After an invite-only beta period, online streaming Vessel is now available for the masses. Why should you care? Well, not only does Vessel provide early access to content from popular video creators, but the service is also free for a year if you sign up over the next few days.
Founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, Vessel is a $2.99 monthly video service that's designed to give YouTubers a more attractive platform to showcase their work on. Vessel features channels you may have heard of, such as EpicMealTime, Cyanide and Happiness and Machinima, as well as up-and-coming creators such as Caspar Lee and Meredith Foster. The service also offers prime-time content from partners that include NBC, UFC, Vevo and the NBA.
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While much of Vessel's content can be found on streaming sites such as YouTube, select creators, including Phil DeFranco and Tre Melvin, post their clips to Vessel first. In order to entice video makers, Vessel provides a cut of subscription revenue to those who offer an early access period.
There's also the presentation. While it's easy to get lost in YouTube's glut of videos, Vessel provides a slick, minimalist interface that takes some design inspiration from both Netflix and Hulu by putting a limited number of clips front and center. Vessel's main menu makes it easy to search for videos by category, as well as follow your favorite content creators.
Vessel is decidedly more niche than Netflix -- you won't be binging on The Walking Dead or watching a blockbuster movie on the service. However, for those who spend more time watching YouTube stars than network television, Vessel is an intuitive, attractive hub for up-and-coming web video.
Ad-supported Vessel videos can be watched for free. If you sign up now, however, you'll get a year of premium service (normally $2.99 per month), which includes early access videos and no ads, at no cost. You can watch Vessel on the web and via its iOS app; an Android version is on the way.