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Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar Says Passionate Fans Will Pay for His Latest Video Service (Video)

Kilar's Vessel will give you early access to videos for $3 a month.

Asa Mathat

How badly do you want to see that new Beyonce video? Are you willing to pay a few bucks for a sneak peek?

Vessel Founder Jason Kilar thinks you might be, or if not you, one of your friends. The former Hulu CEO is betting that people care enough about video content — good video content — that they’ll pay for an advance screening, and he has built a company around that idea.

Kilar, who launched Vessel out of stealth mode in December, spoke about his new venture Wednesday with Re/code’s Peter Kafka onstage at the Code/Media conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif.

The idea behind Vessel is that for $3 a month, users can get early access to professionally produced content before it’s launched more broadly on the Web. “That’s the kind of person we’re going after, someone who cares deeply about a creator or a brand,” Kilar said. “We believe that they’re passionate about just good content, and it’s our job to deliver it to them early.”

Charging people for a sneak peek would, in theory, drive more revenue to content creators — and this is a big part of Kilar’s pitch. He says creators can earn as much as 20 times more money through Vessel than they could through ads showing their content on the open Web.

Specifically, Vessel passes along 70 percent of the ad revenue and 60 percent of the subscription revenue it generates back to content creators. Kilar also provided a “minimum guaranteed payment” to each creator, yet another incentive for them to pass along their content a few days early.

Kilar is already having some success in making this happen. Earlier on Wednesday, the company announced a partnership with Universal Music to broadcast some of the studio’s music videos ahead of more general distribution.

Vessel raised around $75 million from investors last summer, but may be on the hunt for more funding down the road, said Kilar. It depends on how quickly the company plans to grow, but “the growth of media businesses does tend to be capital intensive,” he added.

Here are some video highlights of the conversation:

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