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Vessel voyage to end after Verizon acquisition

Jason Kilar’s online video service Vessel will close on October 31 after US telecoms giant Verizon swooped to buy the technology and software that underpins it.

Jason kilarVerizon will hire “most” of Vessel’s staff, including “some of the original founding team at Hulu” after buying the business for an undisclosed amount.

Kilar (pictured) co-founded Vessel and broadcaster-backed VOD service Hulu with Richard Tom, who joined him a Vessel at chief technology officer.

There was no official confirmation of Kilar’s future from Verizon, but a Vessel blog post revealed he would remain through the end of the year to “ensure a smooth transition”.

Kilar and Tom claimed that Verizon shares Vessel’s “belief that internet protocol will inevitably become the dominant way consumers access great video experiences”, and noted all of its subscribers would be given complimentary free access for October.

“Though the team and the actual tech and product will live on at Verizon in ways that will become apparent in the months and years ahead, sadly we will be sunsetting the Vessel service at the end of this month (October 31),” they added.

For Verizon, the acquisition, which had been expected for some time, comes after the launch of its go90 mobile video platform, and as it staffs up for the launch of a youth-skewing service that it’s creating with YouTube channels operator AwesomenessTV.

Chip Carter, general manager of Verizon Entertainment, said: “When we examined and evaluated all that the Vessel team has executed to date and their technical strengths in areas of content discovery, recommendation, OTT subscription management and user experience management we were able to identify a number of ways this was a smart pairing.”

The deal is the latest example of telco giants developing content ownership and distribution strategies. This week has been largely dominated by the fall-out of the news Verizon rival AT&T was acquiring entertainment conglom Time Warner for US$85.4 billion.