Verizon Might Start Steering Struggling 'Vessel'

If you have one of those fake-mileage VW diesels and don’t think you’re getting a fair compensation deal from the automaker, I have a suggestion: call Verizon.

In the digital content business, at least, Verizon is the go-to company for damaged (or at least, badly branded) goods. According to Recode, Verizon is about to acquire Vessel, the $2.99 a month subscription video service that began with great promise only a year and a half ago, and never caught on.

Two problems, probably: Vessel hoped to get YouTube vloggers to also use the Vessel platform, which offered a better cut of the revenues. That didn’t happen. That’s, in part, because YouTube started its own pay version, YouTube Red, that did much the same thing, from a creator standpoint.



From a user standpoint, Vessel looks great. The idea seems better now that Vessel has begun offering a much-reduced $20 a year plan. But there is nothing unique about it. Vessel was the dream project of former Hulu CEO Jason Klar. Variety reports it has raised $134 million from a Who’s Who of investors, including Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions, IVP, Greylock Partners and Benchmark.

VideoInk’s Jocelyn Johnson reported last month that Vessel’s “audience conversion is slower than anticipated. Creator commitment to advanced windowing has been unreliable. Brands aren’t on board for advertising against such limited scale, especially at a high dollar CPM Vessel has tried to command.

"The company has been in the works on a branded content studio, as well. By those tokens, the rumor mill has it that Vessel is looking to spin out the current platform and sell it while the team focuses on another covert product development."

Verizon to the rescue? The mobile phone giant already snapped up a badly managed Yahoo, and paid to buy legacy brand AOL, being bright enough to recognize value despite its old-school name. It bought Intel’s failed OnCue program service in 2014. Why? 

By itself, it launched Go90 mobile video service, which seems to keep adding content. but from all indications, not many users. The reports above cites a new Vessel product, called Hubcap, that is a kind of a next gen Snapchat. That might be the specific object of Verizon’s interest.  Verizon isn’t commenting on the Recode report, but reportedly negotiations are far along.

THINGS I THOUGHT OF WRITING... while I was on vacation:

Stumbling through trails at the amazing Glacier National Park in Montana last week, I felt so sorry for Kodak. No doubt like a lot of the 2.8 million visitors to Glacier this year, my wife and I probably took 600 smartphone photos. Back in the days of the 36-print film rolls, Kodak and others must have made a fortune, every single day, but people took far fewer photos. 

Here’s what I thought was the “bigger” revelation.

Many of those digital photos are only slight variations on the ones that came before and after--a better angle, one horizontal, one vertical, that sort of thing. Had we been using film, we would have never taken all those shots. But we wouldn’t care for most of the film photos we took, just as we’ll appreciate, and quickly disregard, most of the close-cousin duplicate digital photos I now have in my phone.

To me, film represents television content. Back when, we had a limited number of channels, of which we watched only a handful, with a measure of best-we-can-do satisfaction.  In a digital video content world, we have millions of options, and we run through them all. A lot of them are, in camera terms, worth a one time look and that’s it.  Some are great.  

Because they're produced cheaply, we have a lot of good, a lot of bad. Film costs money. Digital photos and video don't. So, by that measure, those Benjamins are the best curators.

To extend a camera pun, it's not a fully developed thought.

Anyway, hello again!

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