels make the jump to Vessel. Currently though creators like Rhett and Link or Casper Lee must be pulling in some serious revenue as their videos are shown on almost every page.
Content creators will also receive $7 every time a fan follows them after completing their free month and subscribing to the service. This is Vessel’s way to get Youtubers, who normally make no profit on subscription, to encourage their audiences to move over to Vessel and now pay for content.
After you sign up you go through a brief questionnaire where they ask what type of videos you normally like, what channels from Youtube you previously enjoyed, and what music you like. Vessel uses this to set up you initial subscriptions.
From here you are brought to your feed. Right of the bat it is unsurprising that one of the founders was originally a member of the Microsoft team. It’s laid out like Windows 10, which you might hate or love. Videos no longer are featured with thumbnails, but portrait sized images that completely distract from titles and sometimes who the video is from. It also makes it exceedingly difficult to see a diversity of video options at once. Users can comfortable see about 3 videos at a time on display. On a positive note, some of the videos ‘thumbnails’ are actually gifs which is a cool idea and is fun to see while scrolling through.
There is a side panel which you can use to find new content on the site. You start on what you are following, which can be anything from actual channels to more broad genres, something YouTube also recently started in aggregating content. From there you are able to search through the site by categories. Now categories have both an up and a down side. It’s nice that you can easily find what’s popular on the site overall and in each section (i.e. comedy, science, etc.). This can be tricky on YouTube if you are actually signed in on your account as you only get your what to watch page. While the discoverability is nice, many people would rather be able to just flip through the site more broadly like on Youtube. Vessel’s categories limit you down to geek videos all at once and force you through one genre at a time.
Another noticeable feature was that the lower details and related videos move on top of the video. This flaw was oddly irritating and it made looking at related content unappealing, since it obscured the video. Add to that the titles being written on images not necessarily sized or taken for the placement of said title making some of them extremely hard to read what they were.
While Vessel is definitely pushing the big name Youtubers they were able to score, it also seems to have more of a focus on the corporate channels. If you click the Channels & Shows section your immediately shown Buzzzfeed, FunnyorDie, National Geographic Channel, The New York Times, College Humor, and The Wall Street Journal. If you even try to look through all the channels, the menus are set to drop down to allow you to pick different filter categories or whether to show Most Popular or all channels A-Z. You cannot pick anything as the menus are set to disappear when the mouse moves from the header filter.
It’s quite remarkable that Vessel has these big name companies so early, because they do not seem to have that many actual homegrown creators. Sure a handful of Youtubers joined, like Marcus Butler, Tanya Burr, Epic Meal Time, Connor Franta, and Smosh, but the diversity of content and creators is just not there like it is with Youtube. And while Vessel is not looking to have just anyone on the site, it wants fan bases not creators really, it just does not seem to have enough of a pull with the small number of Youtubers for it to attract the number of users that the founders are anticipating.
This limited number was also surprising as one founder was saying that they were “inundated with creators wanting to get on the service” back when it was initially launched just for creators to begin uploading in advance of the consumer beta release. Those crazy numbers don’t seem to really follow through on the site, though.
Using the beta leaves more questions than answers frankly. Like will music videos also be included in the early access? Will content creators have to worry about re-uploads from Vessel to Youtube and other sites, killing their profits on sites outside of Vessel? Will there ever be creators who make exclusive content for Vessel as well as the early access?
For a beta site it was fairly functional so you’ve go to give them that. There is some definite need for improvement in the site’s overall functionality and user experience. The appeal is there though, and with some tweaking it could definitely become very popular. But will it ever out compete Youtube? That prospect highly unlikely.
Vessel may spark YouTube to more competitively pay the creators on ad revenue. Though it was already reported early this year that Youtube is paying content creators more than ever and is barely turning a profit, which makes one wonder how Vessel can even fathom a profit at all, despite subscription prices. The services are so vastly different too. Vessel lacks the homegrown friendly environment of Youtube. It’s not about growing content creators, it’s about getting money from existing creators fans. There is no investment into the creators like Youtube does with the Youtube Space and Creator Academy programs, among others. It does not feel like there is any room to be an up and coming channel, only space for popular content. It’s more corporate on every level. Youtube would be smart build this model into the site itself, though it might be met with more resilience from fans than Vessel already received. The idea can make money, but perhaps it should not be its own site. Vessel is not self-sustaining, it’s more or less leaching. Without a doubt, this will be profitable for creators, though maybe not for a long run. Now is defiantly the time to get in on the site though, while the revenue cuts are still high and the ad space that Vessel offers content is large and frequently present.