What we can learn from the death of Vessel and Vine
- Ver Original
- Outubro 31º, 2016
LOS ANGELES — “What’s Vessel?”
That was the general reaction from digital stars on the “Multi Platform Strategies” panel at VidCon, a three-day conference dedicated to digital video, earlier this year.
Meghan McCarthy, DeStorm Power, Lexie Lombard and Amanda Steele — all successful stars on various platforms — were being asked which platforms they have experimented with and which ones they actually still like to use. Vessel wasn’t on their list, let alone on their radar. Meanwhile, they said Vine, known for six second videos, was still beloved but not used by them quite as much.
Some knew the fate of these two platforms was inevitable. Others were surprised, if not disappointed.
But one thing that became clear after the news broke: Being a successful video platform in 2016 is not as easy as it looks.
The good times
A lot can change in one year.
In 2015, Hulu founder Jason Kilar had planned a big launch for his new platform Vessel at VidCon, in hopes of luring the same young viewers who watch YouTube every day.
Crowds gathered around the Vessel booth on the VidCon Convention floor, picking up free swag, playing games and, most importantly, signing up for trial subscriptions.
— Saba Hamedy (@saba_h) July 23, 2015
Kilar co-founded the site with Richard Tom, who worked with him as the former CTO of Hulu.
The idea was simple: Feature videos from a variety of Internet personalities, media companies and musicians available only through subscriptions for $2.99 per month.
Kilar had hoped YouTube creators would come for the added incentives — he reportedly promised some YouTube stars guarantees of up to $4 million for a 72-hour exclusive window, and they received 70% of the ad revenue that runs against their content. If the creators came, so would their fans.
“Our non-consensus view of the world is that we think windowing will work stronger in a digital world than it works in the physical world,” Kilar told Mashable in January 2015 after the platform’s soft launch.
That same year at VidCon, Vine was also seemingly in its prime. On the convention floor, many teens stopped by in hopes of spotting their favorite Vine stars (or themselves) on the displayed loops.
Even last week, CBS’s 60 Minutes featured “the influencers” aka some of the platform’s biggest stars, many of whom live on the same floor in a building on Vine Street in Hollywood.
Many in the digital space considered that mainstream acknowledgement of Vine a milestone for the community as a whole.
— Saba Hamedy (@saba_h) July 23, 2015
So what went wrong?
Many familiar with Vine’s situation have said its lack of growth stemmed from an inability to keep top creators happy.
Creators didn’t necessarily ditch Vine, nor did they publicly hate on it so as to avoid biting that hand that fed them. However, they did go on the platform less and less. They instead turned to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook — places that are either growing or lucrative.
“To be honest, I haven’t used Vine too much recently,” Avery Monsen, star of Rooster Teeth’s Crunch Time, told Mashable in an email interview. “I went big in 2014 and 2015 and then burnt out. I’m a 32-year-old grown person, I got s—t to do.”
Monsen — who like many Viners used the platform for more comedic videos — has turned to other platforms that he said will help “fill the void.”
“Instagram has looping video, too,” Monsen added. “YouTube and Vimeo are options for longer stuff.”
Cody Ko, known for his #6secondauditions videos, said he thinks the death of Vine says a lot about the future of video.
“Digital video will continue growing, but it seems new platforms will have a tougher time competing,” he told Mashable. “As the consumption of digital video grows, the craving for longer content might have rendered Vine irrelevant before it introduced its extended video feature.”
As for Vessel, it seemed many creators who had initially signed up — including GloZell Green, MinutePhysics, FailArmy, Brittani Louise Taylor and Shane Dawson — were either no longer on the platform or barely promoting their content on it.
— Vessel (@Vessel) October 25, 2016
By 2016 — as evidenced by the VidCon panel — people had already forgotten what the platform even was. Instead, they had already turned to the next new thing (this year that happened to be Musical.ly, which became a popular platform for lip syncing videos).
And if it wasn’t clear then, it’s certainly clear now: Creators are what can make or break these platforms.
Vessel tried to woo creators, but it didn’t work. Vine failed to help its creators thrive, and therefore inherently lost most of its top stars.
Many companies — including Facebook — have been spending the last two years chasing after YouTube personalities. So far, however, YouTube has remained a strong homebase for creators, even if they expand to other platforms.
Though many creators still complain about YouTube for a variety of reasons, the platform is constantly announcing new initiatives to try and help its creators thrive. This is what analysts and others in the digital video space say other video platforms have struggled with.
In September, Re-code reported that telecommunications giant Verizon was in talks to acquire Vessel. At first, the news seemed like a saving grace.
People familiar with Vessel, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic, said the San Francisco-based company had been struggling. Mainly, the company — which raised $130 million from backers including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — had been unable to sign digital influencers, making it harder to attract the young viewers.
Verizon, which recently acquired AOL and launched a mobile-first video platform go90, seemed like an ideal parent company.
Plus, Re-Code reported that Vessel had been working on a new “Snapchat-like” product, an effort that could have paved the way for the platform’s re-invention.
But when the buy finally happened last week, Verizon said it’s acquiring Vessel’s product and technology, but shuttering the actual service.
“It has been incredibly fun to brainstorm ways technology can power a great video experience globally, to dream up ways to improve video advertising and to make those ambitions a reality,” Kilar wrote a blog post about the acquisition. “At the same time, Verizon, the largest wireless service provider in the US, has made clear their convictions about the future of online video. They share our belief that internet protocol will inevitably become the dominant way consumers access great video experiences.”
Meanwhile, Rus Yusupov, one of Vine’s creators, expressed regret over selling his platform to Twitter.
Twitter bought Vine in 2013 for $30 million, with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey confident in the platform’s abilities to be lucrative.
The buy came just months after Facebook had acquired Instagram, and before Instagram introduced its video features (which rival both Vine and Snapchat’s offerings).
“Vine arrived like the new kid on the block: all never-been-done-before, shiny, and new,” said Jason George, CEO of Telescope, Inc., which powers a handful of live streaming and audience engagement across Facebook Live and social media. “But… lack of innovation beyond the initial platform, and lack of a revenue stream for creators — allowed competitors to steal its clothes, and eventually, most of its community.”
In the end, it seemed, the parent companies just couldn’t help their kids grow.