Can Video Start-Up Vessel Straight-Up Buy YouTube’s Stars?


The online video space is crawling with competitors who are dying to take a bite out of YouTube. Some of those competitors are longtime rivals like Vimeo and DailyMotion who have colonized small niches of their own and are more or less comfortable to live in the shadow of the video giant. Others like Yahoo have been nipping at YouTube’s heels without huge amount of success. Everyone has their own particular spin on what online video can or should be, but none of the claimants trying to snatch the crown have found a way to compete with YouTube’s huge and thriving community of home grown creators.

That’s the precious resource that new start up Vessel is taking aim at. Founded by former Hulu exec Jason Kilar Vessel launched in stealth mode early last summer but it wasn’t very stealthy about its interest in YouTube’s roster of stars. Now that its official launch is drawing closer the video start-up is beginning to make its intentions clear. Like Yahoo before it, Vessel is dangling the promise of bigger profits in front of top tier YouTubers to get them to bring their content to Vessel before they post it on the ‘tubes. AdAge reports that the startup is offering a revenue split of 70% to 30% in favor of the creators, that’s a sharp improvement over YouTube’s standard 55% to 45% split. In exchange creators must agree to a 72 hour window of exclusivity on their content before they can post it anywhere else. As Tubefilter first reported this window is backed by guarantees of $2-4 million for top tier creators willing to take a chance with Vessel. (Note: This figure was originally misattributed to AdAge)  It’s an arrangement that became possible back in 2013 when YouTube reluctantly freed its top creators from exclusivity agreements of its own.


What does this all mean for creators? Primarily it means more money on the table and more leverage when it comes to negotiating with YouTube. Multiple platforms, including Vessel, are offering YouTube creators lucrative new homes, a fact that YouTube is sure to keep in mind when it’s dreaming up new ways to keep creators happy. The expansion of creator spaces, multi-million dollar ad campaigns, and a new original content initiative are just a few of the ways YouTube has been busy bribing its creators to stay loyal. While it doesn’t seem likely that any startup, even one as well funded as Vessel, could knock YouTube off its throne, creators are in a great position to benefit from the threat of increased competition.


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