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New online platform wants to take on YouTube

(Reuters) - Wonder PL, a new video platform for lifestyle content that launched on March 13, is taking direct aim at YouTube and Vimeo while hoping to capitalize on the soaring popularity of online video.

Backed by Universal Music Group, Qualcomm Ventures, former Apple executive Pascal Cagni and a personal investment by Vice Media President Andrew Creighton, Wonder features topics from wellness to food to entertainment targeting women.

Wonder if differentiating itself from YouTube by targeting professional content makers to use its platform for an annual fee. YouTube is free to anyone who wants to upload a video.

"We want to be the Whole Foods of video," said Sofia Fenichell, Wonder founder and CEO. "YouTube is Wal-Mart."

Wonder is going after brands and content creators such as the National Film Board of China and chef Tom Aikens. Wonder charges an annual fee of $300 for its members to use the platform to upload video.

"We know everyone is going to produce more video," Fenichell said.

While more people are uploading and consuming video, it is a crowded market. Google's YouTube, which is ad-supported, has more than 1 billion unique users per month who watch more than 6 billion hours of video.

IAC/Interactive Corp's Vimeo provides a platform for professional users too. Anyone can post video to the Vimeo platform for free but it charges up to $199 for more comprehensive features like additional storage, support and the ability to sell video on demand. (Vimeo takes a 10 percent cut.) Vimeo has over 22 million registered members and reaches a global monthly audience of about 150 million.

Fenichell said Wonder will depend on subscription revenue for now but could eventually start providing opportunities for sponsored content. People view videos on Wonder in an ad-free environment.

"The industry currently trades a free or nominal membership fee in exchange for taking very high platform commissions," she said.

"We believe this is an unsustainable model for creators who need to generate value from their work."

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)

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