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Will Vessel’s Network Gamble Pay Off?

For a site launched as a place for paid early access to YouTube videos, Vessel has shown a surprising interest in going after exclusive TV clips. But even as more cable network content is set to join the site in the coming weeks, media executives remain uncertain about the site’s business model.

Vessel is currently in talks with at least two major media companies about bringing some exclusive short-form videos behind its paywall, with at least one expected to bring its content to the site shortly, according to two people close to the discussions.

Any such programming deals would be only for clips taken from TV shows, which are now available free online on their own sites and sometimes YouTube rather than pay TV channels. The clips would join other TV content on the site, including bits from talk show “Ellen,” and ones owned by media firms like A&E.

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For now, money isn’t a huge concern. Vessel has raised a total of $133 million in two separate rounds. The most recent, for $57.5 million, included some new investors including the investment arms of Comcast and Time Warner Inc. as well as investor Rizvi Traverse.

Jason Hirschhorn commented on this article.
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Some in the media industry question whether core YouTube programming mixed with some exclusive TV clips and music videos can build a large enough audience to build a sustainable business.